Oleander Winter Care – Bringing Oleander Indoors In Winter

Oleander Winter Care – Bringing Oleander Indoors In Winter

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Bringing the outdoors inside is often a temptation as we try to naturalize our indoor environments and admit some of nature’s beauty into our homes. Bringing oleander indoors may seem like a good idea, but the bushes can get quite large and need full sun. Will they ever bloom inside and will they thrive with interior conditions? We’ll answer these questions and more in the following article.

Tips for Bringing Oleander Indoors

Oleander bushes have been popular container plants since the 1800’s. In the north, they are not terribly hardy and should be potted into containers and overwintered in a sheltered location or indoors for winter. If you are a northern gardener, overwintering oleander indoors may be the key to enjoying the festive blooms and intoxicating scent. There are a few things to note, however, regarding oleander care in winter. Special watering and site requirements will entice your plant to produce blooms when the time arrives.

Oleanders are hardy to 35 degrees F. (2 C.), but such cool temperatures can damage the next season’s buds. If you live in an area that only occasionally experiences such cool temperatures, spread mulch around the root zone to protect the plant.

If cold temperatures are consistently part of your winter weather, try overwintering oleander indoors. Choose a pot that is large enough to encompass the entire root mass. It can be difficult to remove an established oleander, so if you expect to be overwintering the plant annually, simply keep it in its container year-round.

Set the plant out in late spring when the air is warm enough and enjoy it as a patio plant through summer. After it blooms in fall, prune the plant and bring it indoors for winter.

Oleander Winter Care

Oleander care in winter is easy, but first you should do some preparation to make the plant more comfortable. Start by pruning after the plant has flowered. Cut flowered shoots by half and tip prune others. It is not necessary to prune the plant every year but better flower yields will result, as well as a more compact plant. It also makes it easier to keep a container plant in a smaller size.

Watering is an important component of oleander care in winter. Keep your plant fairly dry and in a cool (but not freezing) location from November to February. After February, gradually increase water and light but resist fertilizing this early.

Once outdoor temperatures are warm enough, feed your oleander and begin to reintroduce it to the outdoors gradually. Over time increase water, light, and outside exposure time until you can leave the container outside permanently. This will prevent shock that results from the changed environment.

Oleander Dormancy

Like many plants, oleanders experience a resting period in winter. Cool fall temperatures encourage it to drop leaves and slow its growth. Sunlight and warmth trigger the cessation of oleander dormancy.

You can encourage the plant to start growing by increasing water in spring and fertilizing it with a 30-10-10 liquid plant food. Once it is warm enough to move the container outside, use a 20-20-20 balanced plant food to enhance its growth. If you are not seeing any buds, try a bloom booster food once to promote the formation of flowers.

Avoid repotting your container oleander until after it has bloomed. Repotting should be done in fall as a part of regular oleander winter care.

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Tips for Bringing Outdoor Plants Indoors

The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto

Good news, plant lovers: The end of the outdoor gardening season does not have to mean the end of your container plants. Although most will not survive the winter in freezing climates, they can be brought indoors as houseplants to help them make it through the colder months. Once nighttime temperatures become cooler, it's time to think about bringing your more delicate or temperamental plants indoors (that includes any vacationing houseplants that you brought outdoors in the spring). With a bit of strategy and a little TLC, your outdoor beauties can make it through winter unscathed and ready to enjoy another season in the sunlight come spring.

How to protect plants in winter

Discover different ways to protect vulnerable plants over winter, in our practical guide.

Published: Saturday, 13 April, 2019 at 3:00 pm

Do not To do in September

Tender perennials, specimen trees and container-grown plants can all fall prey to frost, snow and heavy rain during winter. By following our simple guide, you can help your plants survive even the harshest conditions, and prolong the harvest of your edible crops.

You Will Need

  • Bubble polythene
  • Fleece
  • Cloche
  • Broom
  • Straw
  • Greenhouse heater

Step 1

Take a broom and knock snow off plants, before it freezes. This prevents sagging and broken branches under the weight of the snow. Be sure to knock snow off hedges and specimen trees and shrubs, as well as mound-forming evergreens such as hebe, which all suffer irreparable damage from heavy snowfall.

Step 2

Protect greenhouse plants by lining the greenhouse with bubble wrap and consider using a paraffin heater to keep your most tender plants warm. You can create partitions within the greenhouse by making ‘curtains’ using bubble wrap or horticultural fleece. Simply hang them from the roof and ensure they reach the ground, then seal the edges with tape. This will create smaller spaces to heat within the greenhouse, saving you money on heating bills.

