Austin Pretty Limits® oleander. (Nerium oleander)
Photo by: Proven Winners

A widely used landscape plant in warmer climates, oleander is grown for its carefree habit and attractive star-shaped flowers that bloom nearly year-round. Because of its beauty and tough nature, this evergreen shrub is commonly seen along highway medians and in public landscapes in places like California, Florida, and Texas.

Native to the Mediterranean region, oleander bush is also well-suited to residential landscapes, but caution must be taken due to its toxicity. Here’s how to safely add and care for oleander in your yard.

On this page: Basics | Planting | Care and Maintenance | Pictures | Design Ideas

On this page:


Botanical name:

Nerium oleander




Upright bushy habit


4 to 20 feet tall, 3 to 15 feet wide

Light exposure:

Full sun

Growing conditions:

Oleander is adaptable to many challenging conditions including drought, heat, salty air and urban pollution. Plants can tolerate an occasional light frost.


Oleander prefers average soil with good drainage and a neutral pH between 6.5-7.5. Plants are tolerant of poor soils.

Bloom period:

Year-round, with peak bloom in warmer months


Prolific clusters of funnel-shaped five-petaled flowers occur in hues of pink, white, red, coral, purple, or yellow. Some varieties are fragrant.


Slender olive-like green or variegated leaves 2 1/2 to 8 inches long grow on sturdy stems. The elegant foliage adds fine texture to the landscape.

Is oleander invasive?

Because of its extensive root system, oleander can be difficult to eradicate and can be invasive in some southern regions.

Is oleander deer-resistant?

The toxic properties of oleander protect it against certain enemies including deer.

Is oleander poisonous?

All parts of the oleander plant are highly toxic to humans and pets. See more on this below.


Photo by: Botond Horvath / Shutterstock

When to plant:

Spring or fall, when the weather is cooler

Where to plant:

Place in a site that receives full sun. Plants can tolerate some shade, but may become lanky and produce fewer flowers with less light. Avoid planting around curious children or pets.

How to plant:

Wear protective clothing and gloves to avoid direct contact with the plant. Loosen soil in planting area and amend with compost or other organic matter. Make sure soil is well-draining. Dig a hole 2 to 3 times wider and slightly deeper than the root ball. Remove plant from container and tease out roots if potbound. Place the plant in the hole so the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding soil. Fill in the hole with soil, tamp down gently to remove air pockets, and water thoroughly.


Space plants 4 to 12 feet apart, depending on the variety.

Planting oleander in containers:

Use a high quality all-purpose potting soil. Make sure containers have adequate drainage holes. Containers should be 10 to 14 inches wide for smaller varieties and 14 to 24 inches wide for larger cultivars.


Austin Pretty Limits® oleander. Photo by: Proven Winners

Pruning oleander:

  • Plants bloom on new wood.
  • Deadhead spent oleander flowers to encourage new blooms.
  • Wait until fall after peak bloom to prune.
  • Remove dead and diseased branches and shape as needed.

To rejuvenate older or overgrown plants, cut 1/3 of the largest stems back to the ground. Cut remaining stems back by 1/4 of their height. In the following year, remove more of the large woody stems if necessary and trim back as needed.

Use protective gloves to prevent contact with the sap and wash hands well after pruning.


When planted in optimal conditions, oleander needs little or no supplemental fertilizer. If soil is poor and plants exhibit slow growth, pale leaves, or few flowers, apply an all-purpose granular fertilizer in early spring and again in early fall. Mulch with a layer of compost in spring. For container plants, apply an all-purpose granular fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks.


Water regularly and allow soil to dry out between waterings. Too much water can cause yellowing of the leaves or root rot. Containers will need more frequent watering.

Pests and diseases:

When given the right growing conditions, oleander will be more resistant to pests and diseases. Pests include aphids, mealybugs, red spider mite, scale, oleander caterpillar, false oleander scale, and glassy-winged sharpshooter. Diseases can include Sphaeropsis gall, oleander leaf scorch (a bacterial disease), leaf spot, sooty mold, and wood decay fungi.


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Photo by: Proven Winners

Austin Pretty Limits® Buy now from Proven Winners
Nerium oleander


8 to 11


Upright spreading habit

Height and spread:

4 to 6 feet tall, 4 feet wide

Selected in Austin, Texas for its dense rounded habit, this cultivar is especially heat and disease resistant. Bright magenta-pink flowers brighten the landscape. This dwarf oleander is suitable for smaller spaces and containers.

