Nerium oleander Oleander

The oleander is mentioned in the works of ancient Roman writers and appears in wall paintings in Pompeii. It is native to the Mediterranean, where it grows beside water courses, often forming large displays. It has decorative, evergreen leaves that are linear-lanceolate and 10-15 cm (4-6 in) long. It bears masses of terminal clusters of pink flowers, although in cultivated varieties these may be white, yellow or red, about 3 cm (1 inch) across. Semi-double and double, fragrant and unscented varieties are available. The first flowers appear in June and the last in the autumn.

In order to flower profusely, the plants must be kept in a cool – 4°-10°C (39°-50°F) – and well-ventilated place in winter. Water only when the compost is beginning to dry out.

The plants can be transferred in their containers to the garden, a patio or a balcony in the spring. Take them indoors again before the first frosts. Water abundantly and feed once a week. Oleanders stand up well to pruning, particularly young plants. They are readily propagated by stem tip cuttings that root in water at normal room temperature. The best time for taking cuttings is from June till September. This must be done with care, for oleander is extremely poisonous.

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