Gardening

Oleander

Oleander



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The oleander


The oleander is a shrub typical of the Mediterranean vegetation, it is widespread throughout Italy in cultivation, in southern areas it is also present in the natural state; a plant well known to garden and non-garden enthusiasts, the oleander is a vigorous evergreen shrub, which produces beautiful fragrant flowers throughout the warm season, gathered in racemes at the apex of the flexible branches. The flowers are typically pink in color, but there are numerous hybrid varieties, with red or white flowers, sometimes variegated, sometimes double or double.
The oleanders they are widespread plants in areas with a Mediterranean climate thanks to the few cultivation requirements, they are often used in urban furniture, as they survive even in non-ideal cultivation conditions, such as extreme heat or drought. Typically in Italy the oleanders they are planted even along the highways, since they are suitable for living without watering even for months, continuing however the summer flowering.
The flowers in autumn are followed by fruits, long woody capsules, which contain the small fertile seeds, with feathery layers.
The oleander's foliage is oval, elongated, dark green; the leaf page is rough and waxy, not glossy and slightly leathery.

Oleander plants suffer too low temperatures and need a mild climate with hot, dry summers and not too cold winters. Below 5 degrees the oleander starts to suffer so it could be a good thing to cover these plants if we live in an area where in winter days with less than 5 degrees are numerous and frequent.To place the oleander in the garden we choose a well exposed and illuminated area, an airy area of ​​the garden. Shaded corners with little light are to be avoided because in these conditions the oleander suffers a little and grows badly, with branches that become poorly trimmed, stunted leaves and scarce blooms.The oleander is not a delicate plant if it is cultivated in hot and dry areas, and can easily be left to itself as evidenced by its frequent use in urban greenery and road greenery to decorate roundabouts, avenues and other corners of green traffic. .What are the situations in which the oleander lives better?



As we know oleander is a plant native to the Mediterranean basin: it is therefore clear that it loves the well exposed and warm positions.
This does not mean that it cannot be inserted even in an area with partial shade. This will generally result in more scarce flowering and slower growth.

In which lands and conditions does the oleander live better?



This bush is equally tolerant of the substrate. It lives pretty well both in poor and sandy soils and in rich and clayey ones. It can even live where there is a fair amount of sodium chloride, usually in coastal areas (where in fact it is very common both in cultivation and in the spontaneous state).
They can be used with satisfaction even in areas characterized by strong winds: many in fact use them to create beautiful windbreaks or medium-height hedges. We would also like to point out that this situation could negatively affect flowering; the buds, in fact, are quite sensitive and can easily be detached from strong gusts.
It should also be noted that if the salt at the level of the roots is well tolerated it can instead become harmful when it settles on the leaves that could stain or turn brown with time.

How to prepare the planting of the oleander


If we purchased the plant by correspondence, from regions with very different climate from ours, it will be good to wait some time before proceeding with the insertion in the definitive location.
If we live in an area that is much warmer or colder, the ideal is to gradually expose the specimen to the new conditions so that it does not suffer traumas, usually with damage to the leaf apparatus or a very slow growth recovery.
As soon as we receive the plants, let us keep them in a sheltered environment that is neither too hot nor too cold, preferably in a shaded area. Let us irrigate abundantly and, if we are dealing with more specimens, let us keep them close to each other so as to reduce transpiration and increase environmental humidity.

Planting



After deciding what the final location will be, we will have to dig a hole for each specimen that is at least double or triple the size of the container. In this way the root system will not be disturbed in any way. Let's also make sure that the hole is deep enough to allow the collar to be at the level where it was in the container.
If we have purchased a specimen with a bare root or in a sack of lute we try to handle it with the utmost delicacy to avoid breaking or damaging the underground apparatus.
For potted plants it is advisable to open the bottom of the ground bread and eliminate at least 1/3 so that growth in the new substrate is encouraged.
If the specimen is sapling it will be good to plant a guardian in depth, useful for at least the first three years.

What filling material?



We can use the material that has been extracted, possibly added with 1/3 of organic soil improver (especially in the case of very sandy substrates to increase its capacity to retain humidity).
Once the processing is over, it is very important to irrigate abundantly. The ideal is to create around the trunk a ditch capable of retaining water.
Pruning in this case is not strictly necessary, as long as it receives a good and constant amount of water in the first period. To avoid that excessive foliar drying occurs due to the transplant it can be useful to vaporize the hair often.
If the plant shows serious signs of suffering, you can think of intervening by removing from 1/3 to ј of the foliage and possibly the new jets in order to avoid excessive transpiration and waste of energy.
The best time to proceed is just after the flower buds appear and in any case not after September. If we proceed too close to the winter it will probably be penalized the following year's flowering because the plant will not have the time necessary to recover from the transplant.

