En EspaŅol

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
29 ratings

Saturday - January 30, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Poisonous Plants
Title: Cutting back non-native oleanders affected by freeze in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

After the last hard freeze makes my oleanders look dead. Can I cut them down to the ground this time of year?

ANSWER:

If we may take this opportunity, we would like to remind you that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the use, care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plant is being grown. Nerium oleander is native to Africa, Asia and and the Mediterranean. We realize it is widely used, but would like to point out one other characteristic of oleander that may be more important than whether it can be cut back after a frost. Nerium oleander is one of the most poisonous plants known, with all parts of the plant being toxic. Ingestion of just one leaf can cause heart attack and death. Some of the poisons it contains are cardiotonic glycoside (oldendrine), prussic acid and rutin. Skin contact with the plant can cause severe dermatitis. Burning it will release toxins that can cause intoxication. We would recommend that it be carefully removed, wearing gloves and protective clothing, bagged and disposed of properly, NOT burned nor consigned to the compost pile, where the toxins would continue to be dangerous. With all due respect, we hope they ARE dead, and that you will carefully remove everything, including the roots, to prevent their re-emergence. 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Non-native Chinese pistache in Eagle Pass, TX
June 14, 2009 - Hi Mr Smarty Plants!! I just bought a young chinese pistache tree, is no bigger than 7 feet. I've never had one of these trees before, I'm about to plant it and I would also like to fertilize it...
view the full question and answer

Pruning a non-native Hinoki cypress from Denver NC
July 08, 2011 - Hi! Our painters have asked that we trim the Golden Hinoki Cypress back from the house. The tree is about 20' tall, beautiful and healthy. Since it is July and therefore, HOT! I'm wondering how t...
view the full question and answer

Application of sprays to non-native Crape Myrtle from Prosper TX
June 29, 2012 - Can applying a systemic insecticide/fungicide combo prevent or limit Crape Myrtle blooms? I have 5 large lavender Crapes that are not blooming or budding yet and this is the first time I have used a ...
view the full question and answer

Sweet cherry tree for New Mexico
January 23, 2013 - What is the best kind of sweet cherry tree to plant in Santa Fe, NM? I have apple, apricot, peach and pear. Would like cherry unless it is a bad idea.
view the full question and answer

Viability of non-native Royal Poinciana in Austin
August 20, 2008 - My question is about the tree called Royal Poinciana that grows so well in the Rio Grande Valley. I realise it isn't a native but hope you have an opinion about its chances of survival in Austin. ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center