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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - June 11, 2008

From: Italy, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Care of non-native Oleander
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I want my oleanders to bloom but they keep getting attacked by tiny orange aphids that clump up on the newest growth. I read that oleanders only bloom on old growth but those orange mites/aphids are relentless. How can I get rid of them delicately? How can I get my oleanders to bloom more?

ANSWER:

Once again, you are asking about a plant that is not in our Native Plant Database. This website from Clemson University Extension Home and Garden Information on Nerium Oleander has information on culture, problems, pests and diseases, so be sure and read all the site. Most oleanders will survive temperatures down to 15 to 20 deg F, although their foliage will be damaged. It is native to a broad area from Morocco and Portugal eastward through the Mediterranean region and southern Asia to Yunnan in southern parts of China

WARNING: Oleander is extremely poisonous. Eating even small amounts of any part of the plant can kill. Children have been poisoned by using the twigs as whistles. Contact with skin may cause irritation. Smoke from burning cuttings can cause severe reactions.

In reference to your question about aphids, this site from the University of California Integrated Pest Management on aphids should give you plenty of information. If you must use controls, please use those with the lowest impact on other wildlife, like bees and butterflies, in your garden.

Once again, we would like to interest you in native alternatives to this non-native plant. The following plants should do well in Ellis County. While they may not be as showy as oleanders in bloom, they will be hardier and less likely to be afflicted by pests and diseases, while needing less care.

Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (Wright's desert honeysuckle)

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon)

Salvia greggii (autumn sage)

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle)


Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii

Ilex vomitoria

Salvia greggii

Morella cerifera


 

 

 

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