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Oh no, tell me this isn't oleander?!

Tucson, AZ

When we first moved into our house in March, here in Tucson, AZ everything in the yard was dead. There were these 4 bushes out back that looked like tumbleweeds. I seriously thought they were. When I turned on my drip system, I noticed greenery coming out from under the brown dead leaves. I worked really hard taking out and cutting back everything dead. Now I have 4 very healthy looking bushes and the real surprise came these past 2 weeks when they bloomed! It is hard to grow things out here in AZ and these seem to flourish on little to no water or maintanance. However, they do look a lot like oleander. I have 2 small kids and a dog. Now, I'm afraid I'll need to rip them out. Are these in fact, oleander? Would you keep them around with small kids and a dog?

Thumbnail by growingup
Grapeville, PA(Zone 6a)

That looks an awful lot like oleander to me...maybe post it in the plant id section to make certain. I have a friend that lives in Phoenix and she had it growing at their new home and had to rip it out. So apparently it will thrive out there. As the mom of a small child and dog, I would say its on its way out.

Sydney, Australia

Yes it looks like one and in fact they are very common and very tough...I know they are poisonous but then so are about 60% of the things we grow in our gardens...even rhubarb leaves are poisonous just look it up somewhere ...yes some more than others...if your children or dogs are going to chew on them get rid of them ...and maybe check out other things as well...good luck:)

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Yep, definitely oleander.

Tuscaloosa, AL(Zone 7b)

Yes, rip them out. While it is true that many plants have poisonous parts, for some reason oleander is very attractive to children. Several years ago in Los Angeles County, two small children -- I think they were about 5 and 7 -- died from eating oleander leaves. The county coroner kept saying that there had never been a fatality with oleander leaves, but finally concluded that the leaves had, in fact, killed the children.

When I was living in Phoenix there was an article in the paper about oleander. Another thing they mentioned was that if the leaves, twigs or the juice from the leaves gets in a child's eye, it can cause blindness. We were living in a rented house so could not rip the oleanders out, but we always made sure that the 3-year-old was never allowed in the front yard unsupervised. Another plant to watch out for is castor bean -- ingestion of one or two beans can kill a small child. Again, these are very attractive to children as they like to play with the beans. When I was growing up, I remember that occasionally there would be a fatality with them.

Tucson, AZ

Oh geez. Well, while I love that they are so hearty and how much love I gave them to nurse them back to health, I am looking forward to replacing them with something new and exciting. I need to look up that bean you are talking about. I want to make sure I don't have that growing anywhere either. Might as well rip out the oleander before it gets too big. Anyone have great tips for that?

Tuscaloosa, AL(Zone 7b)

Getting them out will not be easy as you'll have to get the roots, too. Oleanders are so hardy they are planted as traffic dividers along the center of highways in CA.

Here's a link to the castor bean:

You are probably in Zone 8a and there are tons of possibilties for that zone.

Here's a link to the National Gardening Association list for zone 8 (591 plants):

My personal favorite when I lived in Phoenix was the Desert Willow or Orchid of the Desert. It's used as a street tree there, low maintenance, blooms nearly year round. Absolutely gorgeous.


Tucson, AZ

Karen, how sweet of you to provide me such great links. Thank you.

Tuscaloosa, AL(Zone 7b)

You're welcome. Happy gardening in your new home!


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