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How To Care For & Propagate Burro's Tail

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In this post I'm going to tell you how I care for and propagate my Sedum morganianum or Burro's Tail, Donkey's Tail or Horse's Tail.
You Might Know This Fascinating Succulent As Donkey's Tail
This sedum is a most handsome succulent. Mine happily resides in a large square terra cotta pot with my now 5 year old Coleus "Dipped In Wine" (yes, they're technically perennials) and a Golden Weeping Variegated Boxwood which I brought home from Kew Gardens as a wee cutting. One would not think to use these 3 plants in a container together but it works for me and that's another story. In this post I'm going to tell you how I care for and propagate my Sedum morganianum or Burro's Tail, Donkey's Tail or Horse's Tail.
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This plant eventually grows to 4 long which will take around 6 years or so. As it grows it gets very thick with those trailing stems heavily laden with overlapping plump, juicy leaves which form a groovy braided pattern. As you can imagine, a mature plant gets very heavy. This plant is not for a flimsy pot with a flimsy hanger. It's best grown in a hanging basket, in a large pot like mine, in a pot that hangs against a wall or trailing out of a rock garden.
In terms of care, a Burro's Tail couldn't be easier. I'm going to cover that below along with propagation which is something you'll want to know how to do because all your friends will want a cutting or two. Mine grows outdoors but I'll also tell you what it needs if you want to grow it in your house at the end of this list.
Light: Sedum morganianum likes bright shade or partial sun. It will burn in strong, hot sun. Mine gets morning sun which it prefers. And now, because my neighbor cut down two of his pine trees last year, it gets some afternoon sun too. If you watch the video at the end you'll see the stems that are getting too much sun are a pale green. This plant should ideally be a lovely blue-green. I may have to move it to a less sunny spot - I'll watch it and see.
Watering: All those leaves store water so be sure not to overwater it. It will rot out if you do. My Burro's Tail is well established (around 5 years old) so I water it every 10-14 days but give it a thorough drink. Watering this way also helps some of the salts (from the water and fertilizers) to flush out of the pot. The rainwater mine gets in the winter helps with that. In other words, don't splash and go every other day. In the growing season, when the days are warmer and longer, I water it more often every 9-11 days. As a rule, plants in clay pots will dry out faster as will larger plants in smaller pots. Adjust accordingly as well as to the weather conditions.
Soil: Like any other succulent, this one needs good drainage. The water needs to drain out of it fast so it's best to use a mix especially formulated for cactus and succulents. I buy mine at California Cactus Center near Pasadena in case you live in that area. Or, you can add horticultural grade sand and perlite (or fine lava rock, gravel or pumice) to lighten up whatever potting soil you have. My secret planting weapon is worm castings. Your Burro's Tail would love a bit of that too. By the way, I top dress all the containers in my garden with compost and worm castings every Spring.
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To have your Burro's Tail flower is rare. Mine bloomed for the first time ever this year although there were only 3 clusters on that big ole plant.
Temperature: Here in Santa Barbara the average low temperature for the winter months hovers around the low 40's. We occasionally dip into the thirties but not for more than a couple of days. Mine is up against the house and shows no signs of stress during those brief chilly spells. Our average summer temps are in the mid to high 70's which is ideal for the Burro's Tail.
Insects: The only pests that mine ever gets are aphids so I just hose them off every month. Burro's Tail really isn't susceptible to a wide range of insects. You can spray it with a mixture of 1/5 rubbing alcohol to 4/5 water if hosing off isn't doing the trick. Neem Oil, which works on a wide range of insects, is an organic method of control that is simple and very effective.
Propagation: Like most succulents, Sedum morganianum is a snap to propagate. Simply cut the stems to the length you want, peel the bottom 1/3 of the leaves off and then let those stems heal off (this is where the cut end of the stem callus over) for 2 weeks to 3 months before planting. When you plant your cuttings, you might need to pin them down in the pot because the weight of the stems will pull them out. You can also propagate it by individual leaf cuttings which you'll see in the picture below. Just a head's up because the leaves break and fall off this plant very easily. If you want to know more on this subject, I've done an entire blog post about propagating sedums .
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You can also propagate it with the individual leaves. Baby plants are emerging where the leaf meets the stem. Simply lay the leaves on top of your cactus & succulent mix & they'll root in. Keep it on the dry side.
Burro's Tail makes a fine houseplant. It is commonly sold as an indoor hanging plant. Put it in a spot with nice, bright light but out of any windows with strong, hot sun. You might have to move it in the winter time as the sun shifts to a place where the light is brighter. It is very important to not over water this plant. Those leaves store a lot of water so don't do it every week. Depending on the temperature and light in your home, a thorough watering once a month will probably be enough.
  • how to care for propagate burro s tail, container gardening, flowers, gardening, how to, succulents
Here's the foliage up close so you can see that braided pattern formed by how the leaves grow.
The good news is that Sedum morganianum is non toxic cats and dogs. If any insects appear, simply take your plant (mealy bugs and aphids are what it is most prone to) to the sink, shower or outdoors and give it a good spray. You want to do this in the warmer months because succulents don't like being sprayed in the cooler, darker months. Your Burro's Tail might appreciate a yearly feeding of Houseplants Alive or Organics Rx Indoor Plant Food at the beginning of the growing season (when it starts to warm up and the days start to lengthen). Be sure not to over fertilize it because succulents, and houseplants for that matter, are sensitive to salts.
I've done lots more blog posts and videos on succulents which you'll find on this page if you're like me and just can't get enough of them. I love my Sedum morganianum aka Burro's Tail, Donkey's Tail, Horse's Tail or Lamb's Tail (so many common names!) because it's the plant that keeps on giving. Cuttings for everyone!
Happy gardening!
Nell
Joy Us garden

