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Burro's Tail Care 101: Expert Tips to Keep Your Plant Thriving


burro's tail care

Celebrating its unique beauty and resilience, the Burro's Tail plant is an exciting entry into the world of houseplants. Native to Mexico and Honduras, Burro's Tail, with its drooping stems and plump leaves, has been steadily garnering attention from plant lovers worldwide.


Renowned for their durability and low-maintenance care requirements, Burro's Tails thrive in various light conditions and require less frequent watering than most houseplants. This makes them an excellent choice for indoor gardening, particularly for those who appreciate interesting textures and easy-care routines.


Their charm extends beyond their visually appealing cascading form. Burro's Tail plants are known for their drought tolerance, allowing them to withstand periods of neglect that would be detrimental to most other houseplants. This quality, combined with their striking aesthetics, makes them a favorite amongst both novice and seasoned plant caregivers.


What's more, Burro's Tails are known to purify indoor air, contributing to a healthier living environment. This benefit, alongside their impressive hardiness, further enhances their appeal in the indoor gardening community.


Whether you're an experienced plant caregiver or a beginner embarking on your indoor gardening journey, this guide will provide comprehensive insight into Burro's Tail care. Together, we will navigate each step, ensuring you are well-equipped with the knowledge needed to help your Burro's Tail thrive.

 

Burro's Tail Care Overview

​Common Names

​Donkey's Tail or Horse's Tail

Scientific Name

Sedum morganianum

Family

Crassulaceae

Height

Up to 3 feet (90 cm) long

Light

Bright, indirect light for at least six hours a day

Soil

A mix of cactus soil and perlite or pumice

Watering

Once a week or less

Pests & Diseases

Mealybugs, spider mites, and root rot

Streamlining Burro's Tail Care: Essential Guidelines


1. Adaptable by nature, Burro's Tail thrives under bright, indirect light and prefers temperatures ranging from 65-75°F. Too much direct sunlight can cause leaf scorch, while temperatures below the recommended range may lead to poor growth.


2. Known for their drought tolerance, Burro's Tails generally require watering every 3-4 weeks, depending on your local climate and humidity levels. In drier environments, you may need to water more frequently.


3. Burro's Tail demands a well-draining soil mix to prevent water retention and subsequent root rot. A mixture of succulent or cactus soil with added perlite or coarse sand can offer the right balance of moisture retention and drainage.


4. While not a compulsory task, fertilizing your Burro's Tail once or twice during its active growing season (spring and summer) can stimulate healthier growth. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half the recommended strength.


5. Accommodate the plant's growth by repotting every 3-4 years. Repotting is typically necessary when the plant has outgrown its container or when the soil has lost its nutrient content.


6. Burro's Tail offers straightforward propagation methods. You can multiply your plant collection through leaf or stem cuttings. Ensure each cutting has a few leaves and is allowed to callous over before planting.


7. Pruning is not usually necessary for a Burro's Tail. However, if you want to maintain a particular size or shape, or if you notice any dead or discolored leaves, feel free to prune as needed. Remember to use clean, sharp tools to avoid causing unnecessary stress to the plant.


 


Burro's Tail care


Expounding on Light & Temperature Requirements for Burro's Tail Care


In terms of light, Burro's Tail plants demand a substantial amount of bright but indirect sunlight. They are natural residents of arid, sun-drenched landscapes, hence their high light requirements. However, unfiltered, direct sunlight, particularly during peak afternoon hours, can cause sunburn to the leaves, leading to discoloration or scorch marks. If you notice signs of leaf burn, consider adjusting the light source or using a sheer curtain to diffuse the light intensity.


An optimal spot for your Burro's Tail could be a south or west-facing window that receives plenty of sunlight throughout the day. If such a location isn't available, supplemental lighting through grow lights can also be an effective alternative.


