May 20, 2011
May 23, 2011
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We were badly flooded during the last bad storm and the floodwater must have moved the roots of our ocotillo plant, which is very tall and must be quite old. Now the plant is listing badly and I fear it might fall over. Is there anything I can do to stop this from happening, it would be awful if this beautiful plant died.
Ocotillo should be supported by larger rocks instead of being staked. "To help prevent a newly transplanted ocotillo from falling over or blowing down in a storm, large stones may be placed over the root area instead of staking, which often scars the stems. Leave two to four inches space around the trunk. Some degree of growth set-back is to be expected.", from Wikipedia.
In all the years I've grown cactus and succulents, there have been plenty of times a speciman has needed some type support. In fact, most of my colllection has at least two or three rocks to hold it in place. I like using rocks instead of stakes simply because they are more natural looking.
To the best of my knowledge, ocotillo is not the kind of plant that responds well to pruning. If you cut the branches, you lose the flowers, and end up with tangled and unattractive growth, losing the qualities you originally planted it for. That being said, I believe you could cut branches off at ground level, if they get too long. According to reports, these plants get 6 - 10' tall in the garden, so if this is going to be way to big for your needs, you may want to move the ocotillo before it gets much bigger, and replace it with something that will mature to the size you want, rather than trying to force the ocotillo to stay small. This article discusses ocotillo, you might find it useful: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/cacti-succulents/ocotillo/ocotillo-plant.htm
My ocotillo looks like something is eating it layer by layer. We noticed a termite tube on the house about 2 feet away. Could this be the problem? Do the branches just normally split, exposing the under layers? Do you have a photos of what termites or other insects do to the plant? Lastly, once we have the house treated, will that solve the problem if they are attacking the plant?
It is possible for termites to attack live plants, although not common. Treating the house won't affect the plant - according to what I've read you should circle the plant with a liquid non-repellent termiticide to control.
A more likely culprit is the ocotillo borer.
These pests are opportunistic, meaning they chiefly attack plants that are stressed to begin with. Here's an article that has some ideas toward having a healthier ocotillo. https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/cacti-succulents/ocotillo/ocotillo-plant.htm
You can take some samples of your plant to the nearest extension service office; they'll be able to positively identify the problem, and give you control instructions. This link will help you find the nearest office:
Yes, they can easily be started from a cutting.
You will need to use a green cutting about 6 to 8" in length. Use rooting hormone on the end of the cutting to promote growth.
Place in a well draining pot with desert potting mix and water well every couple of weeks.
I have an ocotillo that has not put on leaves or flowers. It has been in the ground for almost 2 years. Is there something I can do to make it leaf out? The stems are green at the base, but some of them are more gray looking further up the stem.
My ocotillo shrub hasn’t had leaves for one year. Why? The plant has been in the ground for 3 years. It gets plenty of sun. Now and then there are flowers at the tips of the canes. I know it is alive. All of my neighbors’ ocotillos have leaves. It gets water once a month along with the other cactus. Does the shrub need more water or less?
I would increase watering.
Here is a link to refresh you on the care requirements.