OVERWINTERING OLEANDERS OUTDOORS                                                                                 DOCUMENTATION

 

Early October 2015

OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors


 

The bush in the open meadow

 

It’s the beginning of October. There are hardly any blossoms left on the bush out in the meadow. It will probably be another two months before the protective walls need to be set up. In the meantime, the bush can harden off and become accustomed to cooler temperatures.  


OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors
OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors

Oleanders in the garden area               The  bushes along the south wall in the garden area have developed very well – dense foliage all the way to the ground. After having been totally cut down early in the spring, they couldn’t  bloom yet, even in the summer. Now, however, a few blossoms are  visible – actually, the first ones for this year. Next year there should be a sea of flowers!

OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors
OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors

Oleanders  in front of the main house

The bushes were cut back severely at the end of the previous year; now they are just as big! The protective house must be correspondingly large this year. 



Mid-August 2015

OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors

 

 

 

Meanwhile, it’s the middle of August, and the little bush out in the field has become a nice-looking shrub. Over the summer, the walls of the protective house were removed, leaving only a roof for protection; a pavilion which already appears to be almost too small . . .



A comparison over three years

OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors

February 2013

OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors

February 2014

OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors

February 2015



Like early spring

Oleander Haus, OLEANDERS OUTDOORS, Like early spring, The weather is actually mild

 

 

The weather is actually mild; during the day, a little above freezing, during the night, a bit below. The bush in the meadow is protected from the wind; during the night, only the light bulb is turned on. 

Rainy weather alternates with sunny days,  When the sun shines, ventilation is necessary, otherwise it gets too hot in the “protective house”. 



End of January

OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors

 

 

 

 

It's the end of January. Although there is still snow on the ground, there hasn't been much snow this year. The temperatures are not extreme either - rather average. The coldest period was in late December.



The pavilion is ready

OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors
OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors

The pavilion is ready, including the doors – the only thing missing now is the seal down to the ground. The oleander bush is in good shape. During the winter, the pavilion is a little house; in the spring, especially when there is no longer a threat of nighttime frost, the walls of the pavilion can easily be removed and put away until the following winter. Only the roof remains, and it will protect the blossoms from rain during the summer. 

The little house will become the “Showpiece Oleander Pavilion”, and the bush the “Showpiece Oleander Bush”. 

The bushes have stood there since Spring 2011; this year will be the fourth winter for the oleanders planted in the ground!


Construction continues

OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors
OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors

The weather is a little milder again; during the day it’s slightly above freezing, during the night just a few degrees below. The pavilion is making progress; the roof and walls are made of insulating hollow-chambered plates. 


Oleanders in the snow  

OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors
OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors
OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors

 

It has snowed and gotten cold – down to -8 C (+ 17 F) during the night. The oleanders by the wall of the house are still unprotected; they’ll get some protection in the next few days. We’ll see if they come through without any damage. 

The bush in the open meadow, at any rate, has been well-packed. As a simple heat source for the cold nights, there is a 40-watt light bulb. Meanwhile, the “house construction” has gotten interrupted for a few days.



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A pavilion

OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors
OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors

This year, the free-standing oleander bush is finally going to get a solid pavilion in order to be able to survive the winter well. The framework is already up; the roof is in the process of mounted.


December already 

OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors
OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors

It’s already December 10th and up until now, we’ve only had a few short nighttime frosts. Many of the oleanders still haven’t been moved indoors; the permanently-planted bushes still don’t have a roof. Only the bush in the open meadow has received a temporary, makeshift wrapping. The weather is supposed to continue to remain frost-free, so the protective houses can be constructed during the next few days. 

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Still under the open sky

OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors
OLEANDER HAUS, Nerium oleander, overwintering oleanders outdoors

So far, the weather has continued to be mild to warm, or just rainy. There hasn’t been a freeze yet; the bushes are still out in the open as they were before. No frosts are predicted for the short term.

 

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Looking good

 

 

The bush in the open meadow looks very beautiful and makes a good impression.  There weren’t very many flowers this year – it was a rainy summer.  However, the foliage is even nicer as a result.


The two bushes on the south side of the house, to the left nad right of the unused entrance, have grown fast and are larger than they have ever been; if one compares them with the pictures from a year ago . . .

 

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A drawing is made of the bush 

 

 

The oleander bush in the open meadow poses for its portrait.

more . . .

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The first blossoms 


After all this time – the first blossoms are here! In the open field and on the south side of the house – in both cases, it is Splendens Giganteum. 

