In today’s article we bring you everything you need to know about the care of donkey tail succulent, also known as Sedum morganianum or Sedum burrito.
The donkey tail is succulent species belonging to the Crassulaceae family and native to Mexico.
This species receives different common names depending on where it is found in the world, for example, sheep’s tail, donkey’s tail, gypsy braid, Indian braid, drunkard’s nose, among others.
For some people this species is ideal for beginners because it requires little care, while for others it can be a challenge to keep it alive. In this article we will tell you everything you need to know about this species to have it beautiful and last for many years.
- 1 Donkey Tail Plant Care
- 2 Donkey Tail Propagation
- 3 How to Transplant a Donkey Tail
- 4 Common Problems of the Donkey Tail Succulent
- 5 Is the Donkey Tail Plant Poisonous?
- 6 Is Your Donkey Tail Succulent Dying?
Donkey Tail Plant Care
Next, we are going to tell you everything about the care of the donkey tail succulent according to its lighting requirements, temperature, irrigation, substrate. Also, we will talk about fertilization, how to transplant the donkey’s tail, the most common problems with this species of succulents and, finally, how to reproduce the Sedum morganianum.
Although, as we have commented previously, it is a species that can survive perfectly without much care, it is worth explaining a series of basic cares that will help you with this succulent plant.
The donkey’s tail needs many hours of lighting, but not direct. When it receives several hours of direct sunlight, its leaves can turn yellow and even have brown or white sunburns. Ideally, place this species in semi-shade, under the protection of a roof, in the shade of a tree, or anywhere you have several hours of bright, indirect light a day.
Like several succulent species, if it does not receive sufficient lighting it tends to stretch (etiolate). You can tell if your plant lacks lighting if it is leaning toward the closest light source and increasing the space between its leaves.
The ideal temperature for this succulent is between 10 and 30°C (50 to 80°F). In the tropics they can be outdoors throughout the year, but in the hemispheres it is advisable to protect them from frost during the winter.
During the winter we put them indoors to protect them from the cold and excessive rain. If you decide to do the same, we recommend placing them in a bright place—it can be next to a window—and away from radiators, stoves or heating.
The donkey tail succulents enjoy a little more watering than other species. They need plenty of water for all their leaves to look full and for the plant to have a generally good appearance.
It should be watered abundantly every time the substrate dries completely. You can check if the substrate has completely dried by inserting your finger, a wooden stick or a moisture meter (we recommend a few here).
Keep in mind that large, mature plants, being longer, will need more watering to ensure that the entire plant is hydrated. On the other hand, considerably reduce watering during the winter.
The leaves of this plant will also tell you if they need more or less watering. If you notice that the leaves look wrinkled or even dry, it means they need more watering, so water it abundantly and you will see how it hydrates again in a couple of days.
On the contrary, if the leaves look yellow, translucent and begin to fall, it means that they have been watered excessively. If this happens, wait for the substrate to dry completely and increase the time between waterings.
Like the other succulent species, the donkey tail plant needs a substrate that does not compact, porous to allow aeration of the roots and with excellent drainage (here are some tips on how to make homemade substrate).
You can buy a mixture of substrate for cacti and succulents (see our recommendations here) or you can make your own substrate at home by following one of our recipes .
Keep in mind that if you plan to hang this succulent you will need to find a balance in the weight of the substrate. That it is not too heavy, but that it weighs enough so that the roots have a good grip and the pot does not tilt or fall.
Over time it is advisable to fertilize the donkey’s tail. You can use a commercial fertilizer (we recommend these) or make your own fertilizer recipes. For example, you can use egg shells or banana tea.
Remember that succulents do not enjoy being fertilized frequently and can even be damaged by over-fertilization. You should use fertilizers only during the growing season, when temperatures are warmer, and never fertilize in the winter.
Donkey Tail Propagation
If you like to reproduce your succulents we have excellent news for you : this is one of the easiest spices to multiply!
It reproduces very well by cutting or by leaf. Keep in mind that it is also a slow-growing species, so our recommendation is to always try to reproduce by cutting and take advantage of the fallen leaves to reproduce them as well.