Photo by: svf74 /

'Petite Pink'
N. oleander


9 to 11


Compact bushy habit

Height and spread:

3 to 6 feet tall and wide

This dwarf variety is ideal for small spaces and containers. The upright open habit is suitable for hedging or foundation plantings. Clusters of soft pastel pink flowers 1-1/2 to 3 inches wide lend elegant appeal. ‘Petite Pink’ is less hardy than other varieties.

Photo by: Jim Harding / Flickr

'Sister Agnes'
N. oleander


9 to 11


Upright bushy habit

Height and spread:

10 to 18 feet tall, 10 to 15 feet wide

Elegant clean white flowers with a pale yellow center are suitable for formal landscapes or moonlight gardens. Abundant clusters of single or double whorled flowers are sometimes fragrant.

Photo by: Cheng Wei / Shutterstock

'Hardy Pink'
N. oleander


8 to 11


Upright open habit

Height and spread:

8 to 15 feet tall, 6 to 10 feet wide

‘Hardy Pink’ is one of the most cold-tolerant varieties, enduring temperatures into the teens without foliage damage. Plants may develop hardiness down to Zone 7b. Bright rose-pink star-shaped flowers are lightly fragrant.

Photo by: Amornie / Shutterstock

'Hardy Red'
N. oleander


8 to 11


Upright bushy habit

Height and spread:

6 to 15 feet tall, 6 to 10 feet wide

Five-petaled funnel-shaped red flowers 2 to 3 inches across add sizzling color to the landscape all summer long. This variety withstands cold and temperature extremes better than most other oleanders, surviving down to Zone 7b in some instances.

Photo by: cultivar413 / Flickr

Twist of Pink™
N. oleander


8 to 10


Upright bushy habit

Height and spread:

6 to 8 feet tall and wide

Unique variegated foliage is green edged with creamy white, providing a showy backdrop to the 1-inch pink flowers. This cultivar is hardier than many varieties, down to 10 to 20 degrees F.

Photo by: Ellita / Shutterstock

'Mathilde Ferrier'
N. oleander


8 to 10


Upright bushy habit

Height and spread:

8 to 15 feet tall, 4 to 15 feet wide

One of the most commonly available yellow varieties, this classic favorite has lovely pale yellow double flowers 2 to 3 inches across that are fragrant. This hardier form may develop cold tolerance down to Zone 7b.

Oleander alternatives:

Good substitutes for oleander include bottlebrush (Callistemon citrinus), flannel bush (Fremontodendron californicum), and lemonade berry (Rhus integrifolia).


How to choose the right oleander:

  • For borders and landscapes: Use medium and large varieties as hedging or screening, or naturalize in the landscape. Dwarf forms can be used as groundcovers, foundation plantings, in curbside strips or massed in the landscape.
  • For slopes and hillsides: Mass along a bank or slope for a carefree display that will also help to stem erosion.
  • For containers: Smaller specimens are suitable for containers. In climates colder than Zone 8, oleander can be grown in containers and overwintered indoors.

There are many ways to incorporate oleander into your landscape. Here’s how:

  • Use a medium-sized variety to hide an eyesore such as an air conditioning unit, propane tank, or trash can storage area.
  • Plant a smaller specimen in a container and place on a sunny deck, patio, or apartment balcony.
  • Mass a small- to medium-sized variety along a slope for erosion control.
  • Use a larger form as quick-growing screening to hide an unsightly view.
  • Plant a curbside strip with smaller varieties that won’t obstruct views.
  • Train a medium or larger variety into a small tree as a focal point in an island bed.
  • Soften a home foundation or fence with a stand of a small to medium sized variety.
  • Combine with other shrubs with similar needs that bloom at different times for continuous year-round color.

Photo by: Ellita / Shutterstock


Oleander contains multiple poisonous compounds and all parts of the plant are highly toxic to humans and pets. Ingesting even a small amount of the plant can result in serious injury or death.

The clear sticky sap can cause skin irritation or a rash on contact. Don’t burn discarded oleander branches, as it can release toxins into the air.

Keep dogs on a leash while out walking in areas where oleander is commonly planted and make sure they are not chewing on any plants. Symptoms can appear in as little as 30 minutes and be quite dramatic.

Contact your local Poison Control Center, physician or veterinarian immediately if you suspect your child or pet has come into contact with plants.

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