How To Cut Oleander Properly - Home Gardener Cutting Tutorial

How To Cut Oleander Properly - Home Gardener Cutting Tutorial

Oleander benefits from these types of pruning

Oleander does not hold against its gardener any pruning measures. On the contrary, the Mediterranean ornamental wood reacts positively to professional pruning. The key to success is the right combination of cut type and timing. The following table lists the most promising types of cuts with appointments:

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Cut typetargetAppointment option I.Appointment option II
Plant pruningdense branching at the base of the bushfirst stage after plantingsecond stage a year later in March / April
Body sectionbuild a stable frameworkbefore placing in the third and fourth yearin March / April of the third and fourth year
Form and maintenance cutUniform growth, profuse flowering, dense foliagein the fall before clearingin March or just before clearing out
Care cutExtend flowering time, keep shapeif necessary during the growing seasonno
Taper cutRevitalize overaged, bald oleandersin spring when budding beginsno
Parenting cut HochstämmchenStructure of a young plant into a high trunkafter plantingbefore putting away

Plant pruning in stages stimulates dense branching

Don't be tempted to buy cheap, bushy oleander plants from discount stores. These come from a loveless mass production. Ten or more cuttings are packed together in a small pot to simulate dense, bushy growth. The end of the song are confusing, mostly herbaceous plants, where pruning measures are difficult or impossible.

The most valuable oleanders are pulled from a cutting and have first, short side shoots. A courageous plant cut aims at the formation of a number of new shoots at the plant base, which form a stable shoot structure. As the figures below illustrate, the perfect plant pruning takes place in two stages:

  • After planting, cut off the central shoot above the third leaf rosette from below
  • Allow unhindered growth for the following 12 months
  • One year later, in March / April, shorten the branches in the upper half of the plant above the third leaf rosette
  • Cut off the shoots in the lower half of the plant above the fourth leaf rosette

The plant pruning was a complete success when an oleander developed a well woody and richly branched base at the beginning of the third year of standing. Parallel to the growth in height and width, the shrub will not burn off from below because new shoots keep sprouting from the rootstock.

Oleander cut plantsOleander cut second year


Plant pruning ties in with the law of top funding

The precise prediction of the reaction to the pruning is based on one of the three growth laws that every home gardener should be familiar with. The law of peak promotion is based on the fact that on every plant the bud with the highest position sprouts the most. Because the vegetation point is closest to the light, the sap pressure at this point is disproportionately stronger than at all other nodes. If the top bud is removed as part of the planting pruning, the growth forces are distributed to lower-lying buds. The result is a permanent strengthening of the growth on the plant base.

Oleander benefits from a stable framework - tips for the structural cut

A professional pruning also results in the growth of fresh ground shoots from the root ball. By using this process wisely for further development, you will direct the young oleander into the perfect shrub shape. Therefore, as a supplement to the central shoot, choose the seven to ten most promising ground shoots as a framework. Shorten all other shoots from the root ball at ground level.

Instructions for the shape and maintenance cut

For an oleander north of the Alps, the wintering period begins in mid to late November. In connection with the clearing, a cut back is on the maintenance program if there is a lack of space in the winter quarter. The better time to cut is in spring, just before the start of new growth. Unless you have to complain about space problems for wintering, you should not subject your oleander to the shape and maintenance pruning until later. With this cut, you'll get it right:

  • Clean up dead flowers
  • Cut out dead, cross-growing, or inward-growing branches
  • Cut back branches that are too long to just above the next bud or a healthy rosette of leaves
  • Arched overhanging shoots lead to a young side branch
  • Remove branches that are close to the ground and hanging over the edge of the tub
  • From the sixth year cut off 2 to 3 of the oldest ground shoots at the base

When making the cut, please note that an oleander blooms in early summer on the buds that it created the previous year. Its blooming splendor in midsummer comes from the buds on this year's shoots. A moderate approach to the pruning should spare the overwintered buds. A ground shoot remains vital and blooming for 5 to 8 years. The continuous rejuvenation by thinning out the oldest ground shoots therefore begins in the sixth year at the earliest.

Oleander pruning


Use ground shoots for propagation

Do not cut off all the shoots close to the ground during the annual clearing cut. It is a natural sinker with the help of which oleander reproduces in its home regions. You use a ground shoot for the offspring by placing a pot filled with potting soil next to the oleander tub. Place the shoot on the substrate and slightly scratch the bark at the contact point. Weigh down the sinker with a stone to improve contact with the ground. The mother plant continues to provide nutrients to the shoot while it develops its own root system. The two plants are separated when the offspring has largely rooted its nursery pot.

Summer care cut promotes a long flowering time

Cut off withered flowers continuously over the course of summer. Shorten completely withered shoots by a third. Use the scissors at a short distance from a bud or a leaf whisk. With a care cut you contribute significantly to a never-ending flowering period. Regular trimming and moderate pruning prevents the oleander from the exhausting process of seed and fruit formation. Instead, the plant focuses on producing new buds and flowers by autumn.

