The oleander is one of several desert plants that I recommend for people who want desert shrubs or bushes that are perennial (you need to plant them only once), hardy, low care, relatively drought resistant, easy to find, pretty cheap to buy, and provide lovely color many times during the year.
The botanical name for the oleander is Nerium oleander. Oleander is pronounced: oh-lee-an-dr. Oleanders are evergreen shrubs in the dogbane family. Clusters of flowers appear on the oleander from May through October. Several flower colors are available. In the Phoenix area, you'll find white, pink, salmon, and red. The pink and salmon colors are probably the most popular and have the most flowers. Oleanders are pretty fast growers. They can tolerate pretty bad soil, lots of hot sun, and don't need much water.
The oleander is poisonous, but honestly I've not heard of anyone becoming seriously ill from an oleander. Just being around it is not a problem. Just make sure that your children and pets don't eat the leaves or flowers, and don't use the leaves or branches for barbecue fires.
Just like all flowering shrubs, oleanders require occasional trimming. When purchasing an oleander, be aware of the size you are buying. Some oleanders can grow to 20 feet tall! Those are very difficult to trim. Oleanders make a popular divider or hedge, and can even be trained into a tree, although the tree variety might take years to develop a strong trunk and is susceptible to damage during monsoon winds.
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