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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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Friday - November 11, 2005

From: Kingman, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Propagation of non-native, poisonous oleanders
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

How do I propagate oleanders? Can the cuttings be rooted in water? Or is it better to use rooting hormone and stick the cuttings in the soil?

ANSWER:

 

Our area of study and expertise at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is limited to native North American plant species. Oleander, Nerium oleander is a native of the eastern Mediterranean, northern Africa and southeastern Asia. The beautiful, but extremely poisonous evergreen shrub has been planted widely in the tropical and sub-tropical parts of the United States for many years.

 

If you wish to propagate your oleander, you should take care not to ingest or otherwise expose yourself to the sap of the plant. All parts very poisonous; even exposure to smoke from burning oleander is harmful. A single leaf ingested by a small child can be fatal and there are many cases of oleander poisoning when branches were used to spear food for grilling.

 

Nerium oleander is best propagated by stem cuttings, but layering and seed propagation are also useful. Oleander stem cuttings can be easily rooted in water. Here is a well written article on Stem Cutting Propagation, published by North Carolina State University. Finally, an excellent resource on oleander culture is the website of the International Oleander Society.

 

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