Winter puts exotic plants to the test. Some plants cope well with frost and wind, but most are very sensitive to it. But what about the oleander? Is it possible to overwinter the oleander outside? We answer the question and explain how you should care for the plant during the cold season.
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Is it possible to overwinter the oleander outside?
This question may be asked by many amateur gardeners, since the woody plant grows quickly and vigorously. Lugging the heavy tub back and forth is not always possible. A tall tree also does not fit in every room. But letting this one freeze to death outside after years of caring for it is not an option either.
What temperatures can it thrive in winter?
For now: in this country, the oleander is generally not considered hardy. Only in southern regions of Germany with a really mild climate can it stay outside all year round. Such are, for example, certain wine regions such as Kaiserstuhl and Ihringen, as well as Rhine Valley and some parts of North Rhine-Westphalia. This means that temperatures in the region must not drop below -5° Celsius in winter. Temperatures around the 0° mark it can thrive for a short time without any problems. However, permafrost and ground frost quickly get to it. Heavy snowfall in winter can also damage its shoots.
Winterize oleander outdoors: Winter protection
So, if the climate permits, you can leave the oleander outside during the winter. When doing so, keep the following in mind:
- Do not plant container plants in the garden, because then you will not bring the woody plant out so easily. It is better to dig a hole in the bed and put the oleander together with the tub in the hole.
- A thick mulch layer of shredded autumn leaves and brushwood or bark mulch can protect the exotic from frost.
- After pruning, the above-ground parts of the plant must also be protected from frost. In the garden centers you can find a special translucent fleece.
- To prevent the branches and leaves from freezing, you can first cut back the oleander. But you need to do this task no later than the end of September, so that then in October he can recover from the cut. (If you bring the oleander inside, then you can postpone the pruning by 2 – 3 weeks).
- If you want to overwinter it outside, stop watering and fertilizing in November.
When should you bring in the exotic?
As a general rule, in areas with a long, frosty winter, bring the oleander indoors in early November. As soon as temperatures drop below 5 degrees Celsius, you should bring it into winter quarters. However, winter quarters does not automatically mean the house. In fact, it will feel more comfortable in an unheated winter garden, in a greenhouse or in rooms and buildings with windows.
The exotic likes it bright, but can poorly tolerate direct sunlight during the dormant period. Therefore, the best place for it is an off-sun place away from the windows.
Frequently asked questions about overwintering
We have received many questions from our readers regarding overwintering. The most common question is what to do if the oleander was planted out in the garden in the spring and you don’t want to or can’t bring it indoors. Then there is only one thing left to do: protect the exotic as much as possible from frost and keep your fingers crossed. But even in this regard, there are several tricks that could help:
- Transplant the oleander directly in front of the house wall and protect it from wind, frost, rain and snow with a mini-greenhouse.
- If the oleander is in the tub, place it on a Styrofoam plate and wrap the tub with fleece. Loosely tie the fleece around the tub and then fill it with autumn leaves.
- Cover the top of the tub with a 10 cm layer of mulch to protect the roots from frost.
Care in late autumn and winter
If you prune in the fall, choose a dry but cloudy day. The open intersections can burn if exposed to the sun’s rays. If it rains, the wet pruning wounds are a haven for bacteria and viruses. After pruning, you can cover the oleander with foil for 2-3 days to protect it from rain.
Watering: Watering, whether in the garden or greenhouse, is done only when needed. Wait until the soil dries well.
Fertilizing: You can stop giving fertilizer at the end of September.
Pests and diseases: Before wintering, you should also check for signs of infestation and treat the plant as needed.
Hibernation: Around the beginning of April, after the end of the continuous frosts, it is time to hibernate the potted plant. It is best to first place it outdoors for a few hours during the day and then bring it indoors in the evening. Remove the protective layer of mulch in mid-April and apply fertilizer at the end of the month. Then you can also water the plant regularly.