Oleander care - Knowledgebase Question

Name: Dolores Spencer
Spring Branch, Te
Question by codolores
October 1, 2009
Last summer (2008), I planted over 30 oleanders. On a radio garden show, they recommended cutting them back to the ground in Feb/Mar, which I did. Five of them have subsequently died, three look poorly, and none of them have recovered their previous heighth. What do you recommend for caring for oleanders?

Answer from NGA
October 1, 2009


I'm afraid that was bad advice. As you've discovered, cutting shrubs down to the ground can be lethal. You can control the size of oleanders with some selective pruning. After they have finished flowering you can shear them back and/or shorten the branches (at random lengths) with the expectation they will develop two or more stems just below the pruning cut. To keep them from getting leggy you can prune one or two of the main stems down to 12 inches or so from the ground - again expecting them to produce two or more stems just below the pruning cut. Each year you can select different main stems to shorten and after each bloom period you can shear the foliage back by about 6", or cut the branches back to random lengths. It's possible that in time your oleanders will recover from their drastic haircuts. You can encourage healthy new growth by pruning them - ever so slightly - until they fill out again. Best wishes with your oleanders!

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