Yes it is here, the dreaded Oleander Leaf Scorch.
One of the most lethal diseases is vicennial by the smoke tree leaf hopper. This particular, peculiar, insect has been with us for years, but the disease has just shown up in central Phoenix in the last two years.
You will notice damage to your plants when they starting to a chloritic yellow appearance and progresses to a scorching of the leaf tips.
I have devised an 8 step process for helping to save your existing oleanders:
1) Prune back your existing oleanders to approximately 3-5’ high or lower if possible.
Be sure to sterilize your pruners between plants with a 10% bleach solution.
2) I cannot stress again to re-clean your pruners chainsaw or whatever you use for trimming.
3) Cover your plants with shade cloth, cheese cloth or some shade breathable type material. You must “shade your plants”. Sharp shooter bacteria does not like the
4) Release parasitic wasps or other beneficial insects that paralyze sharp shooters. You can contact www.arbico-organics.com to order these insects.
5) Spray Kaolinite clay on the oleanders. This material is all organic and shades the plant from the sun which reduces transpiration and reduces sharp shooter damage. The product name is Surround WP and also can be ordered from Aribico online.
6) Use a good antibiotic therapy such as Oxytetracycline. It can be applied to the soil or injected into the base of the plant. This can be ordered from the Artistic Arborist at www.artistic-arborist.com or call them at 602-263-8889
7) Reduce weed growth and over-watering of plants and oleanders. Oleanders need to be Watered no more than every 2-3 weeks 3 feet deep.
8) Increase the natural health of the soil and plants by foliar feeding with
Extreme juice, Liquid seaweed and Compost teas with and application of Texas Greensand, all of which are in my book “Extreme Gardening”.
Another note to be aware of, is the Ruby Lace variety of oleander does not seem to be susceptible to the bacteria.