Regarding temperature, Burro's Tail thrives in moderate to warm conditions, with ideal temperatures ranging between 60-75°F (15-24°C). As succulents, they are not cold-hardy and can suffer from leaf damage or root rot under cold or frosty conditions. Consequently, it is imperative to position your plant away from drafty windows, doors, or air-conditioning units where sudden temperature drops may occur.


On the contrary, Burro's Tails can tolerate higher temperatures, particularly if the air is not overly dry. Nevertheless, a drastic rise in temperature can stress the plant, so it's best to strive for a stable, warm environment, emulating their natural habitat for optimal growth. If you live in a region with cold winters, ensure your Burro's Tail is brought indoors before the first frost hits.




Deep Dive into Water & Humidity Requirements for Burro's Tail Care


As a succulent species, the Burro's Tail plant has adapted to survive in arid conditions where water is scarce. This adaptation reflects in its watering needs; it prefers periods of drought between waterings rather than a constant moist environment. A good rule of thumb to follow is to wait until the soil is thoroughly dry before watering your plant again. This can usually be checked by inserting your finger into the soil; if it feels dry up to the first knuckle, it's time to water.


Overwatering is a common mistake in Burro's Tail care and can lead to issues such as root rot, a potentially fatal condition. Always err on the side of underwatering as opposed to overwatering. If you are unsure, wait a little longer before watering; your Burro's Tail would prefer this than being overwatered.


During winter months, when the plant is in its dormancy phase, its water needs decrease. Watering should be scaled back significantly, with longer intervals between each watering session. It's advisable to let the soil dry out completely, and then some, before the next watering.


In terms of humidity, Burro's Tail plants are quite resilient and can handle a broad range of humidity levels. They are native to dry environments and do not require high humidity to thrive. Contrarily, excessively humid conditions can promote fungal growth and other problems.


However, an occasional misting won't harm your plant and can help keep its plump leaves hydrated, particularly in dry, heated indoor environments. Always aim to mist in the morning, allowing the water to evaporate throughout the day, and avoid drenching the plant, as this can increase the risk of fungal diseases.




Expounding Soil Preferences for Burro's Tail Care


The choice of soil is a crucial aspect of successful Burro's Tail care. As a succulent, this plant has specific soil requirements that enable it to thrive. It favors a well-draining soil mix, which mimics its native environment's dry, sandy conditions. A soil that retains too much moisture can cause the roots to remain wet for too long, leading to waterlogged conditions and potentially resulting in root rot, a condition detrimental to the plant's health.


A commercial cactus or succulent soil mix is often an excellent choice for Burro's Tail, as these blends are formulated to provide quick drainage. These mixes are typically composed of coarse sand or perlite, peat moss, and compost or other organic matter, providing the necessary drainage while still offering essential nutrients for the plant.


For even better drainage, consider adding some extra perlite, coarse sand, or small pebbles to the mix. This addition can enhance the soil structure, promoting better air circulation around the roots and faster water drainage.


It's equally important to ensure your chosen pot has adequate drainage holes. These holes allow excess water to escape, reducing the risk of waterlogging and root rot. Regardless of how well-draining your soil mix is, without proper drainage holes in your pot, water could still accumulate at the bottom, causing the same issues. So, the combination of well-draining soil and a pot with sufficient drainage holes is essential for the health and longevity of your Burro's Tail plant.




Fertilization Practices for Burro's Tail Care


While Burro's Tail, as a succulent, is adapted to survive in nutrient-sparse environments, occasional fertilization can contribute to its optimal growth and vibrant appearance. Fertilization is especially beneficial during the plant's active growing period, typically spanning the warmer spring and summer months.


Although it doesn't demand frequent fertilizing, supplying the Burro's Tail with a dose of nutrients every two to three months throughout this period can boost its overall growth and well-being. This schedule provides a consistent nutrient supply that supports the plant's increased metabolic activities during its growth phase.


It's important to select the right type of fertilizer for your Burro's Tail. A balanced, water-soluble fertilizer – one that contains equal proportions of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) – is generally a good option. These macronutrients play a pivotal role in plant health; Nitrogen promotes lush foliage growth, Phosphorus supports root development and flowering, and Potassium aids in overall plant vigor and disease resistance.


