My Ocotillo loved all the rain last week. The foliage looks so soft and touchable, just beware of the thorns hiding underneath.
The first time I ever saw Ocotillo was at a Hotel we stayed in on the way to Big Bend. The grounds were fenced in with a tall cactus that I fell in love with. I asked the Innkeeper about the cactus being used for a fence and were I might buy one. Her reply was that it was not a cactus, instead a desert plant to my surprise.
A couple of years ago I purchased one and at first I was a little leary about my purchase, due to the fact it looked dead when it arrived. I called the grower and he quickly educated me on Octotillo. He informed me that if a Ocotillo was dead it would be black, very black. Gray rigid spines indicate the plant is in a dormant state and will leaf out very quickly after a rain. Octotillo can drop and regain their leaves several times a year.
Proper planting of the Octotillo is very important for they like well drained soil. Mine is planted in a raised bed and has thrived. In Waco, were our soil is very heavy clay, it is recommended that you set the plant directly on the ground and build a berm around it. Until the plant is rooted, it is a good idea to place large rocks at the base to keep the plant from blowing over in high winds. Newly transplanted Octotillo's need irrigation to become established, but once established, they can survive on less than 8 inches of rainfall a year.
Early spring this year, mine bloomed for the very first time a beautiful red cluster of flowers at the very top. The seeds are produced in around late May and early June. I collected some and going to try my hand at trying to get them to germinate.
Octotillo plants are a little pricey due to the time it takes to start and grow, but well worth the investment.