oleander leaf scorch - Knowledgebase Question

simi valley, Ca
Question by phyllispepe
May 15, 2010
I must replace many for privacy one at a time as disease spreads. a chain link fence runs behind them.what can I replace them with,bush or climber
that is not effected by bacterium xylella fastidiosa.

Answer from NGA
May 15, 2010


The bacteria that causes oleander leaf scorch does not survive in the soil where the plant was growing. For this reason other shrubs and trees can be planted in the same spot.

Here are some suggested substitutes:
Dodonaea viscosa ?Purpurea? (Purple Hop Bush): Willowy, deep purple-bronze foliage all year; insignificant soft-pink papery flowers in late spring. Fast-growing, low water, unfussy about soil. Full sun. Grows to 20 feet tall; can be pruned shorter.

Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon): Native known as California's holly. Shiny deep green leaves; red berries in winter. Grows to 15 feet tall and wide. Full sun to part shade. Moderate grower.

Podocarpus macrophyllus maki (Shrubby Yew Pine): Tall, narrow dense shrub ideal for hedge between subdivision houses. Long dark green leaves; inconspicuous flowers. Grows to 8 feet tall. Likes sun but tolerant of shade between homes. Drought-tolerant. Shear to keep narrow.

Thuja occidentalis ?Fastigiata? (American Arborvitae) ? Tall, thin conifer thrives in coastal conditions. Evergreen yellow-green leaves resemble those of cedars. Grows to 25 feet tall; can be sheared. Low water; full sun.

Rhaphiolepis ?Majestic Beauty? (Indian Hawthorn) and Rhaphiolepis umbellata (Yeddo Hawthorn): Familiar shrubs for carefree screens. ?Majestic Beauty? grows to 10 feet tall and has leathery dark green leaves and deep pink flowers in spring. R. umbellata reaches 8 feet tall and bears white flowers with red stamens off and on all year. Both are vigorous, drought-tolerant and pest-free. Full sun to part shade.

Dendromecon harfordii (Island Bush Poppy): Best native substitute for oleander-size informal screen. Waxy gray-green foliage; many months of buttery yellow flowers. Grows up to 25 feet tall and wide; generally smaller in cultivation. Drought-tolerant; avoid excess water and summer water. Take care not to damage roots when planting.

Rhus integrifolia (Lemonade Berry) and Rhus ovata (Sugar Bush): Leathery dark green; pink flowers in February through April are followed by red berries. Use Lemonade Berry in coastal areas; Sugar Bush in hotter inland regions. Both grow 8 to 10 feet tall and take shearing well. Prune after berries form so next year's buds are not harmed.

Rhamnus californica (Coffeeberry): Neat, tidy, sturdy and dense in mass plantings. Dark green foliage; small flowers in spring are followed by marble-sized berries in shades of lime green, rose and red that ripen to black. Site where berry drop is not a problem, though birds may eat most. Grows to 15 feet tall in deep shade; takes well to pruning. Full sun or shade. Do not over water.

Aloe arborescens: Easily grown from cuttings to form a dense shrub with spiny-edged fleshy leaves that form wavy rosettes. Blooms in January with orange-red flower spikes. Grows slowly to 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. Keep soil moist until established; then will survive on winter rains. Good fire barrier. Needs good drainage. Tolerates some shade. Frost sensitive. Plant cuttings so they touch.

Portulacaria afra (Elephant's Food): Wiry adobe-brown stems hold tiny jade plant-like leaves. Fast growing to form informal hedge to 5 feet tall. Be sure to use upright, not prostrate form. Good companion with other succulents for a mixed screen. Sun or shade.

Euphorbia tirucalli (Pencil Tree): Tall, thin tree with pencil-thin branches, easily grown from cuttings. No thorns, but milky sap is irritating to eyes and skin. Grows 6 to 8 feet tall, 3 feet wide. Choice selection is ?Sticks on Fire? with branches in bonfire hues of red, pink and salmon. Tolerant of salt air. Frost sensitive.

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