Burro’s Tail: Ultimate Care And Growing Guide

Perfect for the novice gardener, burro’s tail succulent, or donkey tail plant, is simple to care for and propagates easily.

Burro's tail succulent in a pot
(Image credit: Cavan Images / Getty Images)

Quick Burro's Tail Facts:

  • Botanical name-Sedum morganianum
  • Height- 24 inches (60 cm)
  • Spread- 10-12 inches (25.4-30.48 cm)
  • Sun exposure- Full to partial
  • Soil requirements- Well-draining, gritty
  • Hardiness zones- USDA 9-11
  • When to plant- Spring

How To Grow Burro’s Tail – Sedum Morganianum

Succulents come in a myriad of forms and burro’s tail is a fascinating example. Also known as donkey tail plant, sedum morganianum is a trailing succulent perfect for hanging planters. The diminutive leaves adorn dependent stems that cascade from the heart of the plant. The stems are fragile and break off easily, but such an incident may be an opportunity to create new plants.

Burro's Tail Care

The burro’s tail plant is a must-have for serious succulent collectors. Burro’s tail care is a bit fussier than traditional succulents but well worth acquiring. In its native habitat, this succulent will sprawl out with stems arching along the ground. As a cultivated specimen, it is most often grown in a hanging container. Cultural care of the donkey’s tail succulent requires proper light, watering, and soil type. The plant produces trailing, 24-inch (60 cm) stems adorned with small, fleshy blue-green leaves and pinkish-red terminal flowers at the end of summer. 

Light

Burro’s tail is native to southern Mexico, an area that receives plentiful sunlight year-round. As a houseplant, a donkey's tail requires bright light, ideally in a full sun location of the home. Slowly introduce the plant to full sun once purchased to allow it to acclimate first, as light conditions vary from nursery to nursery. 

A southern or western facing window provides sufficient light. In homes with poor light exposure, use an artificial plant light. This succulent needs at least 8 hours of bright light daily for optimum growth. In the summer, move the plant outdoors carefully to avoid breaking the stems. Hang it under a covered patio or the eaves, where it will receive light through most of the day. 

Water

Most succulents are drought tolerant, and the burro’s tail is no exception. However, it does prefer infrequent but deep watering. This is where well-draining soil is key, as excess moisture needs to filter freely from the container to prevent rot issues. In winter, the plant is not actively growing and needs water only half the time. Apply tepid water when the top of the soil is dry, approximately every 9-14 days. 

Soil

Purchased cactus soil is an appropriate habitat. A homemade mixture of regular potting soil combined with perlite, pumice, or sand to keep the medium well-aerated and freely draining is also useful. The best soil for this plant is porous with the ability to move water away from the stems quickly. 

Temperature & Humidity

Sedum morganianum does not tolerate high humidity. It should be placed where there is plenty of airflow and away from high-humidity sites such as a bathroom. Burro’s tail enjoys average home temperatures. Keep the plant away from drafty windows and doors in winter. This is a tender perennial and it has no frost tolerance. Bring outdoor plants in when temperatures drop. Its ideal USDA hardiness zone is 9-11. 

Fertilizer

Feed a burro’s tail succulent once or twice during its growing season using a balanced houseplant food diluted by half. Suspend feeding the plant in fall and winter, and resume fertilizing it in spring. 

Problems, Pests & Diseases

Indoors this plant experiences few problems. However, low light will reduce the color and prevent the formation of flowers, and overwatering can introduce fungal disease. Planted outdoors, the burro’s tail can be prey to mealybugs, aphids, scale, and vine weevil. Spray the plant with rubbing alcohol at the first sign of pests. When bringing it indoors for winter segregate the plant to treat any hitchhiking pests

Pruning

There is no need to prune this plant. However, any stem that breaks or is purposely cut will develop branching nodes. This will create a thicker plant with more appendages. Dead or diseased stems may be taken off at any time. 

Burro’s Tail Propagation

Burro's tail’s small, rounded leaves fall off at the slightest touch. Any healthy mature stems removed from this plant make excellent propagation material. Strip the leaves from the cut end and allow the cutting to callus for a few days before inserting it into a well-draining medium. Donkey’s tail succulent may also be propagated from leaves. Let the leaf dry out for a few days and place it on the top of soil. It will root in a couple of weeks. Cuttings will result in much quicker plants than leaves. 

Repotting

Burro’s tail is very tolerant of crowding. Re-pot it every couple of years to freshen the soil. Increase the container size only when there is no room between the stems and the side of the pot. It may also be grown from seed planted when temperatures are 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 C) in early spring.

How to Make a Burro’s Tail Flower

Move plants outdoors during summer and bring them in before temperatures threaten to go below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.44 C). In the winter, hang the plant in a relatively cool area where temperatures are around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 C). Only mature stems will produce the flowers at the ends. 

Burro’s Tail Varieties

Sedum morganianum is similar to another sedum, S. burrito. Sedum morganianum has curved, crescent-shaped, pointed leaves, while S. burrito has rounded leaves with no point. Both have a similar form and care requirements. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Know If a Burro’s Tail Needs Water?

Burro’s tail leaves should be thick and fleshy. When the plant needs water the leaves will pucker and crinkle, indicating irrigation is necessary. Leaves may also fall off the stems when the succulent is receiving insufficient moisture. 

Can a Burro’s Tail Survive in Low Light?

A partial sun situation is possible for this sedum. However, it will fail to grow and perform poorly in areas with only artificial or low light. In such a scenario, a plant light is warranted. 

Bonnie L. Grant
Writer

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.