Burro's Tail- Plant Bio: Podcast Ep#78
This succulent's distinctive structure, even though fragile, is reliable under the proper care. The hanging stems hold rows of jelly bean-like leaves that appear similar to a donkey's tail; therefore the name, Burro's Tail, was born!
Botanical Name: Sedum morganianum
Common Name: Burro's Tail, Donkey's Tail, Horse's Tail, Lamb's Tail
There is also a variety called "Burrito" that is said to have smaller leaves and shorter stems than the original Burro's Tail. Some sources also say the Burrito is technically called Burro's Tail,(while the original Burro's Tail should be called Donkey's Tail) but I am not finding that call-out by reliable sources. The reliable sources (books, university websites, etc) do acknowledge the variety "Burrito," itself but it is unknown if this is a cultivar, hybrid or a different species.
The jelly bean shaped leaves are greenish blue and hang down in long, thick strands. For a brand new growing plant, the stems start growing upright then quickly start drooping over the pot and hanging downward. The leaves start a bit smaller and rounded, but as the plant matures the leaves become longer and slightly more pointy. If they continue to be smaller and rounder as the plant matures it could be the variety "Burrito".
The Burro's Tail thrives until bright, direct light but can also be in bright, indirect light. If you aren't able to provide this much light for your plant, you may have slower, leggy growth.
If you need any guidance to understanding light, or are in need of a grow light to help increase your light, check out the links provided!
The Burro's Tail is a type of succulent that does not need a lot of water to thrive. Keep these plants under a low water regimen and it will continue to live a healthy life. Root rot is a common issue with Burro's Tail but giving it low moisture will help prevent this issue. If you aren't quite sure if you are providing too little (or too much water), I would highly recommend trying a Moisture Meter Reader. It is a great tool to measure the moisture until you understand the watering cadence needed for your conditions.
This plant does not need any extra humidity and can thrive in your standard household environment.
As I always say, there are LOTS of ways to fertilize plants. Unless you are extremely over-fertilizing your plant, there isn't necessarily a wrong way to do this. I currently use Fox Farm's Grow Big Liquid Fertilizer and I normally fertilize every 2 weeks when I water my plants, starting around the end of February through October. I honestly probably only fertilize once or twice in winter because the plant isn't as active! I use about 1/2 to 3/4 the recommended amount of fertilizer because I would rather under-fertilize than over-fertilize my plants.
Complete Houseplant Survival Manual: "From spring to late summer, feed monthly with an all-purpose balanced houseplant food. In fall and winter, do not feed."
There are MANY ways to fertilize and it is completely up to you! There are tons of products out there you can try but an overall rule of thumb for houseplants is that it is best to under-fertilize, rather than over-fertilize. Always use the recommended amount, or less, when applying your fertilizer to houseplants.
Propagation is actually quite easy for Burro's Tail! You can pull off the individual leaves and grow a brand new plant from the leaf. I claim that this is quite easy because I have been able to do it myself! I actually took a few leaves from a plant that dropped off and placed them at the top of a pot with well draining soil. I watered about once a week and put it under a bright grow light. After about a year, longer stems started to form, creating a new plant!
I believe increased watering attention would have sped up the growing process, but even with the conditions provided, I successfully grew a new Burro's Tail!
All part of the Crassulaceae family.
Native to parts of Mexico and South America
The length of the stems depend on your environment, but they can become almost infinitely long. Throughout different sources I've seen it listed between 1-4 ft long and that is within the lengths I've seen at different greenhouses and plant shops.
The Burro's Tail can flower if in the right conditions (and potentially) in your home as well. Usually the flowers are a small cluster of pink/red flowers on the end of the stems.
The Burro's Tail was given the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit in 1993.
Mealy bugs are the most common pest you may run into so keep an eye on your plant or you use preventative products to deter these pests from infesting. Check out Pests and Plants to learn how to treat that and for ways to prevent pests!
They are NOT toxic to pets. If you are interested in learning about more pet friendly plants, check out Podcast Ep#31 for more info or the corresponding blog post!
I asked followers if they had any specific plant questions I could address in this podcast and blog. Here are the questions and answers for the Burro's Tail...
"How to keep them from getting leggy"
This can be prevented by lots of light and very little movement. This plant drops leaves VERY easily so once you get this plant, try not to move it. If you have to, be very delicate. Providing bright, direct light will also minimize the space between each leaf that forms. If you plant is getting very leggy, you could cut back the plant a little bit to rejuvenate the growth as well. Any leaves you cut off, place those at the top of your soil and watch new stems grow too!
"Do they need humidity? Can they thrive in normal household humidity?"
No they do not! Since this is a succulent, they thrive in a dry, arid environment. Usually household humidity is just fine for any Burro's Tail.
"Best medium for propagating?"
I used a well draining soil which was a regular potting mix, combined with perlite. I know some plant experts recommend using different mediums for propagation but for succulents, a well draining soil is all you need!
"How to keep from bumping it & knocking all the leaves off! LOL But seriously, best soil/light requirements. I love these but have killed 2!"
I know this is so difficult and can be frustrating! There isn't a good way to prevent it besides trying to keep the plant's movement to a minimum and try not to reposition the plant as little as possible.
Best soil is a well-draining soil! I know that can be very vague, but I firmly believe you don't need anything special. I just use a Fox Farm potting soil mixed with additional perlite to make it even more well draining. Fox Farm is not necessary but I would make sure you see if your soil has fertilizer already within the mixture and make a mental note. I would avoid that if you could. If you don't want to mix soil, you could use a a cacti or succulent soil which already has more drainage properties.
The more light, the better! If you can provide direct sunlight, that is great but they will also do well in bright, indirect light.
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Love, Holly (Owner & Creator of Houseplant Homebody LLC)