Burro’s Tail Plant – How To Grow and Propagate


Jean Carr, from Vallarta Botanical Garden

Burro’s tail plant is an eye-catching, high-impact, low-maintenance plant that works well in both indoor and outdoor hanging pots. Its beauty is breathtaking when grown properly. Burros’ tail is a low-maintenance plant that requires little care. In most of North America, it is grown in hanging pots as a prized houseplant. It may also be utilised as a ground cover in zones 9 and above. It needs to be grown in a dry, well-drained location, such as rock gardens.

Related: Growing Succulent Plants Outdoors

Quick Growing Guide

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Botanical Name: Sedum morganianum

Also Called: Donkey tail, Lamb’s tail, Monkey tail, Horse’s tailc

En français: Queue de burro

See More Plants in this Botanical Family:

Sun / Shade:

Water: Keep moderately moist

Hardiness Zones:

Sedum morganianum is native to Mexico and is one of approximately 600 species in the genus, Sedum, which is a member of the Crassulaceae (stonecrop) family. [source] These small, succulent plants native to most parts of the Northern Hemisphere, are popular as both landscape and container plants.

What Does Burro’s Tail Look Like?

Sedum morganianum has long, pendulous, densely leafed stems that resemble a donkey’s tail, whcih inspired its popular name, Burro’s Tail. Note tha it is not a cactus as some believe. Healthy, mature plants may generate a huge number of donkey tails up to three or four feet long!

If you don’t have place for a plant with up to a hundred four-foot-long tails, Baby Donkey Tail is a smaller variant of the plant (Sedum burrito). This is a dwarf variant of the original, growing to roughly half the size. The leaves are between a quarter and a half inch long, and the tails can grow up to a foot and a half long.

On the other end of the spectrum, you could choose Giant Burro’s Tail (Sedeveria), which is a cross between Burro’s Tail (Sedum. morganianum) and the Mexican Hen and Chicks (Echeveria) plant. This plant has very large, pointed leaves. It grows both hanging tails and upright stalks.

These plants seldom produce flowers, and when they do, they are small, star-shaped and unscented in shades of pink and red. [source] The real drawing card for this plant is its plump, interesting leaves. These hang from the stem in an overlapping pattern to create the “tail” illusion. Leaves are pale green and dusted with a waxy, pale blue powder. When you handle the plant, this powder rubs off, but fear not, it will develop again shortly.

What Is The Best Use Of Burro’s Tail?

Burros Tail in a white hanging basket indoor
Burros Tail

All varieties of the burro’s tail succulent are suitable for sunny settings. These resilient plants thrive in interior home container gardens, whether in a sunny window, on a balcony, on a patio, or near your pool. Smaller varieties (sedum burrito) form attractive hanging baskets, with their “tails” draping over the edge.

How To Grow And Care For The Burro’s Tail

One of the best ways to explain care for a Burro’s tail succulent is “plant for the negligent plant lover.” They can grow pretty happily in sandy soil with a little early light.

How fast does the “Burro’s Tail” Tail Grow?

In ideal conditions, it matures in around 5 or 6 years and can survive for up to 10 years. Burrow’s tail will grow 20 to 25cm (8 to 10 inches) every year for the next 5 or 6 years, eventually reaching a length of 4 feet or 130cm.

Burro’s Tail Light Requirements

These plants love very bright light with a minimum of four hours daily. Some who grow the donkey tail recommend direct sun but I’ve noticed the plants become “yellow” when grown in the blazing full sun in summer.

What Temperature Does The Donkey Tail Like?

In tropical climates hardiness zones 9-11, Burro’s Tail can stay outdoors year-round. In areas where it freezes in winter, bring this succulent plant indoors during the winter months. Wintertime temperatures should be between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. During the growing season, comfortable room temperature or warmer is fine.

Watering: How Often To Water Burro’s Tail

Unlike many succulents, these plants need quite a bit of water to keep the many leaves plump and attractive. Water deeply and regularly throughout the growing season. You should give the plant a very thorough watering and then wait for the soil to dry before watering again.

Be sure to check the soil often. Very large, mature plants may need to be watered more frequently.

Reduce Watering In The Wintertime

Your goal should be just to prevent shriveling leaves. If you see the leaves begin to shrivel, it is a sure sign you need to water. If this does happen, don’t get upset. They will plump back up again, and if they don’t, you can always pluck them off. More will grow soon.

