AZ Arboretums

Nerium oleander

Desert zinnia

Family: Apocynaceae
Origin: Mediterranean across Asia to Japan
Sunset Zone: 8-18, 18-24
Light: Best in heat and strong light
Soil: Not particular about soil, tolerating poor drainage or high salt content
Water: Little or no water once established
Temperature: In shade or ocean fog, produce weak or leggy growth and few flowers

Use as screens, windbreaks, borders for roads or driveways, tubs, background plantings. Use freely wherever deer are a problem - they don't touch it. One of the basic shrubs for desert and hot interior valleys. Ordinarily broad and bulky but easily trained into handsome single or many trunked tree resembling an olive tree. Moderate to fast growth; most varieties reach a maximum height of 3-20 ft. and 3-12 ft. wide. Narrow 4 to 12 in.-long leaves are dark green, leathery, and glossy, attractive all seasons. Form with golden variegations in leaves is sometimes available. Flowers 2 to 3-in. across, clustered at twig or branch ends, May or June to October. Blossoms are red, pink, salmon, yellow and white. Seed pods may follow.

Caution children against eating leaves or flowers, keep prunings and dead leaves away from hay or other animal feed. Don't use wood for barbecue fires or skewers. Smoke can cause severe irritation. All parts are poisonous. Chief insect pests are yellow oleander aphid and scale insects. One disease is bacterial gall, which causes blackened deformed flowers and warty growth and splitting on branches. Prune in early spring to control size and form. Cut out old wood that has flowered. Cut some branches nearly to ground.