Add Oleander to Backyard for Screen?

(Caitlin) Fresno, CA(Zone 9b)

We went on a trip up to Sacramento last weekend and I couldn't help but admire the huge, beautiful hot pink, light pink, and white oleander in the 99 freeway median. Gorgeous. It brightened up what would have otherwise been a truly dull trip!

I've been thinking about if I should consider one or more of these oleanders for my backyard fence screen. Our backyard is a fishbowl.

As you can see I do have kids, but they've never chewed on a plant in my garden before...

Does anyone have experience with Oleander in this type of environment, where it would be be encouraged to become tall for a screen and not allowed to get as wide as it is in the freeway median?

Thumbnail by Wifeygirl Thumbnail by Wifeygirl
Santa Ana, CA(Zone 10b)

If you can train your kids, and their friends, they might work. I don't know how well they would do in your zone, but all parts of the plants, (even the smoke) are toxic. In coastal So. Cal. we have lost most of them to a disease carried by insects, but I don't know if it has gotten that far north yet. They are a fountain shaped bush that will get quite wide as it gets the hight you are looking for. I would opt for something else.

(Pegi) Norwalk, CA(Zone 10b)

I would be afraid to plant them as I know how toxic they are. I remember once, years ago when there were castor bean plants growing right next to the side walk and they had to be removed because school children passed by there every day. Pretty plants though.

Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Hi,
When I was a kid, back in the 60's, people used oleander bushes all the time for hedges. I remember the highschool ripping out their oleanders. We asked for the ones that they had removed and were given them. We took them home and planted them as a hedge to hide the chainlink fencing.
Have you ever tasted an oleander leaf? Well I did and it was bitter to taste. I spit it out, which I consider a normal reaction. I don't think it will pose a problem if you educate the kids, and keep the wee ones away from it.
We played all around and under the bushes. We made Lei necklaces with the flowers. It is a hardy, drought tolerant bush. I've always been rather fond of them. Once established they need very little care. Maybe an occasional pruning. You should expect them to be about five feet in diameter, but trimming will help.
These days, I see that the oleanders are being pruned to only have a single trunk. I see a lot of them being used as parking lot landscaping.
Just thought that you might appreciate knowing about my experiences growing up around oleanders. I hope that it help you.
WIB~
SW

Hemet, CA(Zone 9b)

How about plumbagos they grow like weeds.

(Caitlin) Fresno, CA(Zone 9b)

Occarol, that is a good point about training their friends as well. That might be more annoyance than it's worth.

Thanks SingingWolf. I really appreciate your insight! That is helpful. My children have never eaten any of my plants before, except the ones I've given them to eat like mint or basil. I seriously doubt they'd do it here. I'm torn.

Dillansnana, I'll check plumbagos out. =)

Carlsbad, CA(Zone 10b)

Oleanders have a virus that is slowly killing them here in San Diego County, and it has gradually spread north into LA, Santa Barbara, Ventura and other nearby counties, and has been reported to be across the southern US. It was first noticed in the early 90's and is now very evident with about half of them dead or dying. Here's a link with more info: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7480.html

Also, while I used to like oleanders, especially the rows of huge blooming bushes, I have realized that there are so many other shrubs that are almost as drought tolerant and much more attractive, IMHO. And my new passion is planting for butterflies, Monarchs in particular as their numbers are down to scary levels, so I have been planting flowering shrubs that will attract them, as well as bees and hummingbirds. I am on the lookout those that will bring in butterflies year round as it is wonderful to have them flitting through the yard all day. I am currently making plans to replant a section of steep bank and the beds along the driveway so am compiling a list of easy care, drought tolerant blooming shrubs that I will be happy to share if anyone is interested.
Annie

Santa Ana, CA(Zone 10b)

They were the perfect freeway plant for many years...drought tolerant, grew in any kind of soil, nothing would eat them, and they were pretty. Then came the virus.

(Caitlin) Fresno, CA(Zone 9b)



This message was edited Jul 29, 2014 1:23 PM

Thumbnail by Wifeygirl
(Caitlin) Fresno, CA(Zone 9b)

So sad about the Oleander. They make driving the freeways so lovely!