Crop care


Water needs the franked specimens are considered very tolerant of drought, as long as they are in the ground.
Generally in Northern Italy they do not need water interventions, especially during spring and autumn. In summer, however, to support its beautiful flowering, it can be useful to distribute an abundant ration at least every 15 days.
Of course we must always keep in mind the climatic conditions (the more we move to the South and the more we need to intervene) and the quality of the terrain. With sandy substrates it is good to monitor specimens with greater attention.
Lack of water usually leads to stunted growth and reduced flowering. Furthermore, if it is severe (as often happens with potted and neglected plants) it can cause a strong desiccation of both the stems and the leaves.

Oleander fertilization


The use of fertilizers is not strictly necessary. However, it must be pointed out that distributing an adequate amount, especially phosphorus and potassium, helps growth and abundant flowering.
The right time for administration is the beginning of spring. A second intervention should be done instead between August and September.
We then keep the leaves under observation. A soil that is too poor leads them to be light green, maybe small. The stems will have too short internodes.

Oleander pruning



Oleanders are very easy to prune. To intervene with a certain regularity will guarantee us robust, healthy specimens with many buds.
It must always be cut above a leaf node. In this way the plant will be stimulated to produce new leaves and twigs. In the early years it will be important to intervene more and more times to encourage thickening by obtaining secondary branches and finally a well-bushed, low and round bush. The more secondary branches there will be, the more flowering the plant will be.
When? The best time to prune is from September to October. Cutting in the spring you risk eliminating the buds that will go to flower.
How much? The oleanders are very strong plants and also bear very severe pruning. If we want we can also greatly reduce the size of the plant, especially if we think we have lost control over its shape.
Such as? Intervening wisely, and maintaining its intent over the years, various forms can be obtained: bush, bunch, umbrella (tying the stems to the base), fountain, tree or tree (selecting a single stem at the base) .

Oleander propagation


The propagation of oleanders is of the simplest. You can freely choose between mature or apical wood cutting. In both cases, a section of about 20 cm must be removed by cutting at an internode and eliminating the leaves at the base.
It will then have to be placed in a plastic bottle filled with water that should be left in the sun. When the roots have developed, the seedling will be transferred to a very light and draining substratum, to be kept moist (but not soaked) in an area well exposed to light.
The results are obtained within two weeks. Later on you will have to proceed with numerous toppings to encourage a well-balanced growth.

Oleander in pot



The cultivation of oleander in pots is quite simple and can give great satisfaction.
The ideal soil is that for flowering plants, possibly added with some sand and flour manure (and a good draining layer on the bottom).
However, let us remember that these plants suffer particularly from the lack of water. The only way to see them always beautiful is to irrigate regularly, at least once a day during the summer, also using saucers. Clearly we always try to give a container of adequate size or, even better, very abundant.
The key to having beautiful and flowering plants is to always place them in full sun and give plenty of water and fertilizer.

How to choose our plant?


The choice of the specific variety of oleander is very important. Unfortunately, on the market most of the time there are labels in which only the shape of the flower (simple or double) and the color are indicated. As for roses and other plants it would be preferable to know the name of the cultivar. In fact we would have the possibility to choose specimens first of all more resistant to diseases. Moreover we could select the habit and the final dimensions that the plant will reach so that it adapts perfectly to our purposes and our spaces, without forcing us to intervene continuously.
If this possibility of choice is prevented, we will analyze well the specimens available to us. The best are always characterized by beautiful dark green leaves and a bushy and dense habit.
Absolutely to be avoided are individuals with broken branches, necrotic or yellow leaves. We also carefully examine the presence of insects such as aphids or scale insects.
If possible, let's make sure that by removing the plant from its container the ground bread remains intact. It is equally important, however, that the root system is not excessively developed, with the consequence of "turning" creating a very compact and felted cluster, now unable to extract the nutrients from the substrate.

Poisonous oleander


The oleander is a poisonous plant and in particular its leaves are toxic to humans and animals. However, this plant often creates an excessive fear almost to the point of demonizing the oleander and its presence in the garden when there are small children or dogs.
The level of toxicity of the leaves is very high but to be sick a person or animal should eat the leaves. A simple contact with the oleander does not usually create particular problems.
Dogs and cats generally stay away from this plant. On the other hand, it is more dangerous for herbivores that are attracted to plants. It is therefore a plant with which some attention has to be paid but which can be grown quietly in the garden.

The legend of Napoleon's soldiers


Still remaining on the subject of oleander and poisonousness, there is a curious legend that however makes us understand how much this topic has been debated for years and how oleander is a plant to be treated with gloves.
The legend in question wants that Napoleon's soldiers, during a break in one of their many movements, roasted meat using oleander wood as fuel. The soldiers all died and the cause of their death was the toxicity of the plant.
The oleander in fact is not toxic only in the flowers, in the stem and in the leaves but even the smoke that is released when the oleander burns is toxic.
So pay close attention to the wood you use for your summer barbecues and avoid burning oleander sticks to cook your steaks!
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