getting rid of OLEANDER

topic posted Tue, March 13, 2007 - 7:01 AM by  skywyn
Hi everyone I am new to this tribe, and have just bought a home in north texas. unfortunatly the only thing shading our back deck from the road is a BIG oleander bush.

We have a little one who is just crawling, and the bush must go.

I am from up north ( temperate rain forest) so I am new to hot weather gardening, and practicly no seasons.

I have no experiance with oleander at all except I know they are very poisonous.

any suggestions of how to completely remove the bush and roots,

Also any ideas of what to replace it with ? something pretty, and fast growing that will survive this crazy texas heat.
posted by:
  • Unsu...
    honestly, i think you are moving too fast. If you were moving to the same bioregion maybe you could pull off making changes soon after leaving (maybe.)

    Since this is a whole new ecology for you, why don't you wait a year before you start eradicating things?
    • Jordan, to let you know, oleander is toxic and many MANY deaths have been directly related to ingestion of leaves, ingestion of hot dogs and marshmallows roasted on the stems, and inhalation of the smoke when burned. Therefore, given that they have a young child of the "taste everything" stage, I think they are making a well-informed decision to eradicate this deadly plant from their yard. They also will save a lot of money because they will no longer have to worry about replacing their pipes after the next drought.
  • Oh I hate to say it, especially in this forum, but Round-Up is going to be your best friend.

    Firstly, we walked the entire perimeter of our house and chopped down all the bushes to the trunks. Then we sprayed them with Round-Up. Later, we came back and began chopping them to bits. It took us almost a year to get rid of our oleanders. Their root systems are great for highways because they can travel a loooooooooooooooooong distance for water. At your house though, all they have to do is find the nearest water pipe and crack it open. It's time consuming and expensive if you pay someone else to do it. I suggest making it your normal weekend routine for awhile and buy a big bottle of Round-Up. You have to spray it directly on the trunks though, don't get it on the surrounding vegetation because it kills everything. Get yourself a good axe and stretch out before every chopping session.

    Good luck, and I feel your pain. Been there, done that! By the way, I am going to be in Commerce, TX next week at the University, how close to there are you?
    • Hi wendy thanks for your input, I am afraid of that kind of answer. why couldnt it be an easy fix?

      We are outside denton, close to lake lewisville, but we wont be moving into our house for 2 more weeks.

      I used to be pretty good with chopping wood, a little rusty right now though. I guess chopping is in my future.

      I have heard that the sap of oleander is one of the most poisonous parts, should I be worried about spreading it around to the surrounding earth while hacking about?

      I have so much to learn!
      • You basically don't want to allow your little one near it during the kill phase.

        Every single part of the plant can kill you, every single little bitty bit. If you didn't have a child and had reinforced water pipes, I would say leave them, because they smell very nice. BUT, you do have a child and aroma can't factor into it. We waited to start chopping ours to the roots after the Round-Up was applied and allowed to do its job. It is much easier working with dead and dessicated than live and rubbery green. There are so many trees, native trees, you can buy ready made for under $100 that will take about 3-5 years to show really nice potential. As with all good landscaping, it will take time, and there is no easy fix. TV shows always make me laugh when they plant these gorgeous gardens over the weekend. I want them to do some follow-ups after three weeks and see how pretty everything is then when the plants are just getting over their move stress and are limp, thin, and discolored. Good landscaping takes time. Not just time to plant, but time for plants to settle in and mature. Some of the most beautiful landscaping I have every seen didn't look "beautiful" for about 5 years.

        I will be up in Commerce taking a prescribed fire and fire safety course. I am not sure if I will get the wildland fires course as part of the package, but that would be nice. Fire is my new best friend. My current research is arthropod and vegetative response to various mechanical brush control measures after fire. So far, the ground is greeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!

          This is the website of one our greatest Texas ladies, Mrs. Ladybird Johnson. I highly recommend it for flowers.
          • Hey, I live in Denton - welcome to the neighborhood.

