There is a marked inclination among our patrons the past year or two to decorate their grounds, particularly where the grounds are confined to a city lot, with palms, sweet bays, tubs of hydrangeas and other plants, and the well known oleander may yet come into favor; in fact, we have of late had calls for large plants of it.
Our acquaintance with this fine shrub is too often an unpleasant one. Some worthy matron may possess an oleander too large for her window, and she enquires how much you will charge to store it for the winter. You are bound to charge about as much as the plant is worth, so the deal is off. Still, where you have a house entirely devoted to the care of such winter boarders, you must take the oleander as well as other plants, only be sure you get enough for your space and labor. It is no more reasonable that we should take in a palm or sweet bay or an oleander for little recompense than that a livery stable should board a horse all winter for little or nothing.
With all their familiarity, oleanders are beautiful shrubs. We all hear so often about the hedges of them in Bermuda. In the cooler parts of Europe they are almost entirely greenhouse plants. With us they are chiefly used for summer decoration outside, and our warm, bright summer suits them finely if well supplied with water.
They root easily from young growths in spring, and with occasional pinching ana shifting on as required soon make large plants. It is with the care of large plants that we are most concerned, and to obtain a fine lot of flowers in the summer.
The flower comes on the matured wood of the spring growth or previous fall, so the ideal treatment would be to store them in October, after flowering, in a very cool house, or a light shed will do, but no frost must touch them. In early April prune back the growths that have borne flowers, and with more heat and more water encourage them to make their growth, which by June will be fairly matured, and they will then soon flower. During the winter months they will do with very little water unless kept in a warm greenhouse, when, naturally, they want more.
The correct name of our common oleander is Nerium Oleander, and several handsome varieties exist: Album plenum, double white; Henri Mares, pink, double; Madonna grandiflorum, creamy white, large and double; Professor Durand, pale yellow, free; rose double, bright rose; splendens, bright red, double and several others.
The oleander is pestered with mealy bug, and much more by a white scale. There is no excuse for the bug on a plant that will enjoy the hose as does the oleander. When you see the signs of scale, sponge the whole plant with kerosene emulsion. In California the oleander is very popular, but a constant warfare must be waged against the ever-present scale.