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With its Mediterranean blooms, oleander is one of the most popular potted plants. Due to its natural origin, the flowering tree, also known as rose laurel, is only partially hardy in this country. In cold areas, it needs appropriate winter quarters, while a few species in particularly mild regions, with appropriate protection, can also spend the winter outdoors. Regardless of the variety, there are a few things to consider in order to get these attractive plants through the winter unscathed.


Overwinter in the house

Like the majority of Mediterranean pot plants, the oleander (Nerium oleander) only tolerates light frost down to a maximum of minus 5 degrees. As a result, he has to spend the winter indoors in most regions of Germany. Nevertheless, he should stay outside as long as possible but also go outside again as early as possible.

In order to be able to leave the plants outside for as long as possible, they can be wrapped in fleece to protect them from cold temperatures and placed in a sheltered place near a house wall. Late autumn still has a few warm days, which should be used for the sake of the oleander. This hardens the plant so that it can better survive the winter indoors, as many look pretty beat up in the spring.

Oleander, Nerium oleander


Prepare for the winter

Depending on the weather and the risk of frost, it is finally time for the rose laurel to move to its winter quarters around the beginning of November. But until then, there are still minor maintenance measures to be taken. The oleander must be checked for a possible pest infestation by spider mites or scale insects and, if present, must be eliminated. It is also advisable to clear the soil of any weed growth. Pruning measures are better postponed to the time after hibernation in early spring.

The plant can only be pruned minimally if the space available in the winter quarters is limited. To save space, shoots that are too long can also be loosely tied together. However, you should make sure that the inside of the plant is still sufficiently ventilated.


Even if oleander is only partially hardy, it can also overwinter outside in regions with mild winters under certain conditions. Only a few varieties are suitable for such overwintering. The most frost hardy are Nerium Oleander 'Italia', Nerium villa romaine, Nerium atlas and Nerium cavalaire. However, even they cannot do without good winter protection. This affects the above-ground parts of the plant and in particular the root ball.

  • choose a sheltered place to hibernate
  • if possible in front of a house wall, under a roof overhang
  • place the bucket on a wooden pallet or 5 cm thick styrofoam board
  • this protects the bale from ground frost
  • wrap the bucket loosely with warming materials
  • Jute, fleece, bubble wrap, bamboo or coconut mats are suitable
  • cover the soil with a layer of mulch
  • fill straw or dry leaves between bucket and casing
  • finally fix the whole thing with a string
  • To protect above-ground parts of the plant, loosely tie branches together with string
  • then put a light and air-permeable garden fleece over the plant
  • to water on frost-free days, leave a small opening in the cover
bark mulch

Tip: If, despite the mild climate, longer periods of frost with temperatures below minus 5 degrees are announced, it is advisable to bring the plant into a frost-free room in the basement or garage to be on the safe side.

winter quarters

The ideal winter quarters

The location for the winter should be chosen well, because oleanders do not like it at all if it is moved one or more times during the hibernation. In addition, one should not simply place it in the apartment. The apartment, especially the living room, is the worst possible place to spend the winter. As a rule, the apartment is much too warm in winter and not bright enough. It would very quickly lead to the formation of weak, wilted shoots that would not be able to survive outdoors.

  • evergreen rose laurel would like to stand bright in winter
  • the cooler the room, the darker oleanders can stand and vice versa
  • cool temperatures, generally a must in the winter quarters
  • Room temperatures between two and ten degrees are considered optimal
  • that alone excludes the living room as a winter quarters
  • what is still important is good ventilation
  • This is to prevent diseases and pests
  • at best overwinter in a bright cold house, unheated conservatory or greenhouse
  • also suitable for bright and cool stairwells
  • Cellars in most cases too dark and too warm
  • therefore only recommended in exceptional cases
  • if necessary use plant lamps for more brightness

At temperatures above 15 degrees, the risk of pest or disease infestation as well as horny growth or crippling occurs is significantly increased. If you have no way of overwintering oleanders professionally, you can use the overwintering service offered by some tree nurseries and garden centers. Going into the living room is not a good idea.

Tip: If light hibernation is not possible, oleanders can also hibernate a little darker and then, above all, cooler, for example in a cool basement or a frost-free garage.


Care in winter quarters

Of course, you cannot leave rose laurels to themselves in the winter quarters. Even now he needs a minimum of care. It should be watered significantly less, as the need is lower during the winter and the soil does not dry out as quickly in the cool temperatures. Despite everything, the root ball should not dry out completely. It is usually sufficient to give some water once a week.

The cooler the room, the less it needs to be watered. No less important is regular checking for pest infestation in order to eliminate it as early and quickly as possible. In addition, it should be aired regularly on frost-free days. Don't fertilize in winter. You fertilize until September at the latest and then only start again in the spring after clearing out with an initial fertilization.

Oleander, Nerium oleander

After hibernation

As already mentioned, rose laurel should be put back outside as early as possible. However, this is not possible without a short adjustment phase. As long as heavier frosts are predicted, you should wait to get used to them. This plant usually copes well with light night frosts, which can occur in spring.

Depending on the weather, plants that were overwintered at temperatures below 10 degrees can go outside as early as the end of March/beginning of April. Specimens that were housed at 10 or more degrees have often already started to sprout again in the winter quarters. Since these young shoots are particularly at risk of frost, you should possibly wait a little longer here, if necessary until the ice saints.

To cut

Cut back after the winter break

Before you finally put the oleander back outside, it should be pruned. The best time to do this is in early spring, unless pruning has already taken place before wintering. The pruning ensures a brisk new growth and protects the plant from bare.

Secateurs for pruning
  • to do this, cut back one or more old shoots to 10 - 20 cm
  • Pruning into the old wood primarily encourages the formation of long shoots and leaf mass
  • Cutting back in the flowering region promotes the formation of short shoots that flower relatively quickly
  • Do not cut off inflorescences!
  • at the tips are the buds of the new flowers
  • spent inflorescences, the plant repels itself
  • removing the seeds is an advantage
  • they cost the plant a lot of energy

Tip: It is important to wear gloves when cutting, because the sap that escapes is poisonous and can cause skin irritation.

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