Can oleander be put into dormancy or does it need to kept warm

jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))September 5, 2005

I have heard several conflicting ideas as to the proper way to overwinter oleander. I have several oleander plants, as well as 15 different brugmansia, and space is at a premium in my home.

I know that the brugs will go into the cold cellar and go dormant with the occasional watering every few weeks.

I am wondering if I can treat the oleander the same way. Last year I had it in the dining room, but had a very bad case of mealy bug. I was hoping to avoid that this year.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When I lived in Toronto, lots of people just grew them in their yards like any other hardy plants... Check with a local nursery though.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2005 at 6:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Oleanders are a semi-tropical evergreen plant. As such, they will need protection from freezing temperatures, but must be allowed to live in a sunny location! Containerized oleanders would be even more cold sensitive than those planted in the ground. I would avoid any temperatures below freezing. These plants can not tolerate being winterized in a sunless location anymore than any other evergreen plant.

I'd work hard to get rid of any mealybug (and other) infestations NOW, before you have to bring the plants inside. Horticultural oil applications would be helpful.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2005 at 12:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My brother sent me a cutting of an Oleander from his home in Texas. It is just beautiful right now and is about 3 1/2 feet tall. It has produced white trumpet flowers for about a month now. My question is this: Since I live in Minnesota, I have to bring the Oleander in from it's sunny location on my deck. It has been growing in a large pot all summer. I have heard that you have to cut it back to let it go into a rest period. How can I accomplish this? Does it still need bright sunlight or would a West or East window be OK? I love this plant and will try to keep it going all winter long if I can so I can enjoy it again next summer. Also, can I make new plants of the cuttings? Thanks so much for your opinions and any information. Dar S.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 11:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Oleander is one of those plants that can be grown very readily as a house plant, without regards to a cold dormancy. Honest!

The problem is that it is not likely to love the transition from a sunny outdoor deck to the inside, where it will be muuuuuch darker (no matter how bright the window is) and much drier.

Do everything you can to up the humidity: moistened pebble trays, humidifier, etc. Misting is NOT an effective method of increasing the humidity, so don't get into that routine. Find the brightest location you can and see what happens. If the plant drops a bunch of leaves (and I predict that it might), you could certainly cut it back severely and the new foliage that emerges will be better able to thrive inside. Be very careful that you do not overwater this drought loving plant once you bring it inside. It will require much less water.

Summer cuttings should root readily if you follow basic guidelines for the propagation of woody stems.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 12:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))


I had a smiliar situation. As well, I have hardly any spare window space after some of my rare variegated brugmansia plants take their place of importance. Last year, I put my entire oleander plants into my cold cellar, with NO lights on, and a temperature that did NOT freeze.

I agree 100% with rhizo, in that one does not wish to over water the plant. I watered mine about a cup of water or so every 3 weeks. It did not lose any leaves, but actually very slowly prepared itself for budding in the spring. Once out doors, after acclimatizing it for a couple of weeks, it burst into bloom and has not stopped yet. Actually I have several different colours of flowers, and also a variegated leaved one. Last year, I kept the variegated leaved one in a window, but this year, I think I will cold cellar it. They were really healthy when I brought them out, and have sung their praise ever since with a profusion of blooms.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 5:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I'd think it would be rather stressful for an evergreen plant do be without some sort of light all winter long. It's sure not something that I'd recommend, but it is interesting that your plant survived it! How long was your plant in the cellar?

I guess the cold and the dark really and truly put your plant into a state of animated suspension.

Just remember, folks, Oleander doesn't NEED a dormant period or a cold period in order to produce plenty of great flowers each year.

The neat thing about all of your Northern folks growing oleander is that you don't have to worry about one of the primary pests....the dreaded oleander caterpillar!

Oh....I meant to remind you to be cautious if you bring this plant into your living space over the winter. It is a highly toxic plant, and should not be where pets or children might nibble or gnaw.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 6:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I agree with Rhizo, Oleander does not need a rest period and it would be the exception to the norm for it to be happy in a cold cellar like dormant Brugs.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 10:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Actually, Oleanders like cool rooms in winter..I had mine for years, kept in an unheated room and it'd bloom all winter long..
Because it was growing tall, I had to rid it becaues of my birds..they'd fly in the back room where the plant lived, and I was worried one would land and nibble on a leaf.

