How do I keep my oleander small?

Answered by Tom Adger

Keeping an oleander plant small can be achieved through regular pruning and maintenance. Here are some detailed steps to help you in keeping your oleander plant small:

1. Timing: The best time to prune an oleander plant is in late summer or early fall, after the blooming season has ended. This allows the plant to recover and prepare for new growth before the colder months.

2. Equipment: Use sharp, clean pruning shears or loppers to make precise cuts. This helps prevent damage to the plant and reduces the risk of disease transmission.

3. Shaping: Start by assessing the shape and size you want for your oleander plant. If it has become too tall or leggy, you can reduce its height by cutting back the stems. Aim to cut them to half the desired height. For example, if you want a 4-foot plant, cut it back to 2 feet. Make the cuts just above a leaf node or bud to encourage new growth.

4. Removing new shoots: To maintain a compact size, regularly remove new shoots that emerge from the base of the plant. These can be snipped off at the base using pruning shears. By removing these shoots, you prevent the plant from becoming too bushy or sprawling.

5. Deadheading: After the oleander has finished blooming, remove spent flowers by cutting them back to a leaf node or bud. This process, known as deadheading, helps redirect the plant’s energy towards new growth instead of seed production.

6. Thinning: If your oleander becomes too dense or crowded, thinning out some of the branches can help improve airflow and light penetration. Remove selected branches from the base or where they join larger stems to open up the plant’s structure.

7. Hygiene: After each pruning session, it’s crucial to clean your tools with a disinfectant to prevent the spread of diseases among plants. This is especially important if you’re working with multiple plants in your garden.

8. Safety precautions: Remember that all parts of the oleander plant are toxic, so wear gloves and long sleeves while pruning to avoid skin contact. Also, ensure that pets and children are kept away from the pruned branches and clippings.

Personal Experience: I have been pruning my own oleander plant for several years now, and following these steps has helped me maintain its size and shape to my liking. By pruning annually, I have been able to prevent the plant from becoming too large and unruly. It has also encouraged healthy growth and abundant blooming each year.

In summary, to keep your oleander plant small, prune it annually in late summer or early fall. Shape the plant by cutting off new shoots at the base and reduce its height by cutting back the stems if necessary. Regular maintenance, such as deadheading and thinning, helps maintain a compact size and promotes healthy growth. Remember to follow safety precautions and maintain good hygiene while pruning.