Ocotillo Planting Instructions


While ocotillo plants often grow side-by-side with cacti in the desert Southwest, these splendid shrubs are not cacti themselves because they have true foliage. Although ocotillo plants grow slowly and may not produce leaves for two years after planting, once they establish in a growing location, healthy ocotillo plants might bloom two or three times each season after being sufficiently saturated with desert rain. Plant ocotillo plants in the spring before the brutally hot weather begins, so as to enable the plants to acclimate before extreme heat.

Step 1

Spread the tarp near the planting location.

Step 2

Dig a planting hole in a sunny location. Make the hole 1 foot deeper and 1 foot wider than the root system of the ocotillo plant. As you remove the soil from the hole, place it directly onto the tarp.

Step 3

Mix 1 part coarse sand to 2 parts of soil you removed from the hole. Mix the two materials together well to incorporate them completely.

Step 4

Refill the planting hole with approximately 1 foot of the amended soil from the tarp and tamp the soil down firmly in the hole with your hands.

Step 5

Place the ocotillo plant into the hole and center it on top of the soil in the hole. Grasp the ocotillo plant with one hand to ensure it stays vertical in the hole as you fill in additional soil.

Step 6

Add additional amended soil into the hole around the roots of the ocotillo plant. Tamp the soil down firmly as you fill the hole so there are no air pockets in the hole.

Step 7

Tamp the soil down well around the ocotillo after you finish planting it.

Step 8

Water the ocotillo plant generously immediately after planting it until the soil is saturated. Keep the soil evenly moist--ocotillos need more water than cacti. Water the ocotillo plant once per week, watering to the point of saturating the soil without puddles forming.

Step 9

Place large stones over the soil area in a 1-foot area around the center of the trunk to secure the ocotillo plant in the soil and prevent it from tipping over.

Things You'll Need

  • Tarp
  • Shovel
  • Coarse sand
  • Large rocks


  • The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension: Cactus, Agave, Yucca and Ocotillo
  • Plant Sciences Center of Sierra Vista, Arizona: Ocotillo
Keywords: ocotillo plants, plant ocotillo plants, happy ocotillo plants

About this Author

Kathryn Hatter is a 42-year-old veteran homeschool educator and regular contributor to Natural News. She is an accomplished gardener, seamstress, quilter, painter, cook, decorator, digital graphics creator and she enjoys technical and computer gadgets. She began writing for Internet publications in 2007. She is interested in natural health and hopes to continue her formal education in the health field (nursing) when family commitments will allow.