 

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Lush and green in May 


In the case of the oleander bush planted out in the meadow: there is splendid new green growth, the flower clusters are already large, and some of the blossoms will open during the next few days. The tent of plastic sheeting is still covering it, certainly; it’s very simple, on a sunny day it gets so warm inside that it naturally  needs to be opened; during the night, the bush is protected. Once the "Eisheiligen"  (the ice–saints’ days, i.e. the last possible frost dates) have passed, then the tent can be removed.   


 

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Spring 

Spring suddenly arrived a week ago, as you can clearly see. During the day, the weather is warm and sunny, usually over 15 c (60 F) – it’s even reached 20 C (70 F) already. During the night, the temperature no longer dips down to 0 C (32 F), rather, it is between 5 and 10 C (40 and 50 F). It’s supposed to stay about the same in the near future.  


The oleanders which were planted outside have survived the winter in optimal condition. On the left, the bush in the open field; on the right, one of the shrubs next to the wall of the house. Nothing frozen, nothing dried out, nothing that needs to be pruned out. However, it was a mild and rather short winter this year. The inner little plastic-sheet house (left) and the inner plastic protective sheet (right) have already been removed. If it should get cold once more for a short period, simple protection should suffice.  

. . . Our joy is great! 

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Again, a lot of water 

As in the previous year, the melting snow and a lot of rain has flooded the meadow with water. It has been like this for a week already, but it should be better soon. Of course, the roots of the oleander bush are sitting in water. But generally speaking, we can already say that winter this year – at least so far – has not been so cold and snowy. 

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Winter arrives

Since January 24, it’s been winter; there’s snow on the ground – during the day the temperature has been around 0 C (32 F) or slightly below. During the night it has gone as low as -8 C (-17 F).


The new year, 2014

Oleanders in the yard and on the front side of the main house


Up until now, it has been warm and the weather has been nice, that is, temperatures well above the minus range, even during the night – one still can’t call this winter. In fact, it’s supposed to get even warmer.  

When the sun is shining and the air is balmy, the plants are ventilated.

 

 

 

Oleanders planted outdoors 

 

The oleander bush in the open field has gotten its second, inner little house; the frost guard has been installed as well – we are prepared.  

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Preparation for overwintering 

 

Oleanders in the yard

 

It’s the beginning of December; the plastic sheeting house has been put up again.  

The weather report is predicting the first below-freezing temperatures at night.


Oleanders along the front side of the main house 

The bushes are larger than they were a year ago – correspondingly, their protective shelters are also larger this year.

 

 

Oleanders planted out in the meadow

 

The oleander bush in the open field has gotten its new house. This year, it’s not a tent any more – it looks much more like a little house. For the time being, it is only a simple house made of plastic sheeting – naturally, that is not enough. In the next few days, there will be a second, inner house, in which a frost monitor will be installed as well. 

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It’s here again

It’s here again.


For the oleanders planted outside, the third winter is at the door. 

  

The oleander planted in the meadow. 


The framework for its tent is already standing. This year it looks a little different – improved, so that if there’s a lot of snow, it won’t be bearing as much weight.


The two bushes (front wall of the main house) bloomed beautifully during the summer and have also grown considerably. 

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A comparison 

This is what our weather and climate look like. 


A photo from January and one from August. 


A photo from the beginning of March and one from August. 

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The unveiling


In the open meadow, in the problematic location, it’s time to remove the plastic tent. The bush appears beautiful and vigorous.

Now, it is important to note: 

The bush (2 bushes) were planted outdoors in 2011. 

In the winter of 2011/2012, covered only by a plastic tent, they got completely frozen. 

In 2012, they sprouted anew from the rootstock (only beginning in June) and grew to the size documented. The second overwintering followed, this time with better protection and a frost monitor. 

Remember: A long, cold winter (this year, very long) and an additional three weeks in the meadow flooded by cold water!

The pruned bush, with new foliage, is now nicer-looking than it was when it went into its winter rest period toward the end of November in the previous year.

In June of the previous year, that is, one year ago, there was absolutely nothing of it left to see . . . 

 

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The first blossoms / 2 

 

Marie Gambetta is the first yellow oleander blossom. It appeared on May 11, 2013. Marie Gambetta was not planted outside – it is just in a pot along the south-facing wall of the outbuilding in the yard, in the plastic-sheeting house. The blossom is, as are all the others to date, on an inflorescence from the previous year which had wintered over. 

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The first blossoms

 

The new blooming season was started off on May 5, 2013, by Grandiflorum. It is indeed not planted outdoors, but rather is still in the plastic-sheeting shelter.  It isn’t particularly distinctive, either – but even so, it’s the first oleander flower this year. 