However, succulents like Burro's Tail can be sensitive to high nutrient concentrations. To avoid potential nutrient burn or damage to the roots, it's recommended to dilute the fertilizer to half of the manufacturer's suggested strength. This reduced concentration ensures your plant receives the necessary nutrients without overwhelming it.


Before applying the fertilizer, make sure the soil is damp to avoid direct contact between the fertilizer and the roots, which could lead to root burn. Also, remember to halt fertilizing during the fall and winter months when the plant enters dormancy, as the plant's metabolic activities slow down and it requires fewer nutrients. Resuming the fertilization schedule in the next growth cycle will help your Burro's Tail maintain healthy, steady growth.



Repotting Practices for Burro's Tail Care


While many houseplants benefit from periodic repotting to accommodate their growing root system, the Burro's Tail succulent is unique in its preference for a more confined environment. Its propensity to be "root-bound" – where the roots fill the pot almost completely – arises from its native habitat, where it thrives in rocky crevices with limited soil.


Though your Burro's Tail enjoys this snug setup, repotting becomes necessary when the roots have expanded to the extent that they start outgrowing the pot, which could interfere with the plant's health and growth. At this point, it's important to select a new container that's only one size larger than the current one. This is because a too-large pot has more soil that retains moisture longer, and this could potentially lead to overwatering, a condition that Burro's Tail, being a succulent, is particularly sensitive to.


When it comes to the repotting process, begin by gently removing the plant from its existing pot. It's advisable to water the plant a day or two before repotting to make this extraction easier and less stressful for the plant. Next, inspect the roots for any signs of disease or pest infestation and trim away any unhealthy parts.


The choice of potting mix for your Burro's Tail is crucial. Given the plant's susceptibility to root rot, a well-draining soil mixture that mimics its natural rocky habitat is essential. Consider using a cactus or succulent mix, known for their excellent drainage characteristics. If you wish to further enhance the drainage capacity, you can add a bit of coarse sand or perlite to the mix.


Once the plant is comfortably situated in its new pot with fresh soil, resist the urge to water immediately. Allow it to acclimate to its new environment for a few days, then resume your regular watering schedule. This repotting approach will ensure that your Burro's Tail continues to grow and thrive in its new home.



Burro's Tail Propagation


The Burro's Tail succulent is unique not just for its attractive, trailing aesthetic, but also for the ease with which it can be propagated. Propagation through stem cuttings is a simple and rewarding method to multiply your Burro's Tail collection or to share it with fellow plant enthusiasts.


Here's a step-by-step guide to effective Burro's Tail propagation:


Choosing and Cutting the Stem: The first step in successful propagation involves selecting a healthy stem. Opt for a robust, plump stem around 4-5 inches in length. The healthier the parent stem, the better the chances of successful propagation. Using a clean, sharp tool, make a clean cut to remove the stem from the main plant. The cleanliness of the cut can have a significant impact on the success of your propagation attempt, as it can reduce the risk of disease transmission.


Preparing the Stem: Once you have your cutting, allow it to sit in a dry, warm, and shaded place for a couple of days. This step, known as 'callusing,' lets the cutting form a protective barrier over the cut end, which helps prevent rot when it's eventually planted.


Planting the Cutting: After the callus has formed, it's time to plant the cutting. Use a well-draining succulent or cactus mix, replicating the natural environment of the Burro's Tail. Bury the callused end about an inch into the soil. Make sure to choose a pot with drainage holes to prevent water retention and subsequent root rot.


Caring for the Cutting: Burro's Tail cuttings need only minimal watering to initiate root growth. Water sparingly, just enough to moisten the soil, and then let it dry out completely before the next watering. Overwatering at this stage can cause the cutting to rot before it has a chance to root.


Observing Growth: After a few weeks, you should start to see signs of new growth, indicating successful rooting. It might be tempting to tug at the stem to check if roots have formed, but resist the temptation as it can damage the tender new roots. Patience is key here.