I've learned quite a bit from all you plant experts and discovered many other plants poisonous. I keep my birds wings clipped and everything works out fine. I miss my Oleander much..and it was a gift from a woman I befriended while working at Rentokil..oh well..
BTW, when I say cool, I don't mean leaving it outside during winter in your area. Toni

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 2:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))

I did not say that oleanders need a rest period. Brugmansia don't need it either, although some of them do go dormant and it seems to benefit them. My fig tree on the other hand does need a rest period.

What I did say was that the oleanders do not seem to show any negative side effects with being in dormancy, here in zone 5 Canada. Actually, I did keep one going all winter in the house near a window on the southern exposure. One positive note: the oleander in the cold cellar did not drop any leaves while the one in the house did; the one in the cold cellar did not get any scale or bugs while the one in the house did get scale and mealy bug. Neither bloomed for me. The one in the cold cellar set up for buds earlier than the one that stayed in the house, and throughout the summer has steadily showed a good flowering.

.... just a practical experiment, and those are the results. I do not profess to be a MG, but an avid gardener. :)

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 4:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

They don't need a dormant period. However, I have noticed that they greatly benefit from one. Mine go dormant once the temps. hit the 40's. They stay in a very sunny area all winter, but do no growing or blooming or anything. They come out of dormancy on their own in the spring even without being moved outdoors. The change in sunlight seems to wake them up. The ones here stay dormant for at least 4mos. They only get watered once a month -- very light watering.

I've done both over the years and found that the trees are far healthier and bloom much better when allowed to go dormant as nature dictates.

My mom winters her oleanders in complete darkness with temps. barely above freezing. They do well with that as well as long as they get no water at all during the hibernation.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 1:57AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I resurrected this post since my situation pertains to it. I think I have it right, I just want to double-check. We are getting a summer home in Indiana (Z5) and have a fabulous balcony over-looking a large lake. The balcony faces SE and I would like to have an oleander and adenium on the deck all summer. In winter, I would place them in the sun right in front of the patio window and check in on them periodically (once a month) in the winter for water etc. Since this is a vacation house, we would only water it weekly in the summmer since it is weekend home. I figure with mulch, a self-watering container for the oleander, and a white pot, we should be ok. Winter watering would not be much, since the heat will be low 45-50 F (just so the pipes do not freeze). Since te adenium is decidous and neither like warm winter temps, humidity and winter dryness will not be a problem, while they are resting.
Any thoughts?

    Bookmark   August 2, 2007 at 5:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Mentha(9 CA)

Oleander does not need much water at all. There is an abandoned house about a block away and the oleanders are huge, they get no water excelt the 15 or so inches of rain we get in winter. Potted plants would need a bit more water but not too much. The oleander would be fine outside as long as it has excellent drainage, they DO NOT like wet feet. A SW pot would not be a good idea for an oleander. They must be able to dry out between waterings.
Another thing is oleanders do go dormant. They stop growing in winter, although they don't lose as many of their leaves as other bushes, they still go dormant and should have a resting period. I would be careful having one in a rental, because it is highly poisonous and is a liability.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2007 at 1:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Brad, I agree w/Mentha..In fact, both plants need dormancy in winter..Overwatering either, especially in winter, is a no-no.
Yes, Oleander is extremely poisonous..if you plan on renting your home out, you must warn tenants..especially if they have kids/pets.
I had an Oleander for several yrs, kept in a cold room..though it went dormant it dropped few leaves..It was only watered when soil was completely dry, in a well-draining soil and pot. Good luck, Toni
PS, no, Oleanders do not need to be kept warm in winter..

    Bookmark   August 3, 2007 at 3:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the speedy replies. The home will be a private vacation house, no tenents. We don't have young kids (yet) but we do have a dog (just have to watch it when it's on the balcony). Do you guys think ammending the soil with some potting soil (I am assuming these plants will be planted in sharp-cactus like soil) would be a good idea. I would think that a clay pot with some moisture-retentive soil would be better than a plastic pot with sand-like soil. Any suggestions/comments?