 

The second oleander to bloom (on May 5, 2013) was Splendens Giganteum. Indeed, it is still protected by the plastic-sheeting house, but is not in a pot. Rather, it is beginning its second season planted directly in the ground. 

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Spring is here / The moment of truth… 

Oleander im Hofbereich

 

Five months ago, on November 17, 2012, the experiment with the oleanders permanently planted outdoors was begun. We can now say: 

The experiment was a success. 

The first inflorescences are showing definite growth and are turning reddish – here,  Splendens Giganteum.



Oleanders on the front side of the main house 


After cleaning up and removing the dried leaves, the branches look fresh and alive again. The bush on the left, which is located in the sheltered corner of the house, naturally looks nicer. Next winter, I will protect the bushes better – especially the one on the right.  

The large protective plastic sheets have also been removed already; the oleanders in this location will now be exposed to the elements.  

Permanently planted in the ground, without pots, over two summers and two winters.

(Admittedly with some setbacks as well, as described).


Oleanders planted out in the open field 

Even here in this problematic location: After pruning and removing dry leaves and those which were damaged by frost, the little bush looks quite normal again – there are even a lot of new little sprouts in the leaf axils. I will leave the large plastic tent standing until the last possible frost dates.  

      Experiment successful! 

By next winter, the bush will be larger than last year. We have a two-month head start this year, because last year everything was completely frozen and not until June did the bush start sprouting again from the rootstock; besides, this year we are not starting back at square one – we already have a bush with undamaged wood and with green foliage retained.

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It’s getting warmer

Oleanders in the yard

 

 

It appears that winter is over. As predicted in the weather forecast, it has really gotten warmer. It’s mild during the day and not going below freezing at night. Everything is OK in the plastic-sheeting house along the south wall in the yard. Larger oleanders in pots have already been placed under the arcade; small potted oleanders have now been moved in here so that they can receive a lot of light and warmth.


Oleanders on the front side of the main house


The inner protective sheeting has already been removed; I will leave just the large plastic sheets in place for a few more days. On the whole, the oleander on the left looks good. The bush on the right, admittedly, has taken a bit of a beating.  Clearly, it sometimes got too cold around the drafty corner of the house; some leaves were damaged by frost and are now dried out. The wood of the twigs is OK.


Oleander planted out in the open


The oleander bush in the open meadow under the worst conditions. In addition to the unprotected location, the roots have been standing in water for four weeks now! It has also incurred frost damage; a lot of leaves are dry and withered – but only leaves – not the canes. The little frost monitor was not sufficient or was set too low. The inner plastic sheets and the cardboard have been removed; the plastic tent will remain standing for a while.

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No spring yet 

The photo was taken on March 26. Snow, sleet, and rain. Little sunshine and  temperatures still below freezing. Nothing has changed as far as the weather goes, and the forecast is also bad into the second week of April. They’re talking about a weather anomaly; farms, orchards, and nurseries are suffering – everything is a month late already!

 


And our oleanders…? When temperatures are above freezing and the sun shines a bit, they are checked on and aired out. After next week I will remove the inner sheeting of the protective tents – ventilation then becomes easier. And I need to begin moving them out of their winter quarters; first just the large plants – protected under the arcade, etc. In mid-April, most of them will have to be outside and then their condition can be well-documented also.

 

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Still winter and melting snow


It seemed – barely – that spring was about to creep in, and then it was all over again. Cold, more snow, tentative above-freezing temperatures during the day and rain as well. In this location in the meadow, the oleanders are standing with their roots still in the water. . .

 

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Winter and melting snow


Up until a few days ago, more snow fell and it started to pile up.

It’s the beginning of March, temperatures are above freezing during the day – the thaw has begun. The melting snow has left this part of the meadow under water. The oleanders are standing with their roots in the water; this condition will certainly last two or three weeks. If it should rain heavily a couple of times, it will last even longer.

 

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Winter


Since January 12, it has truly been deep winter. First came the snow; then it got cold – again temperatures were as low as -14/-15 C (5 -7 F) for several nights.  

On January 26, the temperature was again above freezing, so I was able to check whether everything was in order.  In one of the enclosures against the wall, the little heating lamp burned out one time (of course, it was late at night and bitterly cold), but it was noticed just in time – the snow was removed, the plastic-sheeted shelter opened, a new bulb screwed in – nothing had happened. The photos of all three locations show that everything is still OK. 


