The Q&A Archives: New Oleander Dropping Leaves

Question: About a month ago I planted an oleander bush from a 15-gallon pot. It was planted in full sun in a mixture of half-and-half composted manure/wood shavings and dirt. We have watered it about once a week. It was doing well, even flowering profusely, but suddenly began to drop many of its leaves, particularly those on the bottom half of the plant. The remaining leaves and blossoms seem to be fine. What's wrong?

Answer: Oleander is an amazingly tough shrub, which is why we see it planted so often along freeways and other tough landscaping situations. I suspect that your oleander is just going through transplant shock. Larger sized container plants (such as the 15 gallon) tend to suffer from shock more than the small 1 gallons. Dropping bottom leaves is a way for the plant to cope, allowing the fresh new growth on top to survive. You were correct in planting it in full sun. Overwatering can sometimes cause a plant to drop leaves. Once established, oleander is extremely drought tolerant, so you might want to slack off on your watering to see if that makes a difference. Let the soil just barely dry out and then water very slowly and deeply to ensure that water moves down past the root zone. I think your plant will recover, but if it doesn't, please write again with any other details and we can help you solve it. Good luck!

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