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
2 ratings

Wednesday - September 28, 2011

From: Darien, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Pruning, Poisonous Plants
Title: Pruning non-native oleanders
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have an oleander that has become to "leggy". I read the pruning instructions, but where I want to prune, there are not any leaf nodes. Can I trim below at the base, or will I hurt the plant? I live in Chicago and have had the plant for many years and have not pruned. I bring the plant indoors from Oct - May.

ANSWER:

If you will go to our Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page and enter "oleander" in the Search by Keywords slot, you will see that there are more than 20 questions that appear that are associated with Nerium oleander (oleander).  You will also see, if you read ones (e.g., #268, #522, #6495) that are about oleander alone, that it is a native of northern Africa, the eastern Mediterranean and southeast Asia. It was introduced into the U. S. in the 1800s and now can be found in cultivation and naturalized over the southeastern states, Texas, California, and Utah.  Our focus and expertise here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is with plants native to North America so we are not really who you should be asking about care of your non-native oleander.  However, we can guide you to some information that should help you.

The International Oleander Society has an article, Oleander Culture, with a section on pruning them.  Buzzle.com has an article, Oleander: Pruning Oleander; here is another, Nerium Oleander Care & Pruning, from Botanical-Journeys-Plant-Guide.com.;  and another, The Oleander Plant for Spectacular Blooms, from Plants and Bulbs@Suite 101.  Pruning above the nodes will make the the plant branch there, but the articles all indicate that oleaders can be heavily pruned and continue to do well.

When you do prune your plant we would like to remind you of the toxic nature of oleander and suggest that you wear rubber gloves and dispose of the prunings carefully.   The following is a quote from a previous question:

"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...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."

 

More Pruning Questions

Lilies not blooming from Austin
May 03, 2013 - Last December 8, you published a letter in the Statesman that I had written to you regarding Rain Lilies, Oxblood Lilies, and Copper Lilies. The were sprouting in my garage in a bag. You recommended...
view the full question and answer

Fragrant foundation plants for sunny, dry area in Illinois
August 26, 2009 - We need suggestions of what to plant on the south side of our house heave sun and rather dry soil. We just took out old dead bushes. Would prefer something that flowers and smells nice that would gr...
view the full question and answer

Leaf loss on Cenizo in Bertram TX
November 17, 2009 - I need help with a purple sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) problem. Most of one of my plants started having paler, more greyish leaves, then the leaves began to fall off. It seemed to still look healthy...
view the full question and answer

Rocky Mountain Juniper Grazed by Deer
April 29, 2013 - I have four Colorado red cedar (Juniperus scopulorum). The deer have eaten from their height down. Now these narrow top to bottom evergreens have only tops left. Will the bottom fill in if I protect t...
view the full question and answer

Trimming of Flame acanthus from Bastrop TX
February 17, 2012 - My flame acanthus never lost leaves off the bottom tier of branches this winter. With the brief warm weather and rain we've had, the top and middle tier of branches have all re-leafed. It is very l...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center