We have had a lot of questions lately about the Ocotillo plant and how to take care of them. Ocotillo’s come as bare root plants and usually are bare when we plant them. It can take up to 2 years for an Ocotillo to leaf out and start to show life. They prefer a spritzing on the stems in the summer heat, especially when we have had little water in our Arizona desert. Other then that, they do not require water and can grow all on their own. Many homeowners make the mistake of watering their Ocotillo, which will rot the roots and it will die. Ocotillo’s like well drained soil and love the heat. They do not like the low freezing temperatures, which is why I believe we have had so many questions about them lately. The extreme (what we call extreme in the Arizona desert) freezing temperatures we received a year ago took a toll on many of our native Arizona plants and may have adversely affected the Ocotillo.
Ocotillo’s are a unique native desert plant but are not a cactus. They have low-branching, leafy canes and can grow to 15′ tall and wide. In the spring they are topped with bright orangish-red flowers. They are typically leafless most of the year, but will produce many leaves after a significant precipitation. During a drought, Ocotillos will shed their leave to reduce evaporation loss and conserve plant moisture. They are extremely drought tolerant.