Annie, I would love your list of drought tolerant blooming shrubs! I have planted tons of flowers, but still need to plant those foundational shrubs that will be there all year round. As you can see in this pic, that corner by the fence could really use some flowering shrubs, and it's not hit by the yard sprinklers so the plants there must be more drought tolerant!
=)

Thumbnail by Wifeygirl
Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Hey all,

I was just thinking about this thread the other day. I discovered that the oleanders I planted along the side fence line around the back are not only still alive but they appear to be happy.
Seeing as I have not watered them since I planted them, that's pretty good. I had completely forgotten about them until after we started talking about them. A testament to their hardiness.

Annie I'd like to see your list too. I have planted thousands of trees around here, but am sadly deficient in shrubs. I am also interested in plants for the butterflies and birds.

Wifeygirl, you have lots of nice plants but I see what you mean about that corner. Let me think on it.

WIB~
SW

Santa Ana, CA(Zone 10b)

SW, Glad to hear your Oleanders are doing well! I think most of the virus is along the southern coastal areas, but even here I see an occasional old bush. The virus is spread by a leafhopper. Maybe they don't like the inland climate.

Carol

Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

How are you Carol,

Yep, the oleanders are doing well. I think that the dryer conditions here help the oleanders resist predation. It's hard to say. I started looking for oleanders, and discovered that people out here are still buying them and planting them. Probably because they are so drought tolerant. Also, because they are used for inexpensive privacy hedges.

I haven't seen any leafhoppers around this summer, and for that matter I've seen only a few grasshoppers. What I have seen, and it's scary, is the Bagrada bug. Have you heard of anything that kills them?

Wifeygirl, have you thought about planting a pretty hibiscus in your corner by the wall. I think it would flourish there. Mulch it, and it won't need as much water. Please think about putting in drip irrigation for your garden. It really does help in our zone.

WIB~
SW

Santa Ana, CA(Zone 10b)

I had never heard of Bagrada Bug before. Now I know what those bugs that eat my sweet alyssum are. As long as they stick to the alyssum, I won't worry about them. The grasshoppers are bad here this year.

Carol

(Caitlin) Fresno, CA(Zone 9b)

I'll be concerned if I find Bagrada bugs here - we live near tons of farm land!

I have noticed hibiscus - I will totally consider it!! Great suggestion! =)

Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Wifeygirl,

I never noticed them before this year. They were pointed out to me by a friend who lives a mile away. I came home and checked that wild mustard out by where the Farmers Market is, and sure enough, I found them all over. All the more reason to remove those non-native invasive mustard plants. Sure is a lot of them. Sigh.

The good news is that I have not spotted them up by my house or in my gardens. Also since DH disced the area where I found the bugs, which wiped out the mustard plants. I'm not seeing them anywhere, except for the Market Garden. DH discs the ground to prevent fires spreading in the mid-summer. Gets too dusty after that. So between the heat and the discing, I am glad they aren't doing as well but I'd like to know how to get rid of 'em.

I sure hope that you don't get them too, Wifeygirl.

Really grateful the grasshoppers aren't a problem this year. Some years they've been so bad, I was having the kids catch 'em and feed 'em to the chickens.

I'm glad you like the idea of a hibiscus. They have lots of colorful varieties to choose from. Do let us see what you decide on. :-)

Carol, they eat alyssum too! :-( I'll just be keeping a look out for them. So far they haven't attacked the Milkweed, the Christmas Cassia, or the Lantana I have in pots near the Market Garden. I suppose I should go out there and take a good look before it gets dark tonight.

WIB~

SW

(Zone 9b)

I am in 9b too. I planted oleanders years ago across my back fence for privacy. I trained them as trees so I could have room to plant other things too under them.. Also the tree look is not as messy as the bushes can get. They are still there and bloom for weeks. My son never showed any interest. I did get bad scale years ago and used a systemic at the roots and that solved that. Other than that no problem all these years except to prune them back every few years.

Another fun tree is crape myrtle though they can be deciduous for about 3 months if it gets cold enough.. You can buy ones that do not get huge. They can be bushes or trees, I prune them to be trees so I can underplant them. They bloom for a long while too. They also come in such great colors.

Bakersfield, CA

unfortunately the "burn" has established here in Bakersfield. I live in a part of town known as the oleander and it's an absolute shame seeing so many of them dying.

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