a burros tail plant

Burro’s-Tail – Growing & Care Guide

Scientific Name: Sedum morganianum | Blooming season: Spring & summer

👍 Loves: Well-drained soil, full sun | 👎 Hates: Intense light, dense soil

A burro’s-tail cactus is a unique trailing plant that has been popping up in homes and gardens all around the UK in recent years. Also known as a donkey’s tail or lamb’s tail, this plant is native to Mexico and is extremely low maintenance, with a very high tolerance to drought. Find out how to grow your own burro’s-tail, whether outdoors in a hardy spot or indoors as a house plant.

Guide Contents

  1. Identification
  2. When To Plant
  3. Where To Plant
  4. Propagation
  5. How To Repot
  6. Growing & Care Tips

Identification

burros-tail in a hanging basket
A potted burro’s-tail

Although the burro’s-tail is commonly called a burro’s-tail cactus, you won’t find any spines on this plant! Technically, the burro’s-tail is a succulent, and is easy to identify as one. Here are some of the main features of a burro’s-tail:

Height1 – 4 feet
Spread0.1 – 0.5 metres
FoliageEvergreen, blue-green leaves
FlowersPurple (only bloom outdoors)
HabitTrailing
Identifying FeaturesThick, trailing stems,
Plaited-looking leaves

When To Plant

You can grow a burro’s-tail either indoors or outdoors. If you are growing your burro’s-tail as a house plant, you can plant it at any time of the year. However, if you plan to grow your donkey’s tail outdoors, it’s best to plant it in early Spring.  


Where To Plant

🌱 Outdoors or inside in pots | 🌞 Full sun | 💨 Sheltered position

Although burro’s-tail are most commonly planted up as house plants, you can grow these trailing plants outdoors too. They are hardy plants and will grow almost anywhere with very little maintenance. However, to encourage strong growth, you should plant a burro’s-tail in full sun with shelter from the wind. Ideally, your soil should be well draining and sandy or loamy. But a burro’s-tail is hardy enough to survive almost any soil conditions.


How To Propagate Burro’s-Tail

Propagating burro’s-tail is a fairly easy task since the leaves of this succulent fall off at the even the slightest touch. After transplanting or repotting, you’re likely to find plenty of leaves littering the ground. So, put them to good use through propagation!

Gather up the leaves and insert them halfway into a moist, soilless potting mix. Unlike established burro’s-tail plants, new potential plants are intolerant of drought. So, you should keep them lightly moist until they have taken root and begun to establish themselves.

How To Repot Burro’s-Tail

Although burro’s-tail may be a hardy plant, it is also a delicate one. So, you must be gentle with it, and only repot it when it’s absolutely necessary. Usually, you can repot a burro’s-tail every few years, since this plant can tolerate being a bit root bound. Ideally, you should repot a burro’s-tail during the warmer months.

  1. First, ensure that the plant’s soil is completely dry before beginning. Then, gently lift the burro’s-tail from its current pot and knock away any old soil from its roots.
  2. Next, place the succulent in it’s a new pot – a shallow, clay pot is ideal. Refill the pot with soil, ensuring that you spread the roots out in the larger pot.
  3. Finally, allow your burro’s-tail to rest for about a week before watering it for the first time in its new pot.

Growing & Care Tips

The burro’s-tail is a fairly low maintenance plant, requiring little watering or fertilizing. Here are some top growing and care tips to ensure your burro’s-tail thrives in a modern garden:

Watering

A burro’s-tail’s ideal watering schedule is the very definition of less is more. Once this plant is established, it is drought resistant. However, this means you’ll want to water it more frequently during its growing season in spring and summer. Then, throughout autumn and winter, lessen its watering significantly.

A good way to know when your burro’s-tail needs watering is by checking the soil. The soil of your plant should dry out completely in between waterings. If the soil is dry at least an inch beneath surface level, you can water your plant.

Fertilizing

Fertilizing burro’s-tail isn’t necessary for a successful growth, but it certainly won’t hinder the process and can give the plant more nutrients. The best time to fertilize a burro’s-tail is in spring (the beginning of its growth season) using a balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer. If you are fertilizing a mature plant, you can use the fertilizer at a quarter strength. On the other hand, younger plants may prefer fertilizer with a little less nitrogen.

Pest Control

Fortunately, the burro’s-tail isn’t particularly susceptible to pests. But, if it does suffer from an infestation, the likely culprits will be aphids or mealybugs. Since burro’s-tail are fragile plants, a blast from the hose is not an ideal way to remove these bugs. Instead, you should mist them every two to three days with diluted neem oil, a common insecticide. Read more on removing aphids and similar pests here.

Disease

Similarly, burro’s-tail is unsusceptible to many diseases. However, it can fall victim to root rot if you overwater it or grow it in dense, poorly draining soil. Unfortunately, even taking the steps to treat wood rot may not guarantee a healthy plant, although the quicker you treat, the more likely your plant is to survive.

Here’s how to treat root rot on your burro’s-tail:

  1. First, gently remove your plant from the soil and wash the roots with running water. Try and wash away as many affected roots as you can, plus as much of the soil still attached.
  2. Next, use a pair of sharp, sterile shears or scissors to clip off the remaining rotting roots. If the plant is badly affected, you’ll likely have to remove a large amount of the root system. Then, clean your cutting tool with rubbing alcohol and prune back around a half of the leaves on your burro’s-tail. Doing so will give the plant a better chance to regrow its roots since it won’t need to support too many leaves.
  3. Then, dispose of all the soil in the pot that the plant was in. Make sure you wash it thoroughly, preferably with a solution of diluted bleach.
  4. Before repotting your burro’s-tail, dip its remaining roots in a fungicide solution. This will kill off any root rot fungus spores that may still be hanging around.
  5. Finally, repot your burro’s-tail in its pot with a clean potting mix. As usual with a burro’s-tail, you should only water it when the top inch of the soil is dry. Plus, while it’s regrowing its roots, don’t fertilize your plant, since this could stress it.

Overwintering

Whether you’re growing burro’s-tail indoors or out, you should alter your habits over winter. You should reduce watering to every other month throughout winter and avoid feeding during this time, since it is a period of low growth for a burro’s-tail. If you are growing a burro’s-tail outdoors, they may benefit from some winter protection in the form of a light layer of mulch.

Pruning

If stems of your burro’s-tail become sparse due to leaves dropping off, you may prune the stem close to the plant crown. Otherwise, no pruning is necessary, besides clipping off leaves for propagation.


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