Step 3

On the vegetable patch, protect carrots, parsnips and other root crops with a blanket of straw, to stop the ground freezing around them. This will enable you to continue to harvest them when required. Place cloches over salad plants, or sow fresh seed in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse.

Step 4

Move tender succulents, including aeoniums, aloes and echeverias, into a frost-free location in full sun, such as a heated greenhouse, conservatory or south-facing windowsill. Most succulents enter a rest period in winter, so make sure you allow the compost to dry out between waterings.

Step 5

Avoid walking on grass in winter, particularly when frost or snow blankets the lawn. If you do step on it, you’ll notice that your footprints linger, as frozen grass blades break underfoot. Walking on frozen ground may also lead to compaction of the soil, increasing drainage problems and potentially encouraging the onset of fungal diseases.

Step 6

Wrap large pots in hessian sacking or bubble wrap. Tie it securely in place and leave it there throughout winter. If you have large potted plants, wrap the container with a thick layer of insulation, to stop the roots freezing.

A light, monthly application of 10-5-10 NPK water-soluble fertilizer formulated for flowering plants provides the nutrients necessary for blooming. Mixing an extended release fertilizer into the back-fill while planting helps boost growth throughout the season. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this causes the excessive growth of foliage and less flowers, and do not feed during the winter months when plants grow less vigorously.

  • Once established, the angelonia plant becomes very drought-tolerant and requires watering only about once per week, or whenever the soil has dried.
  • A layer of mulch added to the soil surrounding the plants prevents soil-splash, which may cause damage to the foliage and flowers.

What to prune in winter

Discover which plants should be pruned in winter, while they are dormant.

Published: Tuesday, 25 December, 2018 at 6:49 am

Many garden plants benefit from pruning, but it’s important to prune at the right time of year, in the right way. Winter pruning takes place in winter, when plants are dormant.

The aim of winter pruning is to encourage vigour so that fruit trees are productive and shrubs don’t outgrow their space. This is the time to prune your roses, cut back clematis and reshape fruit bushes and trees. Once the leaves have fallen it’s easy to see a plant’s framework, and with our guides to some of the key plants to prune, it’s simple to get started. While plants are dormant, it’s also a good time to carry out renovation pruning, to revive plants that can become large and unproductive, such as viburnum and mahonia. Pruning in winter can also help control or prevent the spread of disease.

Not all plants are suitable for winter pruning. Some plants should be pruned in pruned in spring, while others are best left until summer or autumn.

We list common plants that should be pruned in winter, below.


Grapevines are woody, deciduous plants, which ooze sap, or ‘bleed’ when they’re pruned. If cut stems bleed it can weaken the plant, so it’s important to prune them in mid-winter, when they’re deeply dormant. Other plants that bleed when pruned include acers, birches and figs. Prune in December or January, by cutting back to a main ‘rod’, or arm, that’s trained out vertically along support wires.

Autumn-fruiting raspberries

Cut all the canes of autumn-fruiting raspberries down to within 5cm of the ground every year, from autumn to late winter. This encourages them to send up fresh new stems that will bear fruit in the coming autumn.

Group 3 clematis

Group 3 clematis flower in mid-late summer. Prune in February by cutting the plant down to 10cm above the ground to remove long, old growth and encourage strong flowering shoots. Cut back Texensis and viticella hybrids to ground level before new growth emerges. Most other groups of clematis only need a light tidy up after flowering. Find out more about clematis groups.


Wisteria should be pruned twice a year, in December and again in summer, to keep it in check and promote flowering. In winter, prune all sideshoots back to three or four buds. Then after summer flowering, cut back all whippy shoots to 30cm.

Fruit bushes

Fruit bushes, including blueberries and blackcurrants, plus gooseberries and redcurrants should be pruned in winter. As a general rule, remove some old wood each year, creating a goblet shape, leaving healthy young branches that will produce large crops in years to come.


Cut back bush and climbing roses hard in late winter to promote healthy growth, flowering shoots and plenty of blooms in the summer. Many types of rose can be pruned in winter, including floribundas, hybrid teas, shrub roses and climbing roses. Rambling roses should be pruned in late summer, but can be renovated in winter. As a general rule, cut back thin, weak stems the most, and thick, vigorous stems the least. Aim to leave plants anything from 15cm to 45cm tall, depending on the original size of the plant and your preference.

