From afar, the burro’s tail looks like long, green braids hanging down from baskets or pots. But, if you look closely, you’ll notice that this succulent’s trailing stems are more intricate.
They’re made of fleshy leaves bunched up together along the stem to form beautiful “vines”.
Not only does this make it unique, it also makes it very intriguing to look at not to mention very versatile.
Read on to learn how to properly care for the burro’s tail.
About the Burro’s Tail
The burro’s tail plant goes by many other common names, the most popular of which is donkey’s tail. That’s because it grows long stems with thick, plump leaves that trail downwards like the animal’s tail.
It’s also worth noting that the plant is sometimes called the burro’s tail cactus, which is a misnomer since it isn’t a cactus at all.
Instead, it’s a succulent. Although, you can argue that the two are very much related since cacti are succulents. And, both are used to living in gritty soil, don’t need a lot of watering and thrive in bright, sunlit areas.
What makes the burro’s tail unique is its looks and versatility.
Its fleshy green colored leaves are very lovely when draping from hanging baskets as they are coming down the sides of tall pots or containers.
You can likewise use them in your landscape or patio.
Since they grow up to 4 feet long, you’ll be able to use them as décor for blank areas or to cover sections of walls.
That said, don’t let its looks fool you. While the leaves make look light and bubbly, together, they’ll get heavy especially as the plant grows in size.
So, if you plan on hanging it in a basket or draping it over any structure, make sure they can support its weight.
Burro’s Tail Plant Care
These lovely succulents enjoy anything from full sun to partial shade.
Ideally, they like a lot of light. Thus, it’s a good idea to put them somewhere they can receive at least 4-6 hours of it daily in order to stay healthy.
This is key, especially if you grow them indoors where getting sufficient lighting can be a challenge.
That said, they prefer bright, indirect light as opposed to being in the direct path of the sun’s ray.
This means keeping them away or protected from the harshest of the sun’s rays, including noontime and during hot summer days.
That’s because too much intense exposure makes them turn pale green.
Anywhere facing east where they get the morning sun would be ideal. This can be right beside the window or in your garden.
You can likewise try south and west facing areas although keep them farther away from the sun’s rays or if indoors use a sheer curtain on the window to filter the light.
Temperature & Humidity
Burro’s tail are not hardy to cold weather. In fact, they’ll only do well outdoors in zones 9 through 11 since they’ll have problems when the temperature drops under 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ideally, they thrive when temperatures are about 70 degrees or higher.
But, they can tolerate up to 30 to 50 degrees. But, keeping them in those conditions for long periods of time isn’t optimal.
So, you’ll need to bring them indoors once the weather gets cooler during the winter months.
Like other succulents, they don’t need a lot of watering. In fact, the bigger problem for them is overwatering, which puts them at risk of rotting out.
But, it’s worth noting that providing them with enough moisture is key to keeping their leaves plump and looking nice and healthy.
That’s because they store water in their leaves. This allows them to survive in their native environment where water isn’t always available.
In general, you’ll only need to water your burro’s tail every 7 to 14 days. Exactly how often will depend on a few factors including how hot the current weather is and whether you’re keeping it indoors or outside. Similarly, larger more mature plants will need more water. And, the kind of pot you use also affects how frequent you’ll need to water.
In any case, when you do water your burro’s tail, make sure to do so thoroughly. Besides hydrating the plant, this is a good way of flushing out excess salts from fertilizer.
If they’re outdoors, keep track of how much rain you get. This way, you don’t end up adding too much water on weeks where they’re a lot of moisture from the sky.
As with other tropical plants, the burro’s tail needs well-draining soil. You can use a potting mix that’s designed for cacti and succulents, which works really well for them.
Or, you can likewise add perlite, pumice, or coarse sand to amend the soil you already have to make it drain extra moisture faster.
Fertilizer helps keep your burro’s tail looking plump and blue green in color. So, it’s important to give it the sustenance it needs.
But, like water, it’s important not to go overboard.
All it needs is a dose of balanced fertilizer twice or thrice during its growing season. And, don’t apply more than once a month.
Come wintertime, you can completely halt feeding.
Burro’s tail will grow to about 4 feet long with their trailing stems overflowing from the container. This makes them very lovely to look at when hung from baskets or tall containers.
While it does take 5-6 years before this happens, you’ll notice that its stems get thicker and plumper as they grow. They get quite heavy too.
Thus, depending on how you want your décor to look and how unruly or long they get, you may want or need to prune the plant.
The good news is, pruning helps promote new growth and invigorates it. So, you get a fuller plant when you do.
This is why many owners trim their burro’s tail plants every 2-3 years or so.
And, while you’re at it, you can likewise propagate them.
Burro’s tail plants are easy to propagate. Thus, you can add more of them to your home or garden when you want by propagating them via leaves or cuttings.
Propagating Burro’s Tail from Leaves
- Take out a leaf from the stem. Be gentle when doing so since the plant is fairly brittle.
- When you pull it out, make sure to get the entire leaf. Using this to propagate gives you a better chance of success.
- Similarly, you can wait for your burro’s tail to drop some leaves, which it does every so often.
- Once you have the leaf, leave it to callous. This takes around 24 to 48 hours or so.
- Then, place the leaf into well-draining soil.
Propagating Burro’s Tail from Cuttings
- Cut the stems the length you need
- Leave it to allow the end to callous. This will take a few days.
- Insert it into the pot containing well-draining soil.
- Water thoroughly when the soil dries out.
Like pruning, your burro’s tail only needs to be repotted occasionally. And, this happens when they’ve outgrown the container they’re currently in.
The one issue with repotting them is that they’re fairly sensitive. They don’t like being touched or transplanted. And, doing so when they’ve matured can damage them, causing them to break up when handled with little care.
So, it’s a good idea to repot gradually.