A tough and rugged shrub, oleander makes a sturdy ornamental addition to landscapes in warmer areas (it won't tolerate a hard freeze). It’s versatile and makes a good border, hedge, or screen, as well as a good pick for a potted plant. However, all parts of the shrub are poisonous because of its different types of toxic compounds. So beware and plant accordingly.
Oleander flowers emerge at the tips of stems for a flush of pink or white. Typically, plants have a single row of petals, but some varieties set a double row of petals for a better show. The flowers stand out against the long, narrow bright green leaves that have a light midrib, making them reminiscent of olive trees.
Related: Poisonous Plants in the Home
Oleander Care Must-Knows
Once established, oleander requires little maintenance. It is drought tolerant and does well in poor soil. If the roots stay wet for too long, it can be prone to rot.
Oleander grows fast and can develop a lanky habit if not properly maintained. One of the best ways to create the densest habit possible is to plant it in full sun, which also encourages the most blossoms. Oleander tolerates part shade, but in those conditions, it requires staking to prevent flopping and will need more frequent pruning. In cool climates where the oleander is not hardy, overwinter potted plants indoors.
Unlike some plants that have one toxic compound, the oleander has several, which can cause issues with the digestive tract and cardiovascular and nervous systems. Most of these compounds are only harmful when eaten, so no part of the oleander should be ingested by humans or animals. Also be careful when pruning an oleander because the milky sap can cause skin irritation.
More Varieties of Oleander
'Pink Beauty' oleander
This Nerium cultivar bears large, clear-pink flowers that have little to no fragrance. It grows 20 feet tall and 12 feet wide, and tolerates light frosts better than most oleander varieties. Zones 9-11
'Mrs. Lucille Hutchings' oleander
Nerium 'Mrs. Lucille Hutchings' is a large variety with showy, peachy-pink double flowers. It grows 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Zones 9-11
'Hardy Pink' oleander
This variety of Nerium forms an open, upright plant that grows 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide with clusters of rose-pink flowers all summer. Zones 9-11
Nerium 'Album' offers white flowers throughout the summer on a big plant to 18 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Zones 10-11