Apple and pear trees

Apples and pear trees should be pruned from November to mid-March to encourage fruiting. Pruning will help encourage a good crop by channelling energy into the remaining buds. Aim to create a wine-glass shape, with evenly spaced branches rising up from the trunk in a circle around a hollow centre. Cut off any shoots at the base and remove dead, diseased or crossing branches.

Do not prune stone fruits, such as cherries or plums, in winter as they risk being infected by a fungal disease called silver leaf. Prune them in early or midsummer instead.

Deciduous ornamental trees

From November to March, remove smaller branches from ornamental trees to create a clean, bare stem at least 90-120cm tall. Remove branches that impede access or block mowing, but cut sensitively, thinning out rather than chopping back the whole canopy.

Deciduous shrubs

Deciduous shrubs should be pruned in winter, particularly those that grow too big for their allocated space. Renovation pruning will revive plants that can become large and unproductive, such as cotinus, berberis, flowering currants and magnolias.

How to Winterize Flower Pots

Outdoor flower pots and containers require proper winterization in order to survive the cold months. The soil in a flower pot is more exposed to wind and other winter elements than garden beds, so perennial plants are more likely to be damaged while dormant. Even if no plants are in the pots, the pots themselves may suffer winter damage. Prepare the flower pots in late fall before the soil begins to freeze to ensure both the pots and the plants inside survive until next spring.

Dig up the roots or rhizomes of tender perennial container flowers such as begonia. Store the plants inside perforated plastic bags filled with dry peat moss in a 40-degree-F location until spring replanting.

Dump out the old potting soil from flower pots that had annuals and tender perennials in them. Place the soil into the compost pile.

  • Outdoor flower pots and containers require proper winterization in order to survive the cold months.

Cover the soil in pots housing hardy perennials with a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch. Use wood chips, bark or straw. Mulching preserves moisture in winter and helps prevent root freeze.

Move plants to a greenhouse, shed or garage to protect them from extreme winter cold and wind if possible. Alternately, move the flower pots to the side of a building or fence that is protected from heavy winds.

Turn empty pots upside down or place them in a covered area so they do not collect snow or water during winter. Standing water in pots may freeze, leading to cracked flower pots.

  • Cover the soil in pots housing hardy perennials with a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch.
  • Turn empty pots upside down or place them in a covered area so they do not collect snow or water during winter.

Place large, heavy planters on wheeled carts to make moving them easier in fall.

Take baskets down from where they are hanging when winterizing your flower pots. Winter winds may blow them down and damage them, or the weight of the frozen soil and heavy snow can potentially rip their hanging hooks out of the eaves.

Check soil in planters housing evergreen plants or dormant plants throughout winter for dryness. Water as needed, otherwise plants may suffer from dehydration or winter burning.

Overwintering Container Plants

In the past, few people could afford large, valuable container plants. They built splendid orangeries for their palms, lemon trees, oleander, and bay bushes. Plants from warm climates survived the frost in an overwintering house. These days, anyone can afford this service, without so much as needing a winter garden. Instead, the plants can overwinter with professionals.

Frost damage isn’t a given

Mediterranean and exotic plants provide a vacation ambiance on the terrace in spring and summer at the front of the house or in the garden. An increasing number of business establishments are creating an atmosphere at their doorstep or in the company garden with container plants – the larger the specimen, the more pronounced its effect. And the more frustrating it is when the plants ail in winter and either get a weak start in the new season or succumb to the frost altogether.

Full care in a greenhouse isn’t expensive

Help is available in the form of a professional overwintering service. By request, the largest plants can be picked up. Upon arrival at their new quarters, they’ll be inspected for pests, then placed in the right location for their needs, watered regularly, and tended. The pros will even report the plants and fertilize them. Once winter has passed, the plants are returned, healthy and ready to usher in the new season with robust growth. Owners will be delighted with the kickstart.
Overwintering with full care is always calculated as a fixed price, usually determined by the size of the plant. Ask area gardeners for information on overwintering services.

A frost-free cellar suffices for plants that drop leaves

Some frost-sensitive plants can be overwintered at home. Those that undergo a period of slow growth over the winter and drop their leaves, such as Solanum, angel’s trumpets (Brugmansia), and lily of the Nile (Agapanthus), will do fine in a dark cellar or frost-free garage. A warm basement or heated stairwell that reaches more than 45 degrees is not suitable the plants will bud too early and be weakened. Winter gardens are also not cool enough for many plants, particularly when the greenhouse warms significantly in the sun.