Propagation is a fascinating aspect of plant care, allowing you to nurture new life from an existing plant. Armed with these steps, propagating your Burro's Tail should be an enriching and rewarding experience.



Burro's Tail Pruning Techniques


While the Burro's Tail succulent is quite low-maintenance and does not necessitate regular pruning, certain scenarios might call for occasional trimming. Pruning can be advantageous for controlling the plant's size, enhancing its appearance, or encouraging a fuller, bushier growth habit.


Below are detailed steps to guide you in pruning your Burro's Tail:

Determining the Need for Pruning: Before initiating any pruning, assess the plant thoroughly. Does it seem excessively long or unbalanced? Are there any signs of disease or pest-infestation that need to be addressed? Is the plant becoming too crowded and needs thinning for better air circulation? If the answer is 'yes' to any of these questions, it might be time for a trim.


Choosing the Right Tools: Always use a clean, sharp tool for pruning to minimize damage to the plant and prevent the spread of diseases. Scissors or pruning shears, sterilized beforehand, can work well for Burro's Tail.


Pinching Back for Bushier Growth: If your goal is to encourage bushier growth, consider pinching back the stem tips. Pinching back means removing the very end of the stem, which stimulates the plant to branch out at that point. This can result in a fuller and more robust plant over time.


Managing Plant Size: If your Burro's Tail has grown excessively long and needs size control, identify the points where you want to shorten the stems and make a clean cut. Ensure not to remove more than one-third of the plant's total size at once to prevent undue stress to the plant.


Dealing with Damage: Pruning is also an effective way to remove any damaged or diseased parts of the plant. If you notice any segments that appear rotten, discolored, or infested with pests, trim these parts away to prevent the issue from spreading to the rest of the plant.


Post-Pruning Care: After pruning, give your plant some time to recover before resuming its regular watering schedule. Avoid watering immediately after pruning as the cut parts need some time to callous over.


Remember, while pruning can be helpful, overdoing it might stress the plant. Therefore, it's essential to prune judiciously, keeping the plant's overall health and well-being in mind. And don't forget, any healthy cuttings can be used for propagation, giving you new plants to enjoy or share with others!




 

Tackling Challenges in Burro's Tail Care: A Comprehensive Troubleshooting Guide


Although the Burro's Tail succulent is renowned for its resilience and low-maintenance requirements, there are instances where it may encounter issues. It's crucial to understand these potential problems and arm yourself with appropriate solutions, ensuring the health and longevity of your plant.


Root and Stem Rot


Overwatering and poor drainage are the two most common causes leading to root and stem rot. If the leaves of your Burro's Tail are turning yellow, becoming mushy, or if the stem feels soft and squishy, it's indicative of rot setting in.


Here's how to salvage a plant suffering from root or stem rot:


Halt Watering: Cease watering the plant immediately, allowing the soil to dry out thoroughly. This pause can help mitigate further damage to the plant's roots or stems.


Assess the Damage: Unpot the plant and carefully inspect its roots. If you find them brown, mushy, or giving off a foul smell, it signifies severe root rot.


Trim Damaged Parts: Using sterilized scissors or pruning shears, remove the rotten roots or stem parts. Ensure to trim a little beyond the rot to make sure no diseased tissue remains.


Repot: After pruning the damaged parts, repot the plant in a clean pot with fresh, well-draining soil. Ensure the pot has adequate drainage holes to prevent waterlogging in the future.


Post-recovery Care: Give the plant some time to recover before resuming watering. Always check the soil's dryness before each watering to avoid recurrence of the problem.


Leaf Drop


Leaf drop can be a common issue with Burro's Tail, primarily due to exposure to cold temperatures or low humidity.


Temperature-induced Leaf Drop: If you notice leaves falling off due to cold temperatures, relocate your plant to a warmer area, ensuring it's within the ideal range of 60-75°F.


