Dead oleanders

azwannabeApril 24, 2011

We are part timers here in Bisbee. We arrived Friday night for a 2 week stay. Sat. AM we discovered that our huge and very well established oleander hedges are dead, dead, dead!

So what is it, the extreme low temps in early Feb. or the dread oleander disease OL (or whatever it's called)?

I've been out for a walk this AM, and our dead oleanders are the only ones still standing, everyone else seems to have cut back to about 4 inches from the ground. We'd already decided to cut and wait to see what happens.

We just have no idea what to expect, how long to wait for regrowth, etc.

Words of wisdom, good suggestions?


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SE AZ had a brutal winter with record-setting lows. Only time will tell if your oleanders will come back. Cut them back but keep watering them for another month or two. If they don't come back by June then chances are very good they are dead forever.

Enjoy your stay in Bisbee, I love that town!


    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 10:05PM
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mangledmind(AZ 9B)

GREAT ... now plant something EDIBLE ... I HATE oleanders ... the worst plant intro for the "keepin' up with the Jones' crowd" EVER ... wish arizona would BAN them from any and all soil ...

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 1:18AM
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Mangledmind, tell us how you REALLY feel! LOL

Why do you hate it so much? And what would you recommend they plant instead, and why?

Oleander is toxic, one of its biggest drawbacks, but it's attractive, fast-growing, easy to care for, evergreen in most of AZ, tolerates heat, doesn't use much water, and makes a great privacy hedge. What do you recommend as an alternative?


    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 5:02PM
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Thanks for comments both positive and negative! I very nearly said no oleander hate mail! It seems that the low temps in early Feb. were the cause. Just this morning I am seeing more new growth than was visable Sat. AM. Landscape person coming tomorrow to cut back dead growth. Will also investigate putting in drip water lines and timer. We'll be very exposed for awhile, but hopefully regrowth will be fast.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 12:55AM
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Every single oleander plant in my neighborhood is dead or dying right now, too. That last frost killed lots of stuff (all the palms are dead or suffering, too). Unfortunately, what I've noticed is that wherever there is new growth on the oleanders there are millions of yellow aphids. You'll need to get some ladybugs or a spray to get rid of them or they'll spread to the rest of your garden, which I just found the hard way.... (I hate the oleanders too, and didn't mind them dying so I could replace them with a couple of fruit trees.)

My husband is in charge of the non-edible plants (b/c I don't care about them) and so I never looked at them til my garden started getting little yellow bugs. Someone here pointed out they could be oleander aphids, and that's when I looked at the oleander and saw the same bugs covering them. Out on walks, I've seen them on every oleander around.

Regrowth should be very fast, just make sure you get rid of the aphids!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 6:53PM
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If you kill off the aphids, you will never attract aphid-eaters.

If you leave the aphids alone, ladybugs, syrphid flies, and lacewings will start arriving to lay eggs on the infested plants. They want enough aphids to ensure their babies will survive.

Hummingbirds, verdins and even sparrows will devour aphids like teenagers eat popcorn.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 8:12AM
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lazygardens, that makes perfect sense. But aren't the aphids killing the plants? I am not trying to eradicate every last one, but really, every single green branch on every oleander here is completely covered by them. I've never seen anything like it. Can they really come back if they are so infested?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 9:24AM
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Oleander aphids rarely impact the health of the plant. Plus, they are a smorgasbord for beneficial insects that feed on aphids. In addition the ones Lazygardens mentioned you'll find parasitic wasps (very tiny,non-stinging)and Assassin Bugs. Verdins (small canary-like birds) love to feast on these aphids as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: Oleander aphid

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 11:35AM
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An update of our "dead" oleanders: Before too many days had gone by, we were seeing regrowth both from the bottom and further up many branches. We found someone to trim them back and haul away the cut branches to the landfill. Purchased soaker hoses and strung them out, and have someone to come by and turn on the water a couple of times a week until the monsoons start. We're back in WA. state now and won't be back until later in the fall. Pretty amazing, with all that cut back, we were very open to the neighborhood and there was certainly more light in the house! Thanks for all your thoughts>

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 9:10PM
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crista(Sunset 13)

I'm not an oleander lover, but you definitely have a plant that is hardy for the summers when you aren't in AZ. Enjoy Washington!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 11:30AM
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haname(z9 AZ NE Phoenix)

The oleander is an underappreciated but extremely valuable plant. Look at all the different beneficials it attracts!

Here is a link that might be useful: Beneficial Insectary Plants

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 12:45AM
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