in Tucson, Phoenix,
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Gardening in Tucson, Phoenix, Arizona and California

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Growing Fouquieria splendens: Ocotillo

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Form: A semi-succulent shrub composed of clustered, spiny stems growing from a single base.
Leaf retention: Drought deciduous.
Growth rate: Slow to rapid, depending on rain and temperature.
Mature Size: 20' high.
Flowers: Orange to red flowers 1" long in clusters at top of canes.
Bloom: Late winter or spring.
Fruit: Seed capsule.
Leaves: Oval, green, about 2" long. Leaves are frequently shed during dry periods.
Stems: As many as 75 unbranched, green stems with thorns grow from a single base.
Wildlife: Attracts hummingbirds, birds, insects.
Toxic / Danger: Thorns.
Origin: Southwestern United States and Mexico.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 7-11.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun.
Water once established: Once every two months. Recently planted ocotillo canes should be irrigated by spraying with water. They can appear dead for several months before sprouting leaves.
Soil: Well drained, dry, pH 6.1-7.8 (slightly acidic to slightly alkaline). Locate this plant where water runs off and does not accumulate. It is subject to root rot in moist soil.
Litter: Low.
Propagation: Seed or cuttings. Canes cut at their base can be placed one foot deep in soil and will root.
Uses: Ornamental, screen, security hedge.

This plant is a member of the Ocotillo family (Fouquieriaceae) and not a member of the cactus family (Cactaceae), in spite of its thorns.

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Latest update: May, 2021.

Fouquieria splendens: Ocotillo - flowers

Fouquieria splendens: Ocotillo - leaves

Fouquieria splendens: Ocotillo