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Are my oleanders infected with oleander leaf scorch?

Author: Kelly Young
Issue: January, 2018, Page 129

Q - A neighbor recently speculated that our oleanders were infected with a blight and should be removed. Although some of the leaves are yellow, I don’t see what the problem is. Could he be right?

A - Oleanders are affected by a number of diseases. Among them is oleander leaf scorch, which is caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa. The bacteria are transmitted from plant to plant by sap-feeding sharpshooter insects. Leaves infected with OLS turn yellow along the edges and die. There is no treatment; infected plants should be removed. The symptoms of OLS are similar to salt burn, which is caused by insufficient irrigation or exposure to salty water, such as backwash from a pool. Definitive diagnosis can only be made by a plant pathology lab, which may be pricey. First, check the irrigation system servicing the oleanders to make sure the plants are receiving enough water. To learn more about how to adequately water your plants, visit the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association website at

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