Botanical Name: Nerium oleander
Synonym/s: Nerium indicum
Common Name/s: Oleander, Kaner
Viable from seed but usually grown from half-hardened cuttings. The seeds are thin and flaky, as well as toxic and should be disposed of as soon as seedpods appear in garden situations. Nerium oleander is recorded to have a lifespan from 5 to 20 years.
Nerium oleander is a woody perennial, shrub that can be trained into a small tree in the early stages of growth. The trunk is smooth, grey in colour while the branches are semi-rubbery and pliable.
Five-petal flowers of the straight species bloom in shades of white, yellow, pink and red. The partially fused stamens of the androecium forming an ornate “star” that crowns the flower. The innumerable cultivars (e.g. Petite Salmon, Album, Hardy Yellow, Hardy Pink) provide flowers that range from flaring to funnel shaped, single and double and come in a large variety of shades and colours.
Nerium oleander is a large, dense shrub with dark green, linear-elliptic to lanceolate leaves with a prominent, lighter coloured midrib which secrete a milky, toxic sap.
Advice and Horticultural Uses:
In most horticultural situations Nerium oleander is planted for it aesthetic value and light fragrance, reminiscent of daffodils. It is commonly used in domestic gardens around Brisbane. Nerium oleander is commonly used as a landscape feature in parks and along roadsides, It is often used as a screen or median strip along highways due to it's ability to tolerate poor and saline soils and drought. Dense hedges and small trees can be formed by removing suckers and tight clipping in the early stages of growth.
For best results Nerium oleander is best planted in full sun but will tolerate semi-shade, it is often recommend that the plant be watered and fertilized regularly during the growing period, however Nerium oleander does extremely well and flowers beautifully in low nutrient, drought situations and requires minimal to no care unless a specific outcome is desired.
While mostly pest free, Nerium oleander can be attacked by caterpillars and reportedly scale.
Advice and Cultural Uses:
The main noted use of Nerium oleander outside of ornamental is for uses as poison.Used as a poison in numerous stories, books, films and legends, such as the Legend of Chloe, it which a slave kills her mistress and her daughters by backing a birthday cake containing Nerium oleander extract.Some also believe that despite it's toxicity Nerium oleander has medical benefits, although this is yet to show any merit Nerium oleander based products are promoted on the Internet as alternative medicine.
Nerium oleander is one of the most toxic plants on Earth. Every part of the plant is toxic. Attractive, bright flowers may lure in a small child for a taste, which is likely to be their last. It is unwise to plant Nerium oleander in areas where children are likely to congregate, such as near day care centers, schools or domestic gardens with young children.
Maintenance of Nerium oleander also poses a certain risk, the toxic milky sap it secretes can easily cause skin irritation and poisoning if proper care is not observed, the sap also forms a hard substance on tools if they are not cleaned immediately after use.
Native to areas spanning from the Mediterranean region though to southern China, Nerium oleander thrives in areas that experience dry, hot summers. While able to tolerate a wide range of soils, well drained, sandy soils are the best medium, up to the point where the plant will become invasive in coastal situations. Nerium oleander prefers full sun.
It is recommended that the plant be propagated from half-hard cuttings, in well drained pots in full sun. When planting in the ground individuals should be spaced 1.5m-2.5m apart, unless a dense hedge is desired. Regular watering and fertilizing during the growth season is recommended, but far from necessary. During periods when the plant is not actively growing it should be watered sparsely and allowed to dry out, yellow leaves are an indication of over watering.