            About Round Up - I'm all about organic, and hate using chemicals of any sort, but sometimes it's your only option. With a plant as incredibly toxic as Oleander, especially in conjunction with little ones, I'd definitely say it's necessary. As far as your choices for replacing it with something native go, I'd recommend any of the following:

            Yaupon (Ilex vomitoria)
            Texas Persimmion (Diospyros texana)
            Cenizo (Leucophylum frutescens)
            Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora)
            Wisteria (Wisteria macrostachya) - vine, but mounds up nicely when it doesn't have anything to climb on

            Or if you'd like a larger tree for next to nothing and aren't bothered by allergies, just go score a cedar. They grow everywhere, and nobody will mind at all if you go find one you like in a pasture and take it home with you - if anybody sees you they'll just be happy you're getting rid of it. If you don't have a truck you can rent one at Home Depot, and if you need labor you can get some Mexicans from the spot on the corner of Ft. Worth drive and Collins in Denton. Right now isn't the best time to transplant them, but if you choose a smallish one and dig up enough of a root ball it should survive. Just make sure that you don't leave a big ass hole that a cow could break a leg in.

            Anyway, good luck with the Oleander. They're one of the few plants I really despise, and I don't get how people can accept having such a dangerous plant around. Let us know how it goes.

              For a list of native nurseries in the DFW area.

              Mountain Laurel is AWESOME!!!!!!!! And it smells heavenly when blooming. I hate to tell you this, but it's pricey and hard to maintain unless you get a larger tree. I started 100 seeds and had 40 survive. Out of that, I kept 3 for myself and sold the rest. I have recently transplanted those three into large planters and pray every day because they are doing very badly. I don't know what's wrong because I have never had plants die on me, but at this point I may be looking at four years worth of hard work down the drain.
              • I don't have any experience with Mt. Laurel from seed - only larger saplings. What does it like/dislike when it's that small? If there's a market for it, I wouldn't mind raising some.
                • If you could mass produce Mt. Laurel there would definately be good money in it. My plants are 13 inches tall now and I planted them four years ago. They are struggling, so I don't know, I am going to have to call in the big guns on this one, and thank goodness I work with some of the best in the world right here at my university.
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    Wow, that would make it a pretty long term project. What's the average rate of growth? I see them in nurseries from time to time and they aren't outrageously expensive, so there must be some way to speed the process up a but.

                    Definitely keep us posted - I'd love to know more about this.
            • thanks for the welcome dr z !

              So far I have chopped the bush, 8 bags worth, and I hate to do it but I think I am going to roundup it.

              how do you think this will all affect a garden in close proximity, 5 to 10 ft from where the oleander was?

              Starting next season?

                Tests have shown that Roundup, when used according to label directions, has no weed killing activity once in contact with the soil. Glyphosate will not move in or on the soil to affect non-target vegetation, and it does not move through the soil to enter other non-target plants by the root system. Glyphosate is only effective when it comes into contact with the green, growing parts of plants. Other tests have shown that Glyphosate binds tightly to most soil particles until it is degraded. This means that the likelihood of Roundup harming nearby plants is negligible, and there is an extremely low potential for Glyphosate to move into groundwater.

                Also read the following in its entirety:
              • You might also want to read sources other than the chemical manufacturer's own propaganda:


                You can minimize the harm from chemical products if you decide to use them by drilling holes in the stump and pouring the herbicide directly into the holes. Use a brush to paint any leaves that may appear.

                For environmentally friendly removal, if that's what you're interested and don't mind the extra cost:


                "Removal tips

                Use a chain saw, backhoe and stump grinder.

                Hire a certified arborist or certified tree workers or rent the tools.

                Professional estimates will depend on the size and location of the plant, and may or may not include foliage removal, chipping and cleanup. Expect to pay up to $25 per foot for removal of a mature shrub.

                To have a professional grind out the stump, which can grow two feet below the ground, expect to pay $2.50 to $4 per diameter inch.

                Do it yourself with a stump grinder. Rent at Home Depot for $79 a day. "
  • How big is the bush? Can you not just dig up the root ball? I don't believe a new bush will grow from the smaller roots left in the ground.

    I don't know if this helps any, but oleander was all over where I grew up... as children we were simply just taught it would kill us if we ate it. Amazingly enough, I don't know a single person or child that ever died from eating it.