How to Transplant a Donkey Tail
A donkey tail succulent will need to be transplanted as it grows so that it always has enough space and continues to grow. It should always be transplanted into a container or pot appropriate for the size, with drainage holes and use suitable substrate for succulents.
This species is not easy to handle and transplant. It is very delicate, it can break and its leaves fall easily when touched. In addition, it has farina that should not be removed. Therefore, transplanting should be performed only when necessary.
A small tip to avoid damage when transplanting is to stop watering the plant a few weeks before until its leaves look slightly wrinkled. This will make it more flexible and easy to handle when it comes to transplantation.
If some leaves fall during transplantation, you can take advantage of it to multiply your plant by following a few very simple steps.
Once it is transplanted, wait a couple of days more before watering it. Then you can resume the usual watering.
Common Problems of the Donkey Tail Succulent
These are some of the most common problems you can encounter when growing Sedum burrito:
- Mealybug and other pests: The sedum burrito, like other succulents, is prone to mealybugs, aphids and other undesirable pests.
- Yellow leaves: As we mentioned before, the plant can suffer from yellow leaves from overwatering or from sunburn.
- Rot: If excess watering is not treated in time, this leads to rotting of the roots. Ideally, this situation should never arise, but if you notice black stems and leaves, especially near the base and root zone, you will need to behead your burro’s tail.
- Etiolation: if you notice your plant stretched, lacking color, thin, weak stems and space between the leaves, it is surely etiolating. It needs more lighting, so you should place it in a place with better conditions.
Is the Donkey Tail Plant Poisonous?
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the donkey tail plant is “non-toxic to dogs, non-toxic to cats, and non-toxic to horses”. Although ingestion of significant amounts of the succulent may cause intestinal distress signal (vomiting, diarrhea) in animals. It is best to keep pets from eating these plants whenever possible.
According to North Carolina State University, sedum family plants have low toxicity if eaten. They may cause some gastrointestinal discomfort. Stems and leaves can be eaten raw with little danger, such as small tubers in spring.
While this particular type of sedum plant is not poisonous, handling its leaves without gloves can cause skin irritation.
Is Your Donkey Tail Succulent Dying?
If you think that your once-beautiful Sedum morganianum doesn’t look as healthy as it used to and is about to die, there are three signs you will see beforehand.
Donkey tail succulents can usually be recovered with early diagnosis.
The problem is usually overwatering or underwatering. Also sometimes, the plant can be disturbed by some pests and insects or by the hot sun. Let’s see how to save a dying Donkey tail.
1. Leaves turning yellow
Leaves that turn yellowish and transparent is an early sign of succulents that have been watered too much. After this stage, the leaves become soft and fall off very easily when touched or shaken.
In winter, the donkey tail does not need as much irrigation as in the other seasons. Many of them suffer from overwatering in winter because some of us do not know that they are inactive during this time.
Turn off the water if you see the leaves turn yellow and transparent, and wait for the plant to recover. Continue less frequent watering once the plant is fully healed.
2. Wrinkled leaves
The shrunk and wrinkled surface of donkey’s tail leaves tell us that it needs water. If these plants lack water for long, the leaves begin to completely dry out and fall off one by one.
Dried succulents will recover and come back to life quickly with good watering. They are forgiving for improper watering, even hating being overwatered.
3. Stained leaves
The black spots and dark markings on the leaves of a Sedum morganianum can be caused by the very hot afternoon sun.
During the summer, don’t leave your plant in direct sun for too long. Sunburn on the leaves is not possible to recover for succulents.
White spots on the leaves that look like tiny cotton balls are likely a pest infection called mealybugs. You can treat the plant by spraying some rubbing alcohol on the leaves and cleaning these white spots.
The donkey tail succulent is definitely a showstopper in a hanging pot. It looks perfect with the stems that hang dramatically over the side of a pot or shelf.
But watch out for the extraordinary foliage of donkey tails. The leaves of these succulents tend to fall off easily. However, I am sure you will love how they stay beautiful even if you neglect them.