The donkey's tail succulent (Sedum morganianum) is a popular and easy-to-grow trailing succulent with rows of fleshy, tear-drop shaped leaves. This plant is also commonly known as lamb's tail, burro's tail, or horse's tail. Some other closely related Sedum varieties may also be known by any of these names. These succulents make excellent hanging plants or they can be used as trailers (a plant with only one root that creeps along the surface) in small pots.
A mature specimen might have branches up to two feet long, with dozens of grey-green, plump leaves lined up like droplets. Flowers readily emerge in late summer in hanging clusters of small blossoms. The flowers can be red, yellow, or white.
Donkey's tails are pretty forgiving plants—if you forget to water them once or twice, they'll probably be just fine. Too often, these are left to fend for themselves, simply because they can. But with a little effort, the plant can grow into a remarkable specimen.
- Light: These plants prefer full sun and are well-suited for placing near a sunny window.
- Drainage: During the spring and summer, donkey's tail needs weekly watering. Make sure that the plant is draining well. Poor drainage will lead to root rot. In the winter months, scale back to monthly watering.
- Temperatures: These succulents prefer average temperatures of 65 degrees F to 70 degrees F. They can survive colder winter temperatures as low as 40 degrees F, but do prefer a warmer climate.
- Soil: The well-drained soil should have an ideal pH of around 6.0 (slightly acidic).
- Fertilizer: At the start of spring, feed the donkey's tail succulent a controlled release, balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer, which contains equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Mature plants may prefer fertilizer at 1/4 strength, while young plants may prefer fertilizer with less nitrogen.
Propagation and Repotting
These plants can be propagated, or bred, by seed or by cuttings. Cuttings of individual leaves can be sprouted by placing them into a succulent or cacti mix, then covering the leaves with a glass or plastic enclosure until they sprout. Large donkey's tail plants can also be divided and repotted if they are outgrowing their current pot.
Repotting is most successful in the warmer seasons. To repot a succulent:
- Make sure the soil is dry before starting the process.
- Gently remove the plant from the current pot.
- Knock away the old soil from the plant, making sure to remove any rotted or dead roots in the process.
- If there are any major cuts on the roots, treat them with a fungicide.
- Place the plant in the new pot and backfill the extra space with potting soil, spreading the roots out within the new, larger pot.
- Leave the plant dry for a week or so, then begin to water lightly to reduce the risk of root rot.
Insects and Pests
The donkey's tail succulent is not particularly susceptible to a wide range of insects and pests. Aphids are the most common pests on these plants. To remove any aphids, you can hose off your plants every month with water. Another option is to spray the plant with a mixture of 1/5 rubbing alcohol to 4/5 water. If that does not work, spraying organic neem oil directly on your plant will help keep pests away.