How to Care for Ocotillo Plants


The ocotillo plant (Fouquieria splendens), sometimes called coach whip plant, is a succulent native to the deserts of California, Texas and Mexico. After significant rainfall occurs, the tall canes become lined with leaves, which are dropped during dry weather in order to conserve moisture. No matter how much rain falls, the ocotillo can be counted on to produce red, plume-shaped flowers. It can reach heights of up to 20 feet and is capable of surviving temperature dips as low as 10 degrees F.

Step 1

Dig a hole the same width as the root ball of the ocotillo and the same depth as the dirt line that is found on the base of the canes.

Step 2

Remove any damaged or broken roots prior to planting. Put the roots into the planting hole and replace the loosened soil carefully. Plant ocotillo in the same direction that it was previously growing.

Step 3

Use a water hose to apply a slow drip of moisture to the ocotillo after planting. This will ensure that the roots get enough moisture without disturbing the soil around them.

Step 4

Spray the canes of the ocotillo plant once or twice each day for the first two months after transplanting.

Step 5

Water once each week during hot weather and once every two to three weeks when it is cool. Once the plant is well established it will only need water during very hot and dry conditions.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not over-water the ocotillo plant, as this could quickly kill it.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Scissors


  • University of Arizona: Ocotillo
  • Desert USA: Ocotillo Fouquieria
  • Tuscan Cactus and Succulent Society: How to Plant and Care for Your New Ocotillo
Keywords: ocotillo plant, plant ocotillo, grow ocotillo, care for ocotillo, ocotillo plant care, coach whip plant

About this Author

Annita Lawson has been working as a freelance writer since 2004. Her work has been published in various web and print outlets, including The Dabbling Mum, A Virtuous Woman, and Pediatrics for Parents. Lawson is pursuing an Associate of Arts degree at Southeast Kentucky Community College. She enjoys sharing all that she has learned about parenting, healthy eating and living a frugal lifestyle.