Last updated on May 21st, 2023 at 10:37 pm

The oleander (scientific name: Nerium Oleander) is an evergreen shrub flower generally found in the tropical region. This flower belongs to the Dogbane family (Apocynaceae) and the genus Nerium

This flower has an interesting and complicated etymology. It owes its taxonomic name to Linnaeus, who named it in 1753. The Latin name Nerium originates in the Greek word nerion, which is related to another word, neros, meaning water. 

Namely, the plant’s natural habitat is along water basins—rivers and streams. On the other hand, the flower’s common name, oleander, is of uncertain origin. Some sources link it to the Latin word Olea which stands for an olive tree (due to the resemblance of the two plants). 

Other theories hypothesize an etymological link to the Greek compound word ollyo, which means “I kill,” and aner, which means “man.” This is a reference to the toxin contained in the plant.

On the other hand, others register its usage back as far as the 1st century AD. The oleander flower blooms at a distinct time of the year in different regions. However, it prefers to bloom in summer. Blooms tend to peak during the Spring to summer months. 

The flower is native to India, South China, Iran, and the Mediterranean. Oleander was cultivated from ancient times, in the early 16th century, by Romans, Greeks, and Chinese gardens. Cultivators produce a wide range of popular oleander.

What does the Oleander flower symbolize?

In flower language, the oleander flower is associated with the complication of relationships and the nature of love. It also symbolizes desire, romance, destiny, charm, romance, and seduction. 

It is popularly known for its wide range of colors, from pink to yellow to purple and white. However, the meaning of oleander flowers doesn’t vary much depending on their color.

Oleander has some major cultural significance and many mythological and religious meanings. As the flower is found all around the globe, it is quite evident it holds different cultural significance in different cultures. 

The name oleander comes from a Greek story named Leander, who was found drowning after a violent storm and saved by his love. Oleander! It is the Victorian meaning of beware, which represents the complicated nature of romance and love.

Oleander also has a key role in the Christian bible’s “St. Joseph’s Staff” and “Rose of Jericho” in Italy. In the Mishnah, the Talmud contains multiple mentions of oleander. The oleander flower has many cultural aspects. 

In India, the plant’s flowers are used as an offering to the god, a common feature in all temples. Oleander is also used by Hindu mourners, who often place flowers on dead bodies.

The oleander flowers, through the ages, are prominent art figures. In Pompeii, the preserved city, the paintings of murals on the garden walls featured flowering shrubs. Many great artists mentioned oleanders in their paintings.

All in all, the oleander flower symbolic meanings are:

  • destiny
  • understanding
  • desire
  • charm
  • romance
  • endless love
  • bitterness
  • contempt
  • protective power

Meaning of the Oleander flower colors

Pink color

Laurels, Oleander, Nature, Flower, Pink, Plants, Summer

Since pink generally signifies good health and playfulness and represents youth, the pink oleander flower meaning can be attached to good health.

Yellow color

Oleander, Blossom, Bloom, Orange, Plant

The yellow color is a sign of everlasting friendship between two souls. It also symbolizes happiness, optimism, and creativity. In a way, the yellow oleander flower can be associated with friendship and happiness.

White color

Oleander, Blossom, Bloom, Poisonous, Close Up, Ant

White stands for peace, prosperity, and universal brotherhood. So, the white oleander flower can be associated with those essential qualities for a better tomorrow.

Red color

Oleander, Shrub, Nerium Oleander, Rose Laurel

Red is associated with passion, love, desire, heat, and rage. So, the red oleander flower can be related to those same emotions.

Interesting facts about the OleanderOleander flowers

  • The oleander flower is a signature feature in Moroccan garden designs.
  • This flower grows rapidly, and all plant parts are toxic to pets, humans, and livestock. If injected, it leaks out a milky sap, which can lead to illness and death in some cases.
  • It is widely known for its drought tolerance in many tropical regions. It can be widely seen in highway dividers and can survive a month without water, but the plant will end up dead any time more than that. This is a heat-loving plant and cannot survive cold or frosty weather.
  • The flowers are lightly fragmented with a musky smell that is often compared to apricots.
  • The plant is a shrub, not a tree, so that it can be grown as a hedge or a focal point in a garden. The plant grows 6 to 16 feet tall. The size, however, varies with the type of flower.
  • The oleander flower has clumping, broadleaf evergreen, and it has dark green leaves, which are about six inches long.
  • There are some misconceptions about the oleander, like bees drink the plant’s nectar and die. The funny part is that the flower is nectarless. Another mind-blowing myth is- touching the plant could cause cancer.
  • The fruit of the oleander plant is called the capsule. The capsule contains numerous seeds.
  • The oleander flower has been present in the Mediterranean Region since the Miocene epoch (5–23 million years ago).
  • The oleander flower is the official flower of Hiroshima. The oleander was the first plant that blossomed in Hiroshima after the 1945 atomic bomb tragedy.

How to grow Oleander flowers

All components of the oleander plant are poisonous to people and pets, including the smoke produced by burning plant parts. Plant oleander flowers away from locations where children and pets may play. Use protective clothes and gloves when planting, pinching, trimming, or propagating oleander.

  1. Plant the oleanders in well-drained soil for best results. 
  2. Place them in a spot to receive full sun.
  3. Test the pH level of the soil before planting.
  4. Mix in ground limestone, oyster shells, or wood ash if the soil is overly acidic.

How to care for Oleander flowers

  1. Water whenever the top inch of the soil becomes dry.
  2. Feed poor soil with a light dose of a balanced fertilizer during the plant’s first spring and a light fertilization yearly afterward.
  3. Pinch tips of young stems to prevent them from becoming leggy and encourage branching. 
  4. Prune out any damaged or diseased limbs.

Best time to gift Oleander flowers

Oleander flowers can be gifted on many occasions, but your recipient needs to know how toxic these bloomed flowers can be.

You can give it as a potted shrub or as a cut flower. Whatever the case, this flower is a suitable gift for many occasions, such as birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. 

It is recommended to keep it away from children and pets.


Oleander flowers have a huge range of shades, are evergreen, and are poisonous. The flower has a range of significance with its long religious traditions, historical symbolism, and myths. It also may stand for love, desire, destiny, and romance, and the flower should be cautiously gifted. 

Keeping it away from children, pets, and livestock is important. Oleander is a beautiful plant that looks excellent in your garden, provided it does not end up in your mouth.

If you want to know and learn more about flowers, we at PansyMaiden can help you. Check out our fun, easy-to-read, and informative flower-related content that you will surely enjoy!