Rejuvenation with secateurs - this is how it works

Old, rarely cut oleanders are often bare. The trees only have leaves at the ends of the branches so that they are reminiscent of a skeleton. It doesn't have to come to that if you take countermeasures in good time by means of a makeover. The most radical of all types of cuts aims at revitalization and paves the way for a new construction. Since oleanders have the ability to sprout fresh from old wood, there is a good chance of success. This is how the taper cut succeeds:

  • The best time is in spring, as soon as budding begins
  • At the beginning, remove all dead branches
  • Then cut back the remaining shoots to 10 to 30 centimeters
  • Ideally cut a few millimeters above a rosette of leaves or sleeping eyes

After the rejuvenation cut, your oleander will be grateful if you repot it promptly. The change to fresh substrate awakens the floral spirits, which drives the shoot out of the old wood of the rootstock. In the following two to three weeks, the plant is allowed to recover from the exertions in the partially shaded, warm location. The rejuvenated oleander should only be cleared out after regeneration, provided the weather conditions permit. Please note that a radical rejuvenation cut will result in the failure of this year's bloom.


Deriving is better than rejuvenating

A radical rejuvenation cut will put your oleander to the test. It is tricky to put a native shrub on the cane. If you take this measure on ornamental trees from distant countries, renewed budding is questionable. As long as your rose laurel has one or two young side shoots, you should instead carry out a rejuvenation using a derivation cut. For this purpose, shorten aging and excessively long branches to an unbranched, young side branch in the lower shoot region. Use scissors or a saw exactly where old and young fork. The young wood takes on the leadership position, benefits from the increased sap pressure and sprouts vigorously.

Raising oleanders to a high trunk - that's how it works

As a high trunk, oleander is a feast for the eyes and in great demand. Plants that are fully grown are costly because the construction work is very time-consuming. Reason enough for the enthusiastic hobby gardener to take the demanding project into their own hands. A young oleander with a strong central shoot offers the best starting position. This is how the parenting cut to the tall trunk succeeds in an exemplary manner:

  • Cut off all side branches from the central branch
  • Insert the support rod with the length of the desired stem height into the soil next to the central shoot
  • Fix the central drive to the support rod with hose ties
  • Gradually guide the central drive onto the support rod
  • Cut off all side shoots continuously to promote height and thickness growth

If the tip bud is three to four leaves above the desired crown height, the shoot tip is cut. In accordance with the law of growth of peak funding, you initiate the branching to the crown with this cut. Select the strongest side shoots as crown shoots and shorten them to three leaf whorls. As a result, a spherical, flower-rich oleander crown forms.

frequently asked Questions

Is Oleander Poisonous?

The highly toxic cardiac glycoside oleandrin significantly limits the joy of opulent oleander. Even a small amount of 15 to 20 grams of fresh oleander leaves is enough for an adult to trigger acute symptoms of intoxication such as cramps, nausea and severe vomiting. Cardiac arrhythmias often occur, which can be fatal without medical intervention. A tiny dose of oleandrin is life threatening to children and pets. Only include an oleander in the design plan if it is impossible for children and animals to access the plant. For all maintenance and cutting work, please protect yourself with suitable clothing, gloves and protective goggles.

In winter quarters, the oleander is a victim of scale insects that sit in hordes on the leaves. What can I do?

With a strong scale insect infestation, your oleander is counted. As an immediate measure, shower the plant with the strongest possible jet of water. Cut off the shoots that are still most severely affected. Branches that are less heavily populated with scale insects should be left standing so that the next flowering period does not fail completely. Fight the rabble with a solution of 1-2 tablespoons of pure soft soap (17.27 € at Amazon *) per 1 liter of lime-free water and 1-2 splashes of alcohol. It is helpful to wipe the pests regularly with an alcohol-soaked cloth.

What to do with oleander clippings?

All parts of the oleander plant contain highly toxic oleandrin, which is lethal to humans and animals even in small quantities. As a result, the clippings have lost nothing on the compost heap. Put cut branches, plucked leaves and wilted flowers in the organic waste bin. If there is a lot of clippings due to a rejuvenation cut, fill it into a sturdy sack and hand it in at the nearest waste disposal facility. Please do not bury the remains so that no moles or other underground garden dwellers fall victim to the toxin.

The 3 most common mistakes

If an oleander only vaguely resembles a lavish flowering bush, the cause is mostly to be found in incorrect pruning. If you can exclude location deficits, pest infestation and diseases, please refer to the following table for advice with the 3 most common cutting errors, typical damage patterns and tips for prevention or correction:

Cutting errorsDamagePrevention / Correction
no plant pruningbare shrub basePrune after planting and in the following year
never exposedpremature balding to a leafless skeletonThinning out dead wood and transverse branches once a year
withered flowers not trimmedshort flowering period and growth of poisonous fruitsShorten faded shoots continuously


Oleander's good-natured cut tolerance extends to the roots. If you repot the flowering bush in spring, you can use the previous container again. A root cut ensures that the capacity is sufficient for another year. To do this, use a sharp knife to reduce the size of the root ball laterally and at the bottom. Please only use a root cut if your oleander does not want further growth in height and width.