How to Landscape With Dwarf Oleanders


Across U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8b and warmer, gardeners may plant dwarf oleanders (Nerium oleander) shrubs in the outdoor landscape. Dwarf cultivars such as Petite Pink, Petite Salmon and Shari D naturally mature 3 to 6 feet tall and wide and do not require pruning to keep them in scale with a residential garden. These small oleander selections may be used as informal hedges or screens, accent plants in a foundation bed or rock garden or in a large container on a sunny patio.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Organic mulch
  • Choose a site on your property that's appropriate to grow a dwarf oleander shrub. A fertile, well-drained soil that experiences at least eight hours of uninterrupted sunshine daily is needed. Wet, slow-to-drain soils and shady locations are poor locations to plant any oleander.

  • Purchase dwarf oleander plants from the plant nursery, selecting cultivars with a mature size or flower color that suits your landscape design. Container-grown plants may be installed in a landscape any time of year the soil isn't frozen.

  • Place the dwarf oleander shrubs in the desired location in the garden, according to your planting design. Space plants appropriately, so that when they reach their mature size -- as listed on plant labels -- they are not crowded or too large for the location. While in the container, the shrubs may be shifted as needed to create a pleasing design composition before digging holes and planting them.

  • Dig the planting hole with a garden shovel once the final location is decided for the dwarf oleander. Dig the hold two to three times wider than the diameter of the shrub's container root ball. The hole's depth should be the same as that of the container.

  • Scatter a 3-inch layer of organic mulch atop the soil around the dwarf oleanders. The mulch makes the planting bed look finished and attractive. Mulch also benefits the shrubs by preventing weeds, cooling the soil for the roots, conserving soil moisture and decomposing to provide trace nutrients to the dwarf oleanders.

Tips & Warnings

  • Oleanders grow faster and more densely if they are planted in a moist, well-drained soil and are watered during the hot summer months. Conserve water and maintenance by using dwarf oleanders in the sunny, hottest, driest areas of the landscape design.
  • Plant additional dwarf oleanders in a spacious cluster or row. Because oleanders do not look good when tightly sheared, an informal, billowy-textured hedge makes a more attractive feature.
  • Plant clusters of dwarf oleanders in odd numbers to create a more natural look, such as in groups of three, five or seven.
  • All parts of dwarf oleander shrubs contain toxins. Do not plant these shrubs where children or pets will pick, chew on or eat the leaves, flowers or twigs. Discard pruning debris in the landfill, not the compost pile.
  • Oleander shrubs are flammable and will create a toxic smoke when burning. Do not burn oleander pruning debris. Avoid using oleander shrubs in regions where wildfires are common, as the wind-blown smoke from oleanders can harm wildlife, domestic animals and people if accidentally inhaled.

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