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It’s not really winter yet

 

Since the last entry of December 12, 2012, nothing special has been happening. It The winter weather has been mild to very mild all throughout. Daytime temperatures above freezing, even over 10 C (50 F); nighttime temperatures barely below freezing. The oleanders have been doing well in all three locations; sunshine was predicted and they get ventilated frequently. Now we’re supposed to get a period of true winter weather. It’s supposed to snow a lot.  Daytime temperatures only around 0 C (32 F) and nighttime temperatures below freezing – sometimes down as low as -10 (14 F). Not much can actually be done now; all three locations seem to be sufficiently protected against the forecasted conditions.  Admittedly, this is still not the truly cold dead of winter . . .

 

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The first major cold snap is over

Oleanders in the yard


It was indeed very cold, as low as -15 C (5 F), but for the time being the intense cold seems to have passed. If temperatures are above freezing during the day, the oleanders can get aired out, and if the sun shines as it is doing today, the have to be ventilated with really fresh air, as it gets very warm very quickly, as you can see – The oleanders are doing well.  

It’s December 12; this was just a foretaste of winter, which really can’t properly be called winter until January/February.


Oleanders along the front wall of the main house

 

 

Temperatures are a bit above freezing, therefore some quick ventilation is appropriate; the days are short now. Another reason that it’s important to ventilate as often as possible is that the plastic-sheet shelters sweat on the inside, and the oleanders are standing in air that is too humid – or their foliage may actually become wet. 



Oleanders planted out in the meadow

 

 

 

The tent is now standing in the sun; it is certainly warm inside. The entrance can be opened confidently, and the additional packing material as well.



Tent, inner tent, and packing material have been opened; it’s warm, the oleanders look good, they also appear to feel good. So far, they have withstood the cold well in the unprotected location (with auxiliary heating) – but this is only the beginning of winter; we have a good two and a half months ahead of us. It’s only December 12 . . .

 

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It’s gotten even colder!

Oleanders in the yard

 

Not only does it look like winter, it has really been winter for a few days. The temperature has also dipped down as far as -15 C (5 F). The plastic-sheeting house against the wall is not heated additionally; the sheltered location should be sufficient. 

It’s December 8th.



Oleander Vorderseite Haupthaus

 

 

 

The oleanders next to the wall have been wrapped up; the small heat lamp is on within.



Oleanders planted out in the open field


During the first burst of intense cold the previous year, these oleanders incurred major damage – will we have success this year? We have more insulation this year as well as the convector; but still, it’s -15 c (5 F).

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A hard frost is predicted

Oleanders in the yard


During the next few days, even more severe frost is predicted, and in fact temperatures down to -12 C (10 F).  The oleanders are not under the arcade any longer; older specimens in large pots have joined the ones already in the plastic-sheeting house. A thermometer will serve for checking on their safety. The outside temperature is below freezing. Despite this, just a few tentative rays of sunlight are sufficient to raise the temperature almost to 16 C (61 F) inside this favorable location in the shelter. 


Oleanders along the front wall of the house 

 

 


Since it is supposed to be so cold, further precautions must be taken. Additional plastic sheeting should provide more insulation; besides this, I have installed small heat lamps beside each bush – nothing complicated, small 25-watt incandescent lamps, one for each bush. I can switch them on and off from inside the house.



Oleanders planted out in the open field


protection. Wood shavings on the ground around each bush, a few sheets cardboard on top of them, and over that yet another covering of plastic sheeting, like a tent within a tent – several layers. But the most important thing is an additional source of warmth: a small convector – a frost monitor with a thermostat, which will maintain the temperature in the small space above freezing. Meanwhile, the electric installation is just as much of an experiment as everything else. If it is to work, it must of course be done professionally; as much caution and safety must be exercised as when electrical appliances are being used outdoors. The cable into the house is on its own electrical circuit, which has multiple safeguards.

 

 

The free-standing bushes in the meadow especially will need better This is what the finished “tent within a tent” looks like with the little convector inside. Once the the outer tent is closed, winter can come peacefully.  

It is December 5, 2012.

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A cold period has been predicted 

Oleander im Hofbereich

A plastic-sheeting shelter is being built
A plastic-sheeting shelter is being built

It ‘s supposed to get colder during the next few days, down to -6 C (21 F) also frost during the day and snowfall. Therefore, it’s time to convert the pergola into winter quarters and bring out the plastic sheeting. Who knows how cold it will actually be – it’s November 30th, anyway! 


Oleanders along the front wall of the main house

The oleander in the niche of the house
The oleander in the niche of the house
 The two oleanders by the front wall of the house
The two oleanders by the front wall of the house

The protective sheeting will be applied to the prepared framework. This way, the oleanders will still be easily accessible. The sheeting and framework will be provided with a Velcro closure. 


Oleanders planted out in the open field


The tentlike structure, which had already been used the previous winter, is set up again. The sheeting has been cut to fit a hexagonal pyramid; a Velcro closure will serve for easy access. 