Fertilizing Sedum Morganianum

Fertilizer your Burro’s tail is not essential, but you can feed a weak solution of cactus fertilizer two or three times during the growing season. Don’t feed more than once a month. In winter, don’t feed at all.

What Is The Best Soil For A Sedum Or Succulent?

Burro’s tial is adaptable to many soils, even poor sandy soils. You can also make your own well-draining soil mixture by combining equal parts potting soil and perlite or pumice. You can also use a commercial cactus soil mix. Read: How To Make The Best Cactus and Succulent Potting Soil

How To Propagate Burro’s Tail Plants And Sedum

It is easy to propagate, root, and start burro’s tail and sedum plants.

Propagate from a Leaf

To propagate Burro’s tail, simply remove a lush, healthy leaf (or pick up a fallen one) and place it on the surface of a little pot with well-draining soil. Why is it so simple? In nature, the leaves fall easily to the ground, take root, and sprout into new plants. In fact, if you keep your Burro’s Tail plant among other potted plants, you will soon notice small “tails” sprouting up in the soil of the plant’s neighbours.

Before you realise it, a little plant will sprout from the leaf’s base. When the tiny plant reaches approximately a half-inch in diameter, it is ready to be transplanted into its own little pot. Begin with a one-inch pot and repot as necessary. These plants thrive and look lovely in traditional terra clay pots.

Propagate from Stems Cuttings

Stem cuttings can also be used to grow these plants. Trim off the last 2 or 3 inches of a stem and remove the leaves from the lower part of the stem. Allow the stem to dry out or harden for a few days before planting it in a half-inch container of cactus soil. Keep the soil lightly moist and place the container somewhere bright and warm. Your plant should start growing roots soon. Repot as needed when it exhibits substantial growth.

Repotting The Burro’s Tail Plant

When repotting, repot in progressively larger pot sizes, up to a six or eight-inch pot or hanging basket as needed. Thereafter, supplement existing soil with fresh soil on an as-needed basis. Repotting or transplanting mature plants is not a good option because it is difficult to prevent injuring the plant. The long burro’s tail succulent is fragile and brittle. When handled, they readily break up.

TIP: Before repotting do a little preplanning and preparation. Stop watering the plant for several weeks and allow the leaves to crinkle slowly. This allows the plant to be more flexible when handling the repotting and transplanting.

Burro’s Tail Pests And Problems

As with most succulents, mealybugs can sometimes be a problem and the burro’s tail is no different.

Mealy Bugs

If your plant seems stunted and just isn’t thriving, check the leaf axils for mealy bugs. They can be hard to detect because they hide in the folds of the plant. If you see them, treat the plant right away with a commercial pesticide or a Neem oil solution. Be sure to drench the soil as well because mealybugs also like to feed on roots and hide there in the soil.

Root Rot

Overwatered plants or ones growing in soil that does not drain correctly can develop root rot and or rot in the stems and crown. When this happens, it’s best to collect healthy leaves and stem tips and discard the rest of the plant. Start over with the parts of the plant you’ve been able to salvage, and be sure to use a good quality, light, airy, well-draining soil. Don’t overwater and provide ample light!

Low Light Problems

If your plant’s stems seem stretched and the leaves are pale and falling off excessively, you are not providing enough light. Prune back spindly parts and move your plant to a setting where it will receive at least four hours of bright sunlight daily.

Falling or Dropping Leaves

The slightest touch of the leaves on the Burro’s tail can cause the leaves to fall off. Keep or hang the plant where people of objects cannot brush up against it.

Is the Burro’s Tail Toxic To Dogs and/or Cats?

According to the ASPCA the burro’s tail, horse’s tail, donkey’s tail and lamb’s tail are NON-TOXIC to dogs, cats, and horses.

Where To Buy Donkey’s Tail?

These plants are easy to find in nurseries and home garden centers. They are also frequently available at local plant sales or gifted by a friend or acquaintance.

Or you can scavenge fallen leaves from your local garden center as this video suggests! All varieties of Burro’s Tail are an excellent choice for a novice gardener because they are very easy to care for. Individual plants live a very long time, and you are sure to have plenty of baby plants standing by to take the place of the parent.

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Video – How To Care for Burro’s Tail

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