Humidity-induced Leaf Drop: If the problem is low humidity, slightly increase the ambient humidity around the plant. While Burro's Tail prefers dry air, extreme dryness can stress the plant. Misting can be beneficial, or place a tray of water nearby to gently increase humidity. Avoid creating a high humidity environment, as it can promote fungal growth.


Remember, the key to a thriving Burro's Tail plant is striking the right balance in its care requirements. By staying vigilant, promptly identifying problems, and addressing them, you can ensure your succulent remains healthy and vibrant.



Managing Pests in Burro's Tail: A Thorough Approach


While Burro's Tail succulents are generally pest-resistant, they aren't entirely immune to infestations. Certain pests, such as mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects, can pose a threat to the health of your Burro's Tail. Here's how you can identify these pests and the steps to take to eliminate them:


Mealybugs

Recognizable by their small size and white, cotton-like appearance, mealybugs pose a significant threat as they feed on the plant's sap and excrete a sticky substance called honeydew. If left unchecked, they can cause the leaves to yellow and eventually fall off.


Spider Mites

Spider mites are microscopic pests that are usually identified by the yellowing, speckling, or bronzing on the plant's leaves. Another tell-tale sign is the presence of thin, silk-like webs spun between the leaves.


Scale Insects

Scale insects are tiny, oval-shaped pests that latch onto the leaves and stems, extracting the plant's sap. Heavy infestations can lead to yellowing or dropping of leaves and reduced plant vigor.


Eradicating Pests


In case you detect a pest infestation, here are the steps to eliminate them effectively:


Insecticidal Soap or Neem Oil: Both are natural options that can disrupt the life cycle of the pests. Spray the entire plant, paying particular attention to the undersides of the leaves where pests often hide. Remember to test the solution on a small part of the plant first to ensure it doesn't react adversely.


Severe Infestations: For more substantial pest problems, a stronger pesticide may be necessary. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions when using these products, and consider isolating the plant during treatment to prevent pest spread.


Manual Removal: For visible pests such as mealybugs and scale insects, consider manually removing them using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.


Routine Checkups: Regular inspections of your plant can help detect early signs of infestation, making pest management more manageable.


Keep in mind, maintaining a healthy plant is the best defense against pests. Strong, vigorous plants are less likely to succumb to pest attacks and can recover faster if they do get infested. Remember to always handle your plant with clean hands and tools to prevent the introduction and spread of pests.




Diseases in Burro's Tail: A Comprehensive Guide


Burro's Tail, while generally robust, can be prone to certain fungal diseases, notably powdery mildew and leaf spot. The impact of these diseases can be mitigated through prevention and timely intervention. Here's how to identify these diseases and the appropriate steps to manage them:


Powdery Mildew

This fungal disease manifests as a white or gray powdery substance on the leaves. While it may not directly kill the plant, powdery mildew can weaken it, making it susceptible to other issues.


Leaf Spot

Leaf spot, another fungal disease, is characterized by brown or black spots on the leaves. If left untreated, these spots can enlarge, causing the leaves to yellow and drop off.


Prevention and Management


Proper Ventilation: A critical measure to prevent these diseases is ensuring good air circulation around your Burro's Tail. A well-ventilated environment helps to prevent the conditions that fungi thrive in, reducing the likelihood of disease occurrence.


Watering Practices: When watering, aim for the soil rather than the leaves to avoid creating a moist environment that fungi favor. Damp foliage can encourage fungal growth and facilitate the spread of diseases.


Disease Management: Should you spot signs of disease, promptly remove the affected leaves to prevent its spread. Make sure to sterilize your tools before and after removal to avoid cross-contamination.


Fungicide Application: Post leaf removal, treat your Burro's Tail with an appropriate fungicide. Follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding application and dosage. It's advisable to isolate the plant during treatment to protect others from potential infection.


Health Monitoring: Keep a close eye on your plant after treatment. If the disease symptoms persist or worsen, you may need to consult a plant health professional or local extension service for further advice.