    • People die in the US every year from oleander, and now some herbal companies are selling oleander as a medicinal and since its not controlled by the FDA, who knows what kind of side effects will occur.
      • Deaths from oleander poisoning are rare. You have a better chance of dying on the highway in a car accident. Should we outlaw cars? Stay home just in case we might be involved in an accident?

        The plant has been used medicinally for thousands of years. As with any plant used medicinally, the person taking it needs to do their homework before they use it.

        Frankly, I don't want to live in a nanny state where some govt branch controls everything on the auspice of my safety.

        Again, I grew up with the plant all over the area where I lived. Never heard of a death attributed to oleander. Many people have poisonous houseplants, but have you heard of any dieffenbachia-related deaths lately?

        Same as you teach your kids to look both ways before crossing a street, teach 'em not to eat plants that could be poisonous.
      • Oh yeah, btw, mountain laurel is poisonous.

        Mountain laurel is a very poisonous narcotic plant the leaves of which were at one time used by some native North American Indian tribes in order to commit suicide[4]. Because of its toxicity, it is a remedy that is seldom used in modern herbalism[238], but the leaves have been used externally in herbal medicine and are a good remedy for many skin diseases and inflammation[4].

        [sarcasm]Good choice as a replacement [/sarcasm]
        • Ah, I got a bit snarky and didn't read the whole mountain laurel exchange. The mountain laurel I referred to is a different plant. However, the seeds to the TX mountain laurel are poisonous as well.
          • While the seeds of Texas Mt. Laurel (sophora secundiflora) do contain cytisine, a toxic alkaloid similar in action to nicotine, it is nowhere nearly as dangerous as Oleander. Every kid learns from a very young age that bright red berries are not to be eaten under any circumstance, while the entire Oleander plant can kill. Sophora is also only toxic for part of the year. While I agree that Oleander hasn't been the cause of many deaths, I haven't heard of anyone dying from Sophora.

            Just my $.02.
            • If the kids can learn not to eat the bright red berries, don't you think they can learn not to eat any part of the oleander bush?

              Look, I'm not saying she should keep the oleander, but over-exaggerating how many deaths have occurred from it as Wendy is doing doesn't really do any good either. Yes, a leaf can kill a baby, but who is going to leave their baby alone outside next to the bush?

              The "weenie roast" incident is complete fiction:

              There are lots of plants with poisonous parts. Educate yourself, and your children and the children should be fine.
              • First off Judy, control yourself why don't you.

                Oleander is an introduced plant, doesn't belong here, needs to be removed. Period.

                No one that I recall said anything about passing laws against oleander and if they did I missed it. Get off your high horse. If the woman doesn't want a deadly, exotic, hardy, non-native, hard to kill, foreign plant in her yard, then she has every right to get rid of it. Deal with it.


                Common oleander contains a strychnine-like toxin, and a heart-active cardiac glycoside substance (similar to the prescription drug digoxin) that may cause the heart to beat rapidly, abnormally, or to stop beating. Common oleander has been used as rat poison, insecticide and fish poison, and is toxic to mammals including humans. Animals (sheep) have died after eating as little as two to three leaves of Nerium oleander (common oleander). Children may die after eating a single leaf of common oleander. Eating the leaves, flowers or bark of common oleander may cause nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and pain, fatigue, drowsiness, unsteadiness, bloody diarrhea, abnormal heart rhythms, seizures, liver or kidney damage, or unconsciousness. Death may occur within one day. Reports of toxicity and deaths in children and adults have been reported for decades in Australia, India, Sri Lanka and the United States.

                Fruits of Thevetin peruviana (yellow oleander) are thought to be even more toxic to mammals, including humans. Based on human studies of intentional overdose (suicide attempts), eating eight or more seeds of yellow oleander may be fatal. Additional side effects of oleander ingestion include irritation and redness of lips, gums, tongue, nausea, vomiting, depression, irritability, fast breathing, sweating, stomach pain, diarrhea, headache, confusion, visual disturbances, and constricted pupils. Abnormal blood tests, including tests of liver and kidney function (potassium, bilirubin, creatinine, and blood urea) have been reported in humans.

