Fouquieria splendens, or Ocotillo, is a deciduous shrub native to Baja California to Texas, and northward to the Colorado deserts. The stiff grey whip like stems are heavily furrowed and covered with stout spines. The small, roundish leaves reach up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long and are aggressively deciduous, readily dropping their leaves in time of drought. They form new leaves just as quickly when it rains and may have a number of flushes of leaves each year. Plants will reach about 20 feet (over 6 meters) tall. They are sometimes used as hedge material where they are native and make an impenetrable hedge. They are easy to culture and their size is controlled easily by pruning and container size.
Blooming: In the spring and summer, the attractive red tubular flowers are located in spectacular 1 foot long clusters -- it is the only time that the plant is really showy.
Culture: Fouquieria splendens need full sun to high interior lighting, with a well-drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 1 part loam to 2 parts sand, with small pebbles added to ensure good drainage. Plants are well watered and allowed to dry thoroughly before watering again. Plants should be lightly fertilized only once during the growing season. During the winter months, plants are kept in a cool room with temperature of 50°F (10° C) and water should be withheld during the rest period. Watering should resume when the plant starts getting new growth in spring.
Propagation: Fouquieria splendens is easily propagated from cuttings and from seed when available.
Fouquieria splendens was featured as Plant of the Week March 18-24, 2005.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.