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need ocotillo help

Posted by Baci z10Ca (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 26, 04 at 6:53

I recently got an ocotillo. I planted cuttings & a plant. The cuttings were placed in cacti soil and a coarse sand and they have sprouted leaves. The plant was planted in the soil it came from and it is not taking off. The stems have green on them, but the root has the burgandy bark and appears somewhat white inside. I dug it up the other day thinking I needed better drainage, but I am wondering if the root is dead. I did nick the root when I cut up the plant. It also rained a couple of days in my area and I am wondering if it got too wet. Should I cut off all the stems & try to plant them since they are still green? Also, does anyone know where I can get different varieties of ocotillo? I was told there are four different varieties.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: need ocotillo help

I would try and hold off doing anything to your ocotillo until at least April. If the main stem from which all the other branches arise is still firm and woody, it should be okay (no rotting). I have an ocotillo that has been subjected to soggy and cold conditions and its doing great. The main trunk looks similar to what you described. Ocotillos are incredibly tough plants, and it might just very well be dormant. If this is the case, it will probably leaf out (and possibly bloom) in spring and summer. The fact that the stems show green is a good sign.

There are several species in the genus commonly known as ocotillo. The most common one (and probably the most cold hardy) is Fouquieria splendens, which is the only one found in the U.S. The others are found in Mexico: Fouquieria macdougalii, F. diguettii, and a very strange one from Baja called F. columnaris (aka Idria columnaris). This one is known as the Boojum Tree. Additionally, there are two others that I frankly dont know a whole lot about: F. fasciculata and F. peninsularis. As far as availability goes, F. splendens is easily found at most nurseries, and I have seen F. diguettii & macdougalii for sale, although much less frequently. Hope this is helpful and good luck!


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RE: need ocotillo help

  • Posted by Baci z10Ca (My Page) on
    Fri, Feb 27, 04 at 22:00

Thanks so much cactus dude. The ocotillo is such a beautiful plant I do not want to lose it. I thought it might be dormant but was surprised when my cuttings (from another plant) immediately took off.
Thanks also for the info on other varieties - it is very informative. I visit Mexico from time to time so now I want to see that Boojum Tree.


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RE: need ocotillo help

I think your main plant is slower to respond because of the tough, old woody growth. The younger, tender growth usually will root more quickly. Boojums are fascinating looking; I don't have one and don't see them too much here in the upper Baja, but they're very common further south.

Baci, if you're going to travel the Sea of Cortez side of the Baja, drop me a note and we can hook up. I'm usually here October - April.


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RE: need ocotillo help

Should you ever make it Phoenix, the Desert Botanical Garden here has a huge Boojum tree - evidently they are an exttttrrrrrrrreeeeeeeemly slow grower, so a large specimen is pretty unusual. Right across the patio from it is an F. macdougalii, one of the tree ocotillos. Very cool, also the biggest one I have ever seen. And the showiest patch of Ocotillo I have ever seen is in Tucson, right beside Pima Community College. It's spectacular after a good rain.

According to a quick Google search, there are 10 different species of Fouquiera. Whodda thunk?


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RE: need ocotillo help

  • Posted by Baci z10Ca (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 2, 04 at 6:44

I appreciate all the tips & have repotted my plant. I looked at the root & it had a red color - similar to good wood. We have had a week of heavy rains in my area so I have taken mine out of the rain. With all these other tips posted I will be looking for other varieties of ocotillo. The Arizona cacti gardens are definitely on my list for places to visit. I do want to see those Boojums & if I get down to Baja I will contact you Harleylady. I would assume the ocotillo are inland since the ocean breezes might harm them.


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RE: need ocotillo help

  • Posted by Baci z10Ca (My Page) on
    Sat, Aug 7, 04 at 9:09

I just wanted to update on my ocotillo in case anyone has similar problems. I started watering it monthly, put it in the hottest area I could find & it leafed out. It did not bloom but has kept the leaves for a couple of months. I have found that in starting cuttings they leaf out in hot shade the best they do not like full sun. As long as they have green streaks in the stem they are still alive & I leave them alone.


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RE: need ocotillo help

  • Posted by judy_38 Dewey, az 86327 (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 27, 04 at 22:56

Help, I am in a zone that octotillos won't surive, but I am growing a small one in a pot. It has grown about 6 inches this summer. Has anyone had luck wintering them over iside. I love them and want to be able to have one. How about wintering over bouginivvila,(not sure on the spelling) plan on trying that as well. In cold NE had a lot of luck wintering over things that I don't have to here. Thanks in advance.


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RE: need ocotillo help

  • Posted by Baci z10Ca (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 29, 04 at 0:05

I kept mine outside last winter in the hottest area I could find. It is usually 30-40 at night in the winter & it survived. All my neighbors keep their bougavillia outside - it bloomed in the winter. Since ours has survived outside they should probably survive indoors.
I recently spoke with a botanist about ocotillo's & he stressed they need to be planted in the sand they originally came from (assuming it is a cutting). The sand has certain bacteria & fungi that the plant needs. I water mine once monthly.


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RE: need ocotillo help

I just bought a potted Ocotillo, and was told by the nursery to plant it in the soil it came in wit the pot, it did not look like sand, it looked like some type of mixture of mulch and organic dirt or something like that.

I planted it shallow, then misted the canes and watered the ground area as I was told. I was told not to ever water it again, is this right? I planted in full sun, is that ok? and Temps around my house in July are typically 115 degrees

any other suggestions?


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Native ocotillo survive outside here south of Albq., NM where we get heavy snow sometimes and teens or below temps. These are very tough and can take cold and snow although not 'snowpack'.


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RE: need ocotillo help

If it is in sandy or loamy soil, you can water it to get established, one a week during the hot season should do fine. You may not need to water it after this year but occasional watering if in fast draining soil will keep it green during the hottest part of the year. good luck.


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RE: need ocotillo help

I live in Belen just 30 mi. south of Albuquerque and Octillos are native to this area. I have two nice plants that I transplanted from a seller. My question is this, do I need to water them in the winter? I know that they don't need watering but about every two weeks in the summer. Your reply will be appreciated....thanks


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RE: need ocotillo help

Is it possible to start an ocotillo plant from a cutting of a main plant that is huge and very healthy, If so - how do I go about doing this?
thank you, Carol Morse


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RE: need ocotillo help

I believe you can start an ocotillo from a cutting, just be sure to use "new wood" that is pliable, not old hardened wood, which won't take.


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RE: need ocotillo help

I live in Austin Texas and I am worried that the soil just might be a bit too organic and wet for my ocotillo, is that true? If so what should I do when planting it...


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