nerium oleander, commonly known as Oleander, pink laurel or Rosebay, it is a poisonous perennial shrub or small tree, of the Apocynaceae family. It is native to North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean. Today it thrives in much of Florida, for ornamental purposes in parks and highway edges.
While it is true that all parts of the plant are toxic if ingested, oleander is prized for its beauty and gorgeous flowers.
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Characteristics of oleanders
Oleander has long flowers and dark green leaves Throughout much of the year, especially in the warm months, the bright star-shaped blooms come in shades of white, pink, red, coral, or yellow, depending on the variety.
There are varieties with single flowers and double flowers. Solitary flowers generally fall cleanly, while spent double flowers may remain unattractive on the plant. However, it is the double-flowered oleanders that tend to have a certain fragrance.
It is an annual multi-stemmed plant that grows vertically up to 6 meters high and 3 meters wide. The leaves appear in pairs or spirals of three, thick and leathery, 5 to 21 centimeters long and 1 to 3.5 centimeters wide.
Growing and caring for oleanders
The first thing you should know if you want to grow an oleander plant in the garden, is that should be avoided in home landscapes where children and pets play.
All parts of the bushes are poisonous and the smoke from burning oleanders is toxic. Ingesting even a small amount of oleander foliage or flowers can be fatal.
Contact with foliage and flowers, can cause severe skin irritations and allergic reactions. Always wear long sleeves and gloves when working with the bush.
Oleander cuttings take root very easily. To do this, cut a few 15-inch fresh shoot tips during spring or early summer, and place them in a pot filled with soil.
This shrub tends to be long-leaved, with a typical clearance of 0,6 m from the ground, and should be planted with lower-growing perennials.
Oleanders they bloom from spring to late summer. Apart from the cold of winter, almost nothing bothers oleander.
Almost any well-drained soil will do; acid or alkaline. Once established, it is very drought tolerant. It also withstands wind and salt spray, making it an ideal plant for planting on beaches.
After flowering, cut the plants and let them rest for a few weeks. If cuttings are desired, take them from mature wood. Pruning to shape the plant can be done at any time. Clean and discard any dirt after the pruning is done.
Oleanders can be infested with mealybugs, glassy-winged shearer, soft scales, oleander aphids, and white scales. Apply sprays that contain neem oil insecticide for plants.
The Caterpillar Oleander It is commonly found on this shrub and likes to eat its leaves. These caterpillars possess immunity against the poison of the tree. Left unchecked, they can cause unsightly defoliation. This may not kill the plant, but it does make it vulnerable to other pests, such as scale insects.
Oleander leaf burn is a lethal disease that kills oleander bushes. Experts point to two culprits for oleander burn, the bacteria Xylella fastidiosa and the pest that spreads them, the glassy-winged shearer.
If the leaves are stained pale green or if the leaf veins are easily seen as they are too dark, the cause may be an iron deficiency. The most common cause is not a lack of fertilizer, but an incorrect pH value in the soil.