Propagating Ocotillo Plants – How To Propagate Ocotillo Plants
Native to the American Southwest, ocotillo is a distinctive desert plant marked by graceful, thorny, wand-like branches that extend upward from the base of the plant. Gardeners love ocotillo for its beauty and resiliency, and hummingbirds are drawn by the red-hot blooms and sweet nectar.
The good news is that ocotillo propagation is surprisingly easy, but the bad news is that rooting seems to be rather hit or miss. If you’re interested in giving it a try, read on to learn the basics of propagating ocotillo plants for your garden.
When to Propagate Ocotillo
When it comes to propagating, ocotillo plants tend to be somewhat unpredictable and success tends to be hit and miss. You can try to start a new plant any time of year, but in the desert climate, the best time is during the winter rainy season when the extra moisture and cooler temperatures provide better rooting conditions.
How to Propagate Ocotillo by Cuttings
There are a couple of ways to go about propagating ocotillo plants with cuttings – either in the ground or using containers. Let’s start with the easiest method first.
In the Ground: Traditionally, propagating ocotillo has involved simply sticking wands in the ground. This technique generally has a pretty good success rate. If you want to give it a try, just cut several wands when they’re flexible and not stiff or hard. Gather them up in a bunch and wrap the bunch with twine or wire to make it easier to handle.
Dig a hole at least 4 to 6 inches deep (10-15 cm.), then plant the bundle in the hole. Pack the soil firmly around the wands and stake it to help it stand upright. Water well, but don’t amend the soil even if it’s poor and don’t add fertilizer. Sit back and wait, as rooting can take months.
Using a container: You can also plant ocotillo wands in a heavy pot filled with a sandy potting mix. Be sure the pot has at least one drainage hole. Strip the leaves off the bottom section that will be in the soil to prevent rotting, and lop a few inches (2.5 cm.) off the top if the wands are too tall to stand upright.
Put the pot in a sunny place and keep the soil slightly moist until new growth appears, which indicates the cuttings have rooted. Thereafter, water every couple of weeks during the first spring and summer, then cut back to a monthly irrigation in fall and winter. After the first year, ocotillo rarely needs water, although an occasional drink is beneficial during the hottest time of year.
How Do I Propagate an Ocotillo by Seed?
Again, there are a couple of ways to accomplish propagation by seed. The simplest is to simply plant the seeds directly in the ground in a sunny, well-drained spot, and that’s basically all there is to it.
Planting seeds in a container requires a bit more attention:
Plant the seeds about an inch deep (2.5 cm.) in a pot filled with a sandy, well-drained potting mix. Place the pot on a propagation mat set to 95 F. (35 C.) during the day and 70 F. (21 C.) at night. Be sure the pot is exposed to plenty of bright light all day.
Water as needed to keep the top one inch (2.5 cm.) of the potting mix slightly moist. Watch for the seeds to sprout within a couple of weeks. Once that happens, leave the pot on the warm mat for a couple of weeks, then move the pot outside into the bright sunlight.
The new ocotillo plant is mature enough to plant in the ground once it develops spines.
4 Ways to Propagate Succulents
Growing new succulents from the ones that you already have is a relatively simple and straightforward process however, some genus are a bit harder to successful propagate than others.
There are four main ways to propagate these hearty plants:
- With leaf cuttings
- With the offsets
- With stem cuttings
- Using the seeds from a mature plant
If you’re interested in giving this (usually) simple way of acquiring new succulents a try, read on to find out what you need to do to propagate succulents using each of the above-mentioned methods.
How to Propagate Ocotillo Plant
Fouquieria splendens plant is propagated through softwood cuttings in the summer.
- To do this, cut 6” to 8” inches long pieces from the top of the stems from the last season’s growth.
- Use a sharp knife to take cuttings.
- Make sure the stems are still soft and bendable and are not affected by any pest or disease.
- Remove the leaves from the base of the cuttings, from about 3” to 4” inches area, and then treat the cut ends with a rooting hormone.
- Now plant the cuttings in pots filled with a mixture of equal amounts of perlite and cactus soil mix.
- Soak the pots in water make sure it is at room temperature.
- Once soaked, take out the pots, place them on water-collecting dishes, and then keep them in a sunny location.
- Keep watering the cuttings once every two weeks till early fall.
- Reduce the watering to once a month in winters.
- Resume to the regular watering i.e. once in two weeks, in the spring.
- Continue to take care of the new plants until they develop root systems.
- While ocotillo plants are easily grown from softwood cuttings, they take several years to branch as much as they do in their natural habitat.