                It is possible that plants grown in the same soil as oleander plants or in soil exposed to oleander may contain trace amounts of oleander.
                • Wow Cindy, tell people what to do much?

                  Nurseries sell oleander. People buy them and plant them. It's legal. They also sell banana plants that aren't native, but I don't see you hollaring about those. LOTS of plants are "introduced." It comes along with a global economy, ya know?

                  You don't have to explain oleander to me. I probably know more about it than you do. In fact, I'm fairly certain of that.

                  Read my post again and this time try using a little reading comprehension on the part where I said I'm not telling her to keep the plant.

                  Oleander is being looked at as an alternative treatment for cancer, but hey, let's not see if there's anything to that before we erradicate the world of it.

                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    Dude, are you high? This woman is asking for help to get rid of it from her yard, not from the state, the country, the world. I never said it needed to be illegal, and if anyone else did, I missed it. For a Neo-Hippy like yourself I would figure you would be FOR protecting the environment, not FOR continuing to alter it for the worse.
                    • "MANY deaths have been directly related to ingestion of leaves, ingestion of hot dogs and marshmallows roasted on the stems, and inhalation of the smoke when burned. "


                      Was there ever such an ill-fated family or troop of Boy Scouts? Though we've searched for news stories about such a tragedy, we haven't found any, not even an account of a non-fatal poisoning. Death by oleander is rare to begin with, and the cases we've located so far involved direct ingestion of the plant.

                      Your claims in regards to that are fiction. Inhaling the smoke might make you sick, but there are no accounts of fatalities from it.

                      Now, please go find me a list of these "many" confirmed and reliable accounts of people dying from oleander poisoning. Ten to 1 you can't because it's THAT RARE.

                      "and since its not controlled by the FDA"

                      Did I mistakenly read that to mean that you believe it should be regulated by the FDA?

                      The most sensible advice can be found here:

                      Btw, I'm not a hippy, but since you seem to be mistaken about other things, I can see where you would be confused about that, too.
                      • "Btw, I'm not a hippy, but since you seem to be mistaken about other things, I can see where you would be confused about that, too."

                        What? You're into psy and list BRC as your hometown, but say you're not a hippy? All us trancer/burner types are neo-hippies whether we admit it or not. Seriously! :)

                        You make it out to any of the Vortex or T.O.U.C.H. parties there in MS?
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    Who is Cindy?

                    Anyway, there are plenty of things that come along with a global economy that aren't good for the local environment. Invasive, non-native plants are one of them. Even non-toxic invasive plants like Nandina aren't healthy when they are introduced into places they don't belong. Nature has a pretty good idea about what she's doing, and if these plant species were meant to be here, they would be already.

                    Nobody is saying that Oleander should be wiped off the face of the planet, but it should be restricted to areas in which it grows naturally, and even then it's not a good idea to keep it around any area where toddlers are present. Teaching pre-verbal children not to touch a bright red berry is different from teaching them not to touch one particular type of green leaf. I want my daughter to explore and interact with the world around her as much as possible, not to be afraid that mommy and daddy will get mad at her anytime she tries to touch something.

                    Plants aside, getting all aggressive and insulting people on an online message board might not be the best way to get your point across. You catch more flies with honey is all I'm saying. :)
                    • Asking someone to reread a post with a little applied comprehension is NOT insulting them.

                      Both of you should start over with the posts and reread them again. You're both over-reacting.

                      Teaching a child not to touch a berry is no different than teaching them not to touch a hot stove, eat bugs or eat oleander. If you are letting a pre-verbal child "explore" unsupervised around an oleander (or anything for that matter) then you're asking for trouble.

                      • I guess it's a matter of your personal point of view. From where I'm standing you come across as bitchy and overbearing, though I'm sure you don't see it that way. I'm not even going to guess what you think of me.

                        Sigh... The internet really fails when it comes to interpersonal communication. Maybe those "clean slate" guys are right.

                        "If you are letting a pre-verbal child "explore" unsupervised around an oleander (or anything for that matter) then you're asking for trouble."

