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FOUQUIERIA splendens

Image of Fouquieria splendens

Maureen Gilmer

Family

Fouquieriaceae

Botanical Name

FOUQUIERIA splendens

Plant Common Name

Ocotillo

General Description

Spectacular in flower and architectural at all seasons, this native of the low elevations of the Colorado and Sonoran deserts of the Southwest United States and Northwest New Mexico is also valued for its tolerance of drought and searing heat. Its numerous stiff, thorny, curving stems form a flowing vase-shaped clump that eventually reaches considerable height. Long conical clusters of showy red or orange flowers occur at the stem tips in winter or spring, attracting hummingbirds. Flowering may occur at other times following rains. Tan seed capsules follow the flowers, splitting open to release winged seeds. Small, fleshy, oval leaves appear along the stems after rains and drop during dry spells. Gardeners in the Southwest United States often wash down their plants during drought to encourage new leaves to grow.

This starkly beautiful shrub needs well-drained soil and hot relatively dry summers. It is an important component of gardens in the Southwest United States, functioning as a hedging or feature plant, and looking especially striking when outlined against a wall.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 8

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    10, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    8'-25' / 2.4m - 7.6m

  • Width

    5'-15' / 1.5m - 4.6m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring, Late Spring, Late Winter, Indeterminate

  • Native To

    Southwestern United States, California, Texas, Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Arching/Fountain-shaped

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Red, Orange

  • Fruit Color

    Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green

  • Bark Color

    Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Fissured

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Foundation, Hedges, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds

  • Self-Sowing

    No