[AG] Transplanting Ocotillos

Linda A. Guy laguy2@primenet.com
Wed, 22 Mar 2000 18:02:25 -0700

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I asked Mary Irish, former director of public horticulture at the Desert
Botanical Gardens to respond to your recent question, which, quite
frankly, made me feel like a not so master gardener as I am having
similar difficulties with my ocotillo! Attached is her response.

Linda Guy

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Date: Tue, 21 Mar 2000 15:32:08 -0700
From: Mary Irish <saz621@primenet.com>
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To: "Linda A. Guy" <laguy2@primenet.com>
Subject: Re: [Fwd: [AG] Question from Home-Hort WWW page]
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I am sorry I  missed it the first time around, but here goes.
Ocotillo are generally sold here with a very small root ball on a relatively large plant. This means that they must be well cared for
in order to regrow and establish an adequate root system to support the plant. Here are my suggestions for a successful ocotillo
Do not plant it below the original soil line.
Water an area around the plant, or create a small well/basin so that you can provide water slowly and deeply to an area around the
entire plant. To begin with it can be only 12-18 in in radius, it will need to be larger later on.
Water the plant thoroughly after it is planted. If the weather is warm, water again in 10 days and about that often through the entire
summer. If it is hot when it is planted water thoroughly when planted, then every week for about a month and out to evert 10 days for
the rest of the warm season. In cooler weather (fall and winter) intermittent deep soaks will be sufficient. You may need to continue
the more aggressive watering of the first summer through the second summer depending on how well the plant is established.
While watering or spraying the whole plant is satisfying and delightful, it does nothing to help the plant. They only take up water and
nutrients through their roots.
Ocotillo take a long time to recover from transplant and it can be up to two years before the plant will set out leaves. If the canes
are pliable and there is green visible at the base of the thorns, the plant is fine, just keep providing water and it will keep growing
You can consider an ocotillo to be well established when it readily produces leaves after a rain of more than .5 in and it blooms a
couple of times. Once well established, an ocotillo only needs a good deep soak about once a month in summer (although they easily take
more) and less in the winter (none if it rains regularly).

> Mary,
> We received this question last week. I know from experience that we MG
> volunteers who normally respond to the arid_gardener server don't have
> alot of background with cactus and succulents. Plus I'm having the very
> same problem with my own ocotillos! Would you be able to answer this
> question for us and post it to the server?
> Many thanks in advance.
> Linda Guy, MG
>   ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Subject: [AG] Question from Home-Hort WWW page
> Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2000 08:17:43 -0700 (MST)
> From: simm@nexusenergy.com
> To: <arid_gardener@Ag.Arizona.Edu>
> arid_gardener
> We have recently had our landscaper replace 3 ocotillo plants.  The three last ones were planted for one year and never greened up.
> How should they be cared for?  Should they be watered?  Is there anything we can do so that we don't have to wait another year?
> Thanks
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