Sedum morganianum: Burro’s tail

Family: Crassulaceae
Common name: Burro’s tail, Donkey tail, Donkey’s tail, Horse’s tail

If you have successfully managed to grow and propagate more than two containers of Burro’s tail, you can call yourself an expert gardener. Not that Burro’s tail needs a lot of attention, they need to be ignored long enough.

Overwatering, over-fertilization, and too much care can ruin your beautiful Burro’s tail plant in no time. You need to water these succulent plants only once in 10-15 days, or once in a month in the rainy season after confirming that the soil is dry to touch.

Their long, trailing stems grow to a length of 50-60 cms with plump, rounded leaves arranged thickly around them. These light-green or bluish-green leaves are .5-1.5 cms long, pillow-shaped, and succulent, storing enough water to help the plants survive without water for many days.

Leaves and stems have a wax coating over them, which prevents excess water evaporation.

Burro’s tail plants produce beautifully unique pink or red flowers at the tips of the stem in summer. Sepals of these flowers are large and plump, almost like the leaves of Burro’s tail plants.

Flowers have 5 large, pinkish-red petals and prominent yellow stamens. Tiny seeds are produced inside these flowerheads once they mature and brown, but they are difficult to find and collect, because of their size, and chances of wind dispersal.

These plants do not like to be moved from one place to another or repotted, and will react by dropping leaves. Too little sunlight, and overwatering can also lead to leaf dropping, a major problem faced by gardeners. Once the leaves drop away, the stem will look gangly and callused causing a lot of frustration to a gardener who has tended to and grown a healthy Burro’s tail plant.

Like all succulents, these plants can reproduce from individual leaves. So the fallen leaves can be placed outside for a couple of weeks till the bases is callused before planting them in succulent potting mix.

Potting mix is very important for succulents – made up of soil, coarse sand, perlite, and cocopeat. This enables the soil to drain quickly and also helps succulents to spread their roots sooner in the loose soil mix. Burro’s tail plants prefer morning sun, and partial shade, as too much bright sunlight can burn the leaf edges.

Fertilization is required no more than once a month, and should be less frequent in winter when these plants become dormant in growth. They are slow growers taking over 5-6 years to reach their full length.

Propagation is through stem cuttings, that should be left in the open to allow calluses to form on the cut ends, before they are planted in soil. Leaves can also be placed in soil to produce small plants.