The Ocotillo Plant

The Ocotillo Plant

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The Ocotillo Plant (Fouquieria splendens). Is a majestic desert flowering plant.  The limbs or stems will shoot out towards the sky.  It will look great in all desert landscapes and can tolerate poor soil.  It is a plant that is indigenous to the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts.

They have tubular flowers that are bright orange in color that will last from mid-spring until late spring somethings longer if the conditions are right.

It is pronounced – aa·kuh·ti·low. 

The Ocotillo Plant
Close up Image of Ocotillo Flower. Image by White77 from Pixabay

How big does the Ocotillo Get?

Height growth is about 20 – 30 ft. sometimes taller and about 10 ft. wide.  It is not a real cactus but it sure looks like one.  They will produce long tubular canes that will shoot upwards sometimes up to 30 ft. in length. The canes have large thorns that will keep desert animals from eating its branches.

The root system is typically large but not very deep.  This helps the plant take in rainwater when it does rain in the desert Southwest.   It will take up to one year before it starts to leaf out and flower however, you can speed up the process by providing it more water during the hot mid-summer season.

Where to place this plant?

Best to plant it in full sun too much shade and it will not produce flowers.  It loves being planted in rock landscapes as it can take the reflected heat.  It will also generate new foliage during the monsoon seasons in the Southwest.

The Ocotillo plant is perfect for Xeriscaping landscape.

The Ocotillo Plant
Image by Mike Goad from Pixabay

It is best to make sure you have good drainage as it will develop root rot if the plant receives too much water.  Try deep watering once or twice per month after initial planting.  Do this for about 3-4 months then stop completely.

Problems with the Ocotillo

The Ocotillo plant is an easy plant to grow and is not prone to diseases or insects but it does happen.  Sometimes scale and mealybugs will attack this plant.  Spray with a good insecticide to kill these pests.  You can also use insecticidal soaps or neem oil as an organic substitute.

Often times Ocotillos will take a long time to leaf out or produce a flower.  The best thing to do is water as mentioned above.


The Ocotillo plant
The Ocotillo in a Southwestern style house with rock garden landscaping

The Ocotillo Plant


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