The Q&A Archives: Oleander Care

Question: We live in Toronto, and keep a newly purchased Oleander<br>plant in our inside swimming pool area; during the winter<br>it drops to about 38 celsius. Will it survive that temperature, and do you have any tips about looking after it?

Answer: Oleanders are able to withstand a light frost, though they prefer warmer temperatures. Yours should be alright down to the temperature you describe. However, I would be concerned about temperature fluctuations in your pool area. Is it the type of space that will heat up on a sunny day, then cool down at night? Your oleander will do best in a place where the temperature stays consistently between 35 and 50F (37-45 Celsium) throughout the winter. Temperature fluctuations may interrupt the plant's resting phase.<br><br>Generally, oleanders do best in full sun in a moist, well-drained soil that has been mixed with an equal amount of peat moss or leaf mold. For fast growth, dust a small amount of cottonseed meal or 5-10-5 fertilizer beneath the plants in spring. Water infrequently in late summer and fall so the season's growth will mature before cool weather arrives. Cut off the tips of stems after the flowers have faded to encourage branching. In the spring overgrown or cold-damaged bushes can be cutback severely-- to the ground if necessary--for new shoots grow rapidly. Single-trunked tree-type oleanders are created by removing side branches. Such specimens can be kept 3 to 5 feet tall with regular pruning if grown in patio tubs; in gardens the trunks of large specimens can be pruned to branch at 7 or 8 feet.

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