                        Which is precisely the point of this whole damn thread - it's unsafe to have an Oleander bordering a patio where a toddler will be spending a lot of time. I don't know if you have kids, Judy, but I know my daughter will bolt out the back door as soon as I look away, and she's always putting stuff in her mouth before I have a chance to stop her. At least with Sophora most of the seeds are out of reach, and the ones that do hit the ground are in a protective pod and can be cleaned up easily. All these factors make Sophora MUCH safer to have around a young child than Oleander.

                        Why are we still arguing about this?
                        • Interesting. From where I'm standing, Wendy comes across as bitchy and overbearing. You I really don't have an issue with except it seems we're miscommunicating. I do like your avatar......

                          I am not disagreeing with anyone on removing the plant from Skywyn's yard... not now or in any of my posts. I'm just saying that the reports of deaths from from oleander are waaaay over-exaggerated (and that is a fact) in this thread and that thousands, if not millions, of children over the last several thousand years have grown up with them in their vicinity and 99.9% haven't died because their parents taught them not to eat it.

                          Oleander was naturalized in the Gulf Coast region with the settling of European immigrants.... it's been naturalized there a very long time even if it's not native. I guess you know Galveston is known as Oleander City, is the city's official flower, and is home to more varieties than any other place in the world, right?

                          I presented facts. That's all. I try to be very reasonable and candid with my responses. Yes, I got snarky and I caught myself. I did not, however, tell you or Ms. Drama to "get off your high horse" or "control yourself why don't you" or ask if you were high.


                          As for the neo-hippie label, I just don't like the association the word "hippie" has to it. ;o) And no, I have not gone to any Burner shindigs in MS. I haven't lived there for over 10 years though I visit fairly often as my family still lives there. We'll likely try to make Transformus in Asheville, though. Be a good dry run before BM.
                          • "Turn off, tune in, and drop out" is the hippie whilst
                            "nature is our Goddess, Burning Man is art, and drugs bring you closer to Divinty" is the typical neo-hippy. If you think the label is wrong, then you should think about how non Goddess-worshippers, non-Burning Man (with all the naked people as art), and non-drug users see you. If you don't use drugs, then you are rare amongst the BM types that I have met so far. Those hundreds I have met typically believe pot is not a drug, and LSD is the perfect way to free your mind to recieve "God". If you think neo-hippy is a negative stereotype, then don't live up to it. I have nothing against neo-hippies themselves, just when they act contrary to their stated purposes and/or beliefs. This goes for all religious, pseudoreligious beliefs. As for my attitude, you ruined a perfectly good conversation with your rudeness when you first came in and I find it very hard to listen to anything you have to say from here on. Calling me Cindy was even more rude and caused me to think you must have been smoking something to have misread the name Wendy. Honestly Judy, if you want to enter into an existing conversation and be listened to, if not agreed with, don't come in being a jerk.
                            • Unsu...
                              Get a backhoe or a shovel and dig the plants up. Cut back any sprouts coming off roots that appear over the next couple of years. Plant somthing you like that is hopfully indiginous. Mesquite is my favorite, the beens make great flour for pancakes or biscuits.
                            • Wendy,

                              You know, I have read posts from you in other forums - not because I sought them out, I just happened to be reading threads and saw you had posted in them - and in almost ALL of them you are confrontational and rude to other posters. Let me tell you something about labeling people - it's a form of bigotry and judgment. I don't believe for a minute that you have gotten to "know" hundreds well enough to do more than generalize to your own comfort zone. You certainly don't know me or where I've been or what I've done in my lifetime, but if it makes you feel better about your own life to label me a neo-hippie, then go right ahead. You may think you are being brutally honest, but you seem to enjoy the brutality much more than the honesty. You also seem pretty bigotted towards others based on their opinions and beliefs. I can't for the life of me figure out why you even chose to be on Tribe if you detest people who are unlike you as much as you seem to. You might want to go back and revisit Matthew 7:1 and reflect on the meaning of it while you're passing judgment on other people. You might also want to check into a little diplomacy training if you're planning on going into the Peace Corps. Something tells me you'd be the first one they would want to vote off the island.

                              This is an open forum. I am a member of this forum. I can enter and post in any thread I choose to post in, "existing conversation" or not. You have no control over that and might I be so bold as to suggest that you just ignore comments you don't agree with if you can't be civil.

