Fouquieria splendens

Plant Form: Deciduous succulent shrub

Water Use: Very low, low

Mature Size: 8-20 ft. tall x 5-10 ft. wide

Exposure: Full sun, reflected sun

Bloom Time: Spring (March – May), Summer (June – August)

Native to: Southern California, southwest US, Mexico

Hardiness: Cold Hardy to 0-10°F

Ocotillo is an iconic symbol of the southwest that forms a vase-shaped shrub with up to 100 wand-like, thorny stems that radiate from the crown. Small, oval, fleshy leaves appear after rain, persisting for weeks or even months, then fall off during drought. Bright orange-red, tubular flowers form on the tips of each cane that attract hummingbirds in late spring and early summer. While bare-root plants are available from nurseries, potted plants are more reliable (always check for legal tags and permits). Water newly-planted ocotillos frequently by lightly spraying the canes from top to bottom during summer months. No added water is needed once established, but leaves can be retained by watering twice a month over the summer. Ocotillo is stunning as an accent, especially when lit up in front of a wall, or for interesting vertical structure as a specimen, in beds and borders, hummingbird and bird gardens, or as an impenetrable hedge.