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How to prune an oleander tree

Updated February 21, 2017

Oleander (Nerium) is an evergreen flowering plant that can grow as tall as 4 metres. If the lower branches are continually removed as they grow rather than allowing them to spread into a round shrub, the oleander will grow into a tree. This plant can handle heat and drought magnificently. It also can tolerate winds and sea spray. Planted in well-draining soil in a pot in your conservatory, greenhouse or living room and given plenty of sun, the oleander will produce abundant flowers. To optimise flower production, pruning is in order.

Watch for the blooms to die back. Pruning the oleander at the end of the growing season will give the plant time to develop new flowers for the next year. According to the International Oleander Society, September or early October is the best time to prune.

Cut branches above leaf nodes with garden shears. The leaf node is the spot on the branch from which three leaves are growing. Make the cut about 0.75 cm above the node.

Watch for the development of new branches. During the next growing season, three new branches will grow at the node where three leaves had formerly grown. At the tips of those new branches, new flowers will develop.

Tip

Winter weather can damage or kill some branches of the oleander tree. Prune dead branches in the spring before the start of the growing season.

Warning

Oleander is poisonous. Ingesting even a small amount can result in death. Skin contact can lead to irritation. Wear gloves when handling the plant, and wash your hands and gloves thoroughly afterwards. Keep the plant and the gloves worn to prune it away from children and pets.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden shears
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About the Author

D. Laverne O'Neal, an Ivy League graduate, published her first article in 1997. A former theater, dance and music critic for such publications as the "Oakland Tribune" and Gannett Newspapers, she started her Web-writing career during the dot-com heyday. O'Neal also translates and edits French and Spanish. Her strongest interests are the performing arts, design, food, health, personal finance and personal growth.