                              I ruined no conversation. I added my thoughts which were not contrary to anything in the thread, just an observation. For some reason, you seem to have taken offense to that. You've also repeatedly barked out orders and insults that are completely uncalled for and are unrelated to the subject. They are are simply ad hominem attacks that tell me you really don't have anything worthy to debate.

                              Take your own advice and quit being a jerk yourself.
                              • As this will be my final post to you Judy I will make it quick.

                                If you have read my posts on Heated Debate or CoR then you should also read why I responded the way I did. Those people have blamed me for all the world's ills, blamed me for murders in the name of God, blamed me for backstreet abortionists, blamed me for anyone being treated poorly, blamed me for racism and homophobia, and blamed me for life in general. I get sick of people like you who act all holier than thou and then get upset when you get called on it. I get sick of people like you, yes, like you, who say stupid things like you do and use the excuse that you are simply voicing your opinion, when in fact, you were jumping down her throat and implying she lacked the proper parental skills necessary to raise her children. You are simply a jerk, and you try to pass yourself off as being free and open with your dialog. Try again.

                                This topic is about eradicating an introduced, toxic plant from her yard. Get back to it.
                                • You have issues, Wendy. Maybe you should look into counseling. Apparently your church isn't helping.

                                  However, if you enjoy making yourself look like an ass on a public forum, please continue.
                                  • Wow. Pot smoking might not be a bad idea. giggle.

                                    Skywyn, if you're still here, I haven't the foggiest about oleander, as we don't have the pleasure of being able to grow it here. That being said, if you do go with the option of pouring or spraying something on the plant to be rid of it, amongst all the other good advice, please consider the permaculture way. One of permaculture's ethics is to take care of the plants and land around us with the health of those plants and land and ourselves. Permit me, please to make note that roundup is not a permaculture product. I have stopped using it, not because of it's toxic properties (I've read sources that disagree with one another on this one) but because of the company's (monsanto) attempt to gain too much power over key food source crops all over the world. They've gone after canola, soy bean, rice, and corn. There have been law suits against farmers for collecting seed (need I say anything about this??) that they (monsanto) claims to be their's genetically (eek). There are reports of bees gone missing (70% in Europe...again, eeek!) and the thoughts are that it's at least in part due to gmo seed.

                                    There is some concern over what you're using that will leave a residue. Perhaps just as harmful as the leaves themselves, but more likely to permiate into your child's system due to proximity to the soil in which it was put, or the grass on which is was sprayed.

                                    If there are any other sprays that are less offensive, I'm sorry I can't give you any names. I simply opted to work a little harder and ignore some stuff that would bother others.

                                    Hope you find solutions that suit your needs.

                                    • um. 'scuse me. I meant to say that the residues COULD be harmful (but not so much as the oleander seems to be)
                                      • Unsu...
                                        Haven't you people had enough negativity for one week?
                                        • I think I've reached my quota, c. If I had known I was going to reap such a nasty response, I wouldn't have posted in the first place. First time I've encountered such on Tribe..... ;o)
                                          • I lurk here quite often, but don't post too much. I just have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this thread, as I think it represents the best (or worst) of tribe, and the internet in general. All the original poster wanted was a simple solution to removing oleander. That has led into shouting matches, pointing fingers, child rearing techniques, religious screed, thoughts on alternatives to oleander, urban legends, and finally, a few posts up, a straighforward suggestion to get a backhoe. Isn't the internet wonderful!
                                            • For your edification Doug, this was the second response to her reply and the first response to actually give a control method suggestion:

                                              "Firstly, we walked the entire perimeter of our house and chopped down all the bushes to the trunks. Then we sprayed them with Round-Up. Later, we came back and began chopping them to bits. It took us almost a year to get rid of our oleanders. Their root systems are great for highways because they can travel a loooooooooooooooooong distance for water. At your house though, all they have to do is find the nearest water pipe and crack it open. It's time consuming and expensive if you pay someone else to do it. I suggest making it your normal weekend routine for awhile and buy a big bottle of Round-Up. You have to spray it directly on the trunks though, don't get it on the surrounding vegetation because it kills everything. Get yourself a good axe and stretch out before every chopping session."