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Experiences to date

Oleanders in the yard

Oleanders in the yard
Oleanders in the yard

I have been overwintering oleanders and other plants along this wall for 20 years, and indeed in makeshift plastic sheeting shelters, built right against the wall, covered only with simple plastic sheeting. It is a south wall, the single large room in the house also serves as an overwintering area for oleanders during the winter and is slightly heated. The wall itself and a large double window thus radiate warmth andsince everything is located in the yard area, it is also sheltered from the wind. When it’s very cold (-10 C to -20 C/  14 F to -4 F), I also cover the pots with sheeting or towels. When the sun is shining, even with temperatures below freezing (e.g. -5 to -8 C / 18 – 23 F), it can be as warm as 20-25 C (68 – 77 F) inside the plastic shelter. In 2011 I began to make the whole thing more permanent, similar to a solarium – this is what you see now – and in winter, it also gets covered again with plastic sheeting. The lowest temperatures recorded along the plastic-sheet wall of the shelter were -5 C (23 F). in the room -1 to -2 C (28 – 30 F), and on the ground near the wall around 0 C (32 F), plus or minus, or above freezing. Nothing has ever frozen in all these years, nor has there been any frost damage. Early in the spring (April 2012) after the removal of the plastic-sheet walls (the roof was left on as protection against rain), I planted oleanders directly in the ground there (Splendens Giganteum, Mont Blanc, Géant des Batailles/Commandant Barthélémy, 160-170 cm/63-67 inches tall, and 12-15 years old) It is November 17; the marigolds in the foreground have already gotten knocked down by the frost.


Oleanders along the front wall of the house

The oleander on the left side, in the niche
The oleander on the left side, in the niche
Oleanders on the front side of the house
Oleanders on the front side of the house

Both oleander bushes were planted in early summer 2011 ca. 150 cm / 59 inches tall, 8-10 years old). They developed well over the summer and got as big as the narrow frames on the wall indicate. It was to these frames that I attached protective sheeting for the winter; tightly sealed to the wall and lying on the ground. During really cold periods, the two bushes got additional coverings of plastic sheeting inside their shelters.


The oleander on the left is in the protected niche (extra photo), the right-hand one at the corner of the house is unprotected. The house wall is cold. Then, in February 2012 we got three weeks of lingering frost with nighttime temperatures below -20 C (-4 F). The oleander on the left suffered major damage: it lost all its leaves, some of the thinner, younger branches froze and the upper stems froze; the bush had to be cut back to a third of its former size. It has grown new branches during the summer this year, has leafed out again and actually looks quite nice now – just considerably smaller. Of course, there were no flowers at all; it will go into the winter with a large number of latent inflorescences. 

The story of the oleander on the right is a short one: it froze to the ground. Dead. I didn’t dug up the rootstock – maybe something would sprout from it – I just put a small oleander, taken out of its pot, on top of it and wrapped it with sheeting so that it could be watered. This rooted into the ground right away and is growing. And then in midsummer, some very small, very thin sprouts appeared from the old rootstock. These, together with the added plant, are forming a small oleander bush.   

Will the two survive the winter? 


Oleanders planted in the open field

Oleanders planted out in the field . . .
Oleanders planted out in the field . . .
. . and unprotected
. . and unprotected

The bush consists of two plants (Splendens Giganteum and Mont Blanc, 160-170 cm/ 63-67 inches tall, 12-15 years old, set out in the spring of 2011) and because of the buried building rubble, they were not planted into the ground, merely taken out of their pots with the rootballs set on the surface of the soil and heaped around with soil. In spite of the not-very-good conditions, they have developed well and went into late autumn bushy, dense, and blooming.  As protection, I built them a tentlike plastic-sheeting house and wrapped them with additional sheeting in midwinter. Then, in February 2012 came the three weeks of lingering frost with low temperatures under -20 C (-4 F). The exposed location made the situation worse; there was no additional protection. It was interesting to observe that the ground inside the tent never froze. The oleander bush, however, was killed down to ground level. The protection was simply not enough. The radiation from the sun was too  scanty or non-existent for the ground to be warmed enough to be able to store heat. After removing the tent and cutting back the plants to the rootstock, the year began with nothing and the hope that something would sprout. 

The photos show that the rootstocks really did start to grow new shoots around June and now the two plants form a beautiful bush about 32 inches high, lush and green, with dense foliage and full of latent flower buds for next year. Light frosts during the night have not as yet been able to cause any damage, in spite of the exposed location.  

It’s November 17, the oleander bush remains out in the open. When really cold weather is in the forecast, I will build the protective covering again – and better than in the previous year. 

 

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