How to grow and care for banana trees
Name: oleander, Nerium oleander species and varieties
Height: typically 3m+ with age, however dwarf forms that grow to about 1.2m are also available
Climate: cold temperate, warm temperate, arid/semi-arid, sub-tropical and tropical.
Soil: not fussy about soils, and will even tolerate salt-affected ones.
Position: full sun, but will tolerate light shade.
Flowering: oleander flowers are trumpet shaped, perfumed, and white, pink or red in summer.
Feeding: usually not required.
Watering: water young oleander plants to get established. Older plants need very little water.
Oleander is an evergreen shrub with long, lance-shaped evergreen leaves. Plants tend to be vase-shaped, with many upright stems growing from the base.
Oleander flowers appear at the tips and occur throughout the summer months. They are sweetly scented and can be smelt from some distance. Colours range from white to pink and salmon to dark red. Occasionally varieties with a yellowish flower are available.
The oleander plant is well-known for being poisonous to people and pets, although the bitter taste of all parts means it’s pretty hard to ingest large amounts. However, bear this in mind before planting. The sap can also cause an irritation on the skin, so wear protective clothing when working around it.
Oleander plants are grown in hot and dry areas due to their ability to withstand harsh conditions. They can be used to form an evergreen screen—oleander hedges are quite common. Smaller forms can be grown in pots and containers.
This tough plant really doesn’t need much care once you have got it established. Mulching can help retain moisture through the dry periods.
Your oleander will not require specific pruning. Any dead or broken branches can be removed with secateurs or loppers. However, if you are interested in trimming your plant back, the best time to prune an oleander is directly after it’s bloomed.
In warmer areas, oleander plants are occasionally attacked by the caterpillar of crow butterflies, also known as the oleander butterfly. They rarely do enough damage to be of concern and can be left alone to develop into the lovely black-and-white butterfly.
Growing oleander from cuttings
Oleander can be grown from cuttings taken in summer:
Grevillea: tough shrubs with showy, bird-attracting flowers.
Bottlebrush: dry-tolerant, low-maintenance shrub perfect for screening and attracting birds.
Crepe myrtle: small, deciduous tree with summer flowers and autumn colour.
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