To see more: http://www.joyusgarden.com/burros-tail-care/

Got a question about this project?

  • Bonnie
    Bonnie Lebanon, MO
    on Apr 17, 2016

    Thanks for sharing!! Your plants are beautiful, and I love the arrangement with the Hens n' Chicks.

    • Joy Us garden
      Joy Us garden Santa Barbara, CA
      on Apr 18, 2016

      @Bonnie You're welcome! I have Hens & Chicks, lots of other succulents & bromeliads in my garden but the lead photo was taken at Sherman Library & Gardens. it's well worth a visit if you're ever visiting So Cal. Nell

  • Beth H.    Makemeprettyagain.blogspot
    Beth H. Makemeprettyagain.blogspot Diamond Bar, CA
    on Apr 18, 2016

    Beautiful! thanks. how in the world do you repot, or when propagate a large cutting, how to get it to stay in the soil without falling out (and losing a lot of the leaves in the process!) I try to handle it carefully but those leaves just break off so easily!

    • Joy Us garden
      Joy Us garden Santa Barbara, CA
      on Apr 18, 2016

      @Beth H. Makemeprettyagain.blogspot You're welcome! I propagate a lot of succulents & for an upright 1, it's best to use a stake or even a chopstick if it's not to tall. For the heavier trailing ones, I use floral greening pins. You can see me doing it in the video in this post: http://www.joyusgarden.com/repotting-ponytail-palm/ You can skip to around the 4:30 mark to see the pins. Sometimes I have to use 2, 3 or even 4 of them but it does the trick every time. Nell

  • Elaine
    Elaine North Smithfield, RI
    on Apr 18, 2016

    How about if you make a "support fence" around it with bamboo skewers cut in half and pressed halfway into the soil. About 6 to 8 pieces close to the cutting should do it! When the cutting is established, remove them....

    • Joy Us garden
      Joy Us garden Santa Barbara, CA
      on Apr 18, 2016

      @Elaine There are many inventive ways to do it - that's the beauty of gardening! I use floral greening pins & after the cutting has rooting, I use them again. Nell

  • Anna
    Anna South Africa
    on Apr 19, 2016

    Thank you very much for this wonderful information. My friend gave me a piece of her Donkey's Tail about 3 years ago. I also planted it in pot attached to the wall. It has grown beautiful, and have bloomed this year for the first time. Sadly my friend passed away in October last year. It would've been nice if she could see it. She always commented on how healthy my plants were. I'm from South Africa.

    • Joy Us garden
      Joy Us garden Santa Barbara, CA
      on Apr 19, 2016

      @Anna It's wonderful how plants remind us of certain people & I'm sure you'll take good care of that Burro's Tail in memory of your friend. I live in Southern California where some plants native to South Africa grow. I've always wanted to visit there! Nell

  • Karen
    Karen Groton, CT
    on Apr 21, 2016

    In CT mine summer's outdoors. But the sparrows have started to eat the leaves! The whole top of the plant is bare and looks very unattractive.

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