Remember, while fungicides can be effective, they should be used as a last resort due to their potential impact on beneficial microbes and insects. Prioritizing preventive measures such as appropriate watering and ventilation practices is the best approach to maintain the health of your Burro's Tail.


 

Frequently Asked Questions


How much sun does a burro's tail need?

Burro's tail plants prefer bright, indirect light and can also tolerate some direct sun. However, they can be sensitive to intense, direct sunlight, especially in the hottest part of the day, and may develop sunburned spots or drop leaves.


It's generally best to provide them with bright, filtered light, such as that provided by a sheer curtain or a few feet away from a sunny window.


Can burro's tail survive winter?

Burro's Tail is a type of succulent that is native to Mexico, and it is sensitive to frost and freezing temperatures. In colder climates, it is often grown as a houseplant, where it can be protected from the cold. If you want to keep your Burro's Tail outside during the winter, it's best to bring it indoors or provide it with frost protection.


How do you make a burro's tail fuller?

To make a burro's tail fuller, you can take stem cuttings and propagate them to create a fuller plant. Here are the steps you can follow:


1. Locate a healthy stem of the burro's tail that has several leaves attached.


2. Cut the stem at a point where it is at least 3 inches long.


3. Remove the leaves from the bottom 1-2 inches of the stem, leaving only the topmost leaves intact.


4. Allow the stem to dry for a few hours or overnight, until the cut end has formed a callus.


5. Fill a pot with well-draining cactus or succulent soil, and make a small hole in the center.


6. Insert the cut end of the stem into the soil, making sure it is secure.


7. Water the cutting sparingly, just enough to moisten the soil, and then let it dry out completely before watering again.


8. Place the pot in a location with bright, indirect light.


9. Wait a few weeks to a few months for the cutting to grow roots and produce new leaves, at which point it can be transplanted to a larger pot with other burro's tail cuttings to create a fuller plant.


Regular pruning can also help create a fuller burro's tail plant. Pinch off the tips of the stems to encourage branching, and remove any dead or yellowing leaves.


When should I repot my burro's tail?

Burro's tail can be repotted every 2-3 years or when it has outgrown its current pot. It's best to repot during the active growing season in spring or early summer.


When repotting, choose a pot that is only slightly larger than the current one and use a well-draining potting mix. Avoid overwatering the plant after repotting and give it some time to adjust to its new environment.


 

Summary


Burro's Tail is a firm favorite among succulent enthusiasts, adored for its captivating trailing growth and modest care demands. To help your Burro's Tail thrive, follow these fundamental care pointers:


Light and Temperature: These succulents flourish in bright, indirect light. Keep them in temperatures ranging between 60-75°F and ensure to keep them away from harsh direct sunlight, which can damage their foliage.


Watering and Humidity: As a succulent, Burro's Tail has low water needs. Allow the soil to completely dry out between watering to prevent over-saturation, and reduce watering during the winter months. Despite their preference for dry air, occasional misting can benefit the plant by preventing leaf shrivel.


Soil and Fertilizer: Choose a well-draining soil mix, ideally formulated for cacti or succulents. Apply a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half-strength once every 2-3 months during the growing season for optimal health.


Repotting and Propagation: Burro's Tail prefers being root-bound, necessitating repotting only when roots begin to outgrow the container. Propagate from stem cuttings to grow your succulent collection effortlessly.


Pruning: While Burro's Tail doesn't require extensive pruning, you can pinch back stem tips for shaping and promoting bushier growth.


Troubleshooting: Watch out for common issues such as root and stem rot or leaf drop, which can be managed by adjusting care conditions. Stay vigilant for pests or diseases, acting swiftly to prevent further damage and spread.


Caring for your Burro's Tail is an ongoing commitment rather than a one-time task. Embrace the journey, be patient, and follow these guidelines, and your Burro's Tail will not just survive but will enrich your space with its unique, cascading beauty. Let the joys of succulent care inspire you as you nurture your Burro's Tail to flourishing health!



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