Pruning oleander: all about the right time & cut


For me plants are some of the most exciting living beings, even though they live in slow motion. They have fascinating abilities and just so much potential! That's why I studied organic farming. However, since plants are rather thin on the ground in my city, I often spend time hiking in the nearby mountains at the weekend. In the future I would love to run a farm myself.

Favourite fruit: strawberries and gooseberries
Favourite vegetable: courgettes

Oleander pruning also requires some knowledge. Let us show you when to cut oleander and give helpful tips on how to do it right.

Pruning oleander with garden shears
For lush flowering of the oleander, the plant should be pruned regularly [Photo: Olaf Speier/]

Oleander (Nerium oleander) should be pruned regularly to encourage compact growth and lush blooms. Fortunately, these pretty, ornamental shrubs tolerate a decent amount of pruning from time to time. However, pruning oleander still requires some care.

Pruning oleander is relatively uncomplicated. However, keep in mind that the buds for the flowers are already developing by late summer of the previous year. So cutting back the oleander too much will prevent it from producing many flowers the following year. Read about what to do when pruning oleander and how you can protect the buds, here.

When to cut oleander?

Oleander can be pruned at different times depending on the desired result. Depending on whether you want to cut back or encourage growth by pruning, either late autumn or early spring is the perfect time.

Pruning oleander in spring

Regular thinning and any training cuts should be carried out in spring. Choose an early date in order for the oleander to start its growing season freshly pruned. Cut shoots that are too long back to the next shoot instead of just trimming the tips of all shoots. This is because buds grow on the tips, which should eventually still develop into flowers. Any idividual unwanted shoots can also be cut of in this way in summer. This way, you can encourage growth at the crown and prevent the plant from growing too large. Leave the fruits that appear after flowering, since these will develop into buds for next year.

Pink oleander flowers
The buds are located at the tips of the shoots [Photo: Mr.Somchai Sukkasem/]

Pruning oleander in autumn

Autumn is the best time for more radical pruning before moving it into its winter location. More severe pruning becomes necessary when older oleander plants start to wither over time. To do this, cut the stems down to forty to fifty centimetres. It seems extreme, but you’ll notice that your oleander will sprout back even more vigourously afterwards. But the roots need to be healthy for such a brutal measure. If it seems weak, repot the oleander in fresh substrate beforehand to strengthen the root. Thin or weak branches can be cut down to the base to thin out the base. Pruning may also be necessary for diseased plants. However, only cut these plants back as far as the infestation requires.

Instructions for pruning oleander

Below, you’ll find instructions for pruning oleander in the spring and autumn.

Regular pruning in early spring:

  • Cut shoots that are too long or weak back to the main shoot
  • Do not trim the tips or fruiting stems, otherwise the buds will be removed
  • Wear gloves to prevent skin irritation from the sap
  • Unwanted shoots can also be regularly trimmed during the summer

Radical pruning in autumn:

  • Cut back branches to 40 – 50 cm; older specimens may require the use of a saw
  • Thinner branches can be cut down to the base
  • Only oleander plants with healthy roots should be pruned this heavily; if the root is weakened repot the shrub in fresh soil before pruning
  • Diseased oleander plants should be only be cut back as far as the disease or infestation has spread