Pruning Oleander Shrubs: When And How To Prune An Oleander

Gardener Pruning Oleander Shrubs
oleander pruning
(Image credit: hemeroskopion)

Oleanders (Nerium oleander) are beautiful mounded shrubs with glossy, leather-like evergreen foliage and brilliant blooms. Dwarf varieties reach 3 to 5 feet (1-1.5 m.) at maturity while full-size shrubs will grow up to 12 feet (3.5 m.) tall and 12 feet (3.5 m.) wide.

Pruning oleander shrubs is not necessary for health but will keep the shrub tidy and control growth. The time to prune oleanders and how to prune an oleander for best results are important considerations whenever oleander trimming does become necessary.

When to Prune Oleanders

Oleander should be pruned in late winter to early spring, just before new growth starts. Do not prune in autumn, as this will encourage new growth that could be harmed by frost. Oleanders bloom on new growth, so all pruning should be done on old wood.

Having the right tools makes pruning oleander shrubs easier. Hand pruners and loppers are usually sufficient to trim oleanders. Make sure that your tools are in good working order and sharp. Wipe all debris from your tools using a clean rag, soak them in a solution of one part bleach and three parts water for five minutes, then rinse with clean water. This will help reduce the spread of pathogens.

How to Prune an Oleander

Oleander trimming is not difficult but requires some planning. Step back from your bush and formulate a pruning plan in your head. Take note of the desired shape you wish to achieve and get an idea of how much you need to trim away.

Annual pruning of oleander bushes involves inspection for dead or damaged limbs first. Remove these limbs at the ground or at the point where they join a healthy limb. As a rule, do not remove more than one-third of the entire bush. Trim branches just above a leaf node. This will encourage new growth.

Continual pruning in this manner will encourage your oleander to be bushy, rather than tall and lanky. Every two or three years you can prune your oleander for renewal. This means taking more than one-third off and cutting the oleander back aggressively.

Rake up and dispose of all debris after you have finished pruning.