My Oleander Looks Dead – Why & What To Do

Oleander plants look beautiful during the Summer; their purple and pink flowers are a true sight to behold. And thankfully, as a tropical evergreen shrub, it is relatively resilient by nature, even remaining somewhat drought-tolerant. Hence, to find that your oleander is dying can be rather bothersome and even confusing. Thankfully, I’m here to explain all.

So why does my oleander look dead? Your oleander may look dead as a result of a pest infestation or a fungal disease, or it is struggling with the climate and conditions it is being kept in.

For clarity, I’ve detailed why your oleander may be in ill health in greater below, alongside top tips to help you revive it. Read on to learn more! 

Why Is My Oleander Dying?

Oleander Leaf Scorch

Leaf scorch disease is one of the predominant causes of death of the oleander.

The disease is brought about by xylella fastidiosa, a deadly bacterial pathogen, and works slowly, infecting the plant repeatedly over the course of a few years.

The plant will ultimately collapse and die, but prior signs of the infection include yellowing and drooping leaves.

Oleander Knot 

Oleander knot is a disease that is most likely to affect your plant when the weather is cool and wet.

The disease enters the oleander through its existing wounds and causes galls to develop across it.

Fortunately, despite the resulting distorted growth and unsightly nature of the swellings that emerge, the disease is unlikely to be fatal, and if it’s not too severe, it’s very much treatable. 

Pest Invasions 

The oleander plant suffers from its fair share of pest attacks, and they can be pretty dangerous! 

The oleander scale is one of the main culprits to look out for.

The small white bug sucks the sap out of the stem and leaves of the plant. In turn, the plant becomes devoid of its nutritional juices, which becomes evident through its growth-stunted leaves.

Whilst light infestations don’t pose a real risk, full-blown invasions are problematic and a cause for concern. 

The same is true of aphids.

These common sap-sucking pests are detrimental when present in big numbers.

The sheer speed at which they reproduce means you’ll want to deal with them as soon as you spot them. 


Additionally, your oleander could well be dying from thirst.

The symptoms of an underwatered oleander are pretty much the same as that evoked by leaf scorch disease.

Without sufficient water, the plant will dry out, which in turn causes its leaves to droop and become yellow whilst the plant simultaneously becomes weaker by the day. 

Cotton Root Rot 

Cotton root rot affects several plants, oleanders included. It’s a soil-borne fungal disease that initially turns the leaves of the oleander brown before causing the overall dieback of its branches and twigs.

The root rot is pretty much impossible for the plant to recover from.

Once it contracts the disease, it will progressively weaken over the following year or two before dying entirely. 

Extreme Weather 

The oleander’s tropical origins mean that it doesn’t fare well in harsh conditions.

Frosty conditions damage its foliage and can even burn its flower buds and leaves.

Continued cold weather can cause your plant, as you know it, to deteriorate significantly.

However, it’s likely that its roots will remain safe, and as the weather warms up, it’s likely to resprout healthy new growth once pruned. 

How Do You Revive Oleanders?

By now, it’s apparent that oleander plants face plenty of risks during their lifetime. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re doomed. 

Read on to discover the various approaches that are capable of bringing them back to life.


You may be able to effectively treat various fungal diseases, such as root rot, through the use of fungicides.

You could make your own from the comfort of your very own home or pick up a ready-made solution from your local garden store.

Either way, if there’s a possibility of salvaging your oleander, it’s certainly worth a try! 

Gall Removal 

Whilst oleander knot isn’t fatal; it’s admittedly not great to look at.

Provided the disease hasn’t become too widespread, you should be able to prune the swellings away by cutting them away with care. 

Be sure to undertake the pruning process only when the weather is dry to prevent the influx of further bacteria.

Moving forward, try not to expose the plant, particularly its leaves, to water for a prolonged period of time. 

Pest Removal 

It’s easy enough to remove aphids from your oleander.

Simply pick up your hose pipe, set the water stream to a powerful setting, and hose them away.

This approach will also knock any other bugs, including scale insects, off the plant. 

However, if their presence seems to be more stubborn than anticipated, you could either whip up or pick up a pesticide solution.

Homemade solutions tend to have vinegar as their base ingredient, whereas the store-bought varieties are usually more chemical and less environmentally friendly.

Even so, organic products do exist, and with a thorough enough scout, you’re bound to come across one!

Alternatively, if you’d rather keep clear of topical solutions, scent deterrents may do the trick.

Most insects are repelled by the smell of peppermint and cayenne pepper, so the presence of these smells in the vicinity of the plant is likely to repel them from the area.

Be sure to replenish the smells every couple of days to ensure their continued effectiveness. 

Other Suggestions To Keep Your Oleander Healthy


Although evergreens don’t usually require pruning, there’s no harm in doing so once a year during the Springtime, provided the climate is dry.

Simply remove the damaged branches and shape the shrub as you wish! 


Upon pruning, it’s a good idea to encourage new growth by fertilizing your oleander, particularly if your plant is still young.

The most effective fertilizer to use is a well-rounded one.

With periodic application during its flowering season, your plant will thrive to the best of its ability. 

Sufficient Watering 

Prevent your oleander from drying out by watering it every few days.

Whilst it’s unlikely to die or sustain significant damage from underwatering, frequent watering will keep the plant in its prime, where it should be!