How to Care for an Octillo Plant


Plant ocotillos and enjoy a plant that requires little time or care to thrive. Ocotillo plants thrive in low-water, drought-resistant gardens. A native of the desert, the plant sheds its leaves during dry conditions then leafs out again when it rains. While the ocotillo is frost tolerant, it prefers warm, dry weather and is best grown in areas that experience a minimal amount of freezing. Ocotillos also produce orange-red tubular flowers at the tip of each growing cane. With proper care, the plant will remain healthy.

Step 1

Plant ocotillo in a full-sun, south-facing location. Choose an area with well-drained, sandy soil or plant the ocotillo on a slight slope so excess water drains away from the plant's roots. Grow container plants in a cactus mix instead of regular potting soil.

Step 2

Set rocks on top the soil over the root zone of newly planted ocotillos. Leave a 2- to 3-inch space between the rocks and the trunk or canes of the plant. The rocks prevent the plant from falling over and uprooting itself until it is established.

Step 3

Mist the canes of newly planted ocotillo with water once or twice a day daily. Mist for the first two months after planting so the ocotillo can establish itself with minimal stress.

Step 4

Water ocotillo every two to three weeks for the first year after planting. Irrigate as often as once weekly if the soil is drying out during hot weather. Supplemental water isn't necessary for garden plants after one year. Water container plants when the soil is nearly dry throughout.

Step 5

Fertilize ocotillo with a soluble, balanced plant food in early summer. Begin fertilizing one year after planting. Apply the fertilizer at half the rate recommended on the label, as overfertilization stresses the plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Cactus potting mix
  • Rocks
  • Fertilizer


  • University of Arizona Extension: Cactus, Agave, Yucca and Ocotillo
  • Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society: How to Plant and Care for Your New Ocotillo
Keywords: ocotillo plant care, growing desert plants, desert ocotillo care

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.