Nerium oleander (Oleander)

  • TropPlant Accession Number (TPAN): 0026
  • Botanical Name: Nerium oleander
  • Common Name: Oleander, 'Oleana
  • Cultivar: Over 400 described
  • Family: Apocynaceae
  • Native From: Portugal and Morocco east toward western China
Nerium oleander leaves, flowers, and fruits
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Landscaping Information

  • Plant Type: Tree, Shrub
  • Texture: Dense
  • Form: Mound to Upright-Narrow to Upright-broad
  • Height (on average, in landscape use):  4'- 20' (Depends on cultivar, of which over 400 have been described)
  • Height to Spread Ratio: 1:1
  • Growth Rate: Medium-Fast
  • Landscape Values: Accent, Background, Border, Color, Edging, Facer, Filler, Foundation, Hedge, Mass, Patio, Quick Effect, Screen, Space Division, Specimen, Windbreak, Erosion Control
  • Outstanding Quality: Flower Color, Vigor

Botanical Descriptions

  • Flowers: Sepals narrowly triangular-ovate, petals variously colored from white, pink, salmon, red, purple to cream. Petals form a tube/funnel shape 0.5"-0.9" long. Some cultivars are very fragrant, like perfume.
Nerium oleander flowers
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Nerium oleander flowers
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Fruits: A pair of narrow follicles, 3"-7" long, green to brown when ripe. Hairy seeds.
Nerium oleander fruits. The fruit type is a follicle. 
Photo by Matthew Gaston
Nerium oleander fruits.
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Foliage Color: Young/immature: Light Green. Mature: Bright medium green to dark green.
  • Foliage Tip: Acute to Apiculate
  • Foliage Base:  Acute
  • Petiole: 0.25"-0.5" long
  • Stipules: N/A
  • Margins: Smooth
  • Leaf Arrangement: Whorled
  • Leaf Shape: elliptic
  • Leaf Type: Simple
  • Leaf Texture: Stiff, leathery, dull, glaucous, adaxial surface darker than abaxial.
  • Leaf Special Notes: distinct whorls of three leaves. All parts of this plant are toxic, including the leaves.

Nerium oleander leaves
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Nerium oleander adaxial leaf surface
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Nerium oleander abaxial leaf surface
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Bark and Trunk: slightly wrinkled gray to light brown bark, not particularly noteworthy

Horticultural Information

  • Light Preference: Semi-Sun, Full Sun.
  • Light Tolerances: Shade
  • Soil Preferences: Not Particular
  • Tolerances: Acidic,  Alkaline, Smog, Compacted Soil, Salt Air, Saline Soil, Strong Winds, Moderate Winds, Humidity, Regular Watering, Drought.
  • Water Requirements: Tolerates almost all conditions, prefers medium soil moisture.
  • Notes on Maintenance: A very easy plant to maintain. Susceptible to Oleander Scale, treat with summer oil. Caterpillars of the oleander hawkmoth can be treated with carbaryl or a biological control agent.
  • Propagation: Seeds, Cutting, Layering.
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 9a-11a
  • Weed Risk Assessment Score (WRA): 6, Low Risk

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