    Bookmark   August 3, 2007 at 3:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Brad, ironically, I read that Oleanders do well in clay soil..I had a friend from WI bring me up some dug from her yard..LOL..I then mixed w/other well-draining soils..though some ppl may disagree with me, this is what I used..
Clay soil, all purpose soil, and sand. It was potted in a plastic pot, kept in a cold back room.
You want well-draining soil, but how often will you water? Although it's true Ole's like to dry out, even as much as a cactus would be kept, you don't want them to die due to lack of water either. The cooler the room the longer soil takes to dry. And you have to remember your plant will be in a container, unlike those that grow in CA's land w/plenty of space..soil will dry out faster in pots..
Will you or someone else care for the plants in winter? Mine used to bloom, in Jan/Feb..Pink and red flowers. They're slow-growing, probably depending on location..
They adore summers outside..
How about your other plant? Toni

    Bookmark   August 3, 2007 at 5:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
milwdave(Zone5 Milwaukee)

Where in Wisconsin does an Oleander grow outdoors? They are not supposed to be hardy here.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 9:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

They may survive a cold/cool winter dormancy with no light but in areas of the country where they are landscape plants they do not go dormant in winter. They are evergreen and almost ever blooming in Phoenix AZ.

(I lived, gardened and worked in horticulture there for fifteen years)

    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 3:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you can't get your oleander in, or for some reason don't; it can survive a BRIEF cold snap. We got snow and freezing rain this year (totally weird/ unexpected for our area) and the oleander was coated for 3 days in ice 1/2" thick.

The ground never froze, and I staked the stems so they didn't snap under the weight of the ice (2 year old plant)

The leaves that were frozen died, but the stems survived and this year we have all new leaves and you would have never known that it had a close call.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2007 at 10:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh I don't know, the idea of leaving my Oleander outside for the winter does not sound good at all. I've lost too many plants that were way hardier that way.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 9:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, they DO grow all over outdoors in Toronto though - it's just a matter of mulching very well, having it close to other plantings, maybe taking into account your own microclimate (there may be better ones than otherwise, and some people may lose the plants in any given year). The question now would be has it had enough acclimatization time outside (was it brought in for the past few wks?) or not.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 5:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

just read all the postings. i have brought my oleanders in 2 winters in a row, they are always doomed to scale within 2 weeks. and i have limited space so i want to put them in my garage until spring and see what happens...hopefully nothing. just wondered if anyone in the Toronto area does the same?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 2:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Just an FYI. I have had olenaders for 4o yr. now in Ks. and I winter them in the garage. I have small roller plates under them to protect them from the cold concrete. They will still get spider mites. I have to watch them closely and I spray them on a warmer afternoon when I can roll them outside just for a few minutes and then back inside they go. I usually only have to spray them once a winter season. I keep five full size plants in the garage and I must spray all five.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 5:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Have Oleander IN 10G pot and it gets stored in garage near Chicago right along with my figs .
Temps in garage get into the teens during January plant sheds its leaves prior then wakes up in spring.
Have had it now for about 7 to 10 years .
Takes root pruning and limb pruning with no problem and cuttings root in water easily.
Came as cutting from friend who brought his parent plant from Italy as scion.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 6:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Just adding my own `testimony': my husband's 25 year old now-7ft pink oleander was strictly a houseplant for 20 years and it did fine and bloomed occasionally with no special care--not even fertilizer; Now I put it outside in the summer and feed it and again, it's doing fine. It needs a lot of water in the spring and summer, like sometimes a few cups a day.

oops meant to add that it's never been put into colder temperatures than room temperature on purpose, but it has survived a couple of furnace failures when we've been away. All of the leaves fall off when it is frozen, but they have come back.

The flowers smell exactly like baby powder. It's funny when they fade because then they're like rotting baby powder!

Also, the plant tends to be leggy as a houseplant and kind of awkwardly shaped overall because it also gets a lot of new growth from the bottom each year. I think it would look better if it was pruned shorter, but it's so nice having tall houseplants that I like to let it get as tall as it can.

This post was edited by Laura2424 on Thu, May 15, 14 at 1:13

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 1:08AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Who am I?
I was at WM and this fellow was on clearance and jumped...
Worried about my Philodendren, Please help!
Hi there everyone. I loved the help that I got about...
How to introduce houseplants to outside and should i worry bout rodent
I got a lot of house plants in the last 9 months. I...
White bugs in saucer under spider plant
I found a pile of these small white bugs in the saucer...
Caitlin Maraist
Only 1/2 of a schefflera remaining...
4 years ago, I adopted this schefflera from a bank...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™