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How To Grow Donkey’s Tale Plant

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Donkey’s tail (also known as burro’s tail or lamb’s tail) is a popular and easy-to-grow succulent that features rows of fleshy, tear-drop-shaped leaves. Native to Honduras and Mexico, mature specimens grow slowly and steadily, yet in six years, they can reach trailing lengths of up to four feet (though the average length is closer to 24 inches).

The succulent can be planted and grown all year indoors, but it is best planted outside early spring. Late summer brings red, yellow, or white flowers, yet the plant rarely blooms inside.

Taking Care of a Donkey’s Tail

Donkey’s tail succulents, on the whole, are relatively tolerant plants. They, like other succulents, thrive when neglected; if you fail to water them once or twice, they’ll still thrive. The only time you should treat your donkey’s tail with caution is when you’re handling it.

Its eye-catching beaded stems are exceedingly delicate and can break off with only a mild touch. As a result, it’s best to find a sunny location to plant or hang your donkey’s tail succulent and then forget about it.

Light

Donkey’s tail, like many succulents, flourishes best in direct sunlight. If you’re going to keep your plant indoors, choose a sunny windowsill with enough light throughout the day. If you’re growing your succulent outside, make sure it’s in a pot or in a location where it gets plenty of early suns but is somewhat shaded during the hotter afternoon hours to avoid scorching its beaded leaves.

If your plant starts to become grey or a very dull green (rather than it’s usual rich blue-green), it’s usually because it’s been exposed to too much intense light. The beaded leaves of your donkey’s tail succulent may also have a powdery white, waxy appearance. Don’t be alarmed—this is a perfectly typical occurrence called epicuticular wax, which the plant generates to shield itself from too much direct sunlight.

Soil

Your donkey’s tail succulent should be planted in well-draining, sandy soil if you want it to thrive. If you’re going to keep your succulent in a container (either outside or inside), choose a granular soil mix made specifically for cacti and succulents.

If you’re going to include it in a larger garden, make sure it’s near other plants that demand well-drained soil, as too much-retained water will kill it (You might even add sand to the ground dirt to help with drainage). Furthermore, the donkey’s tail grows best in soil with a neutral to acidic pH of roughly 6.0, but it isn’t picky.

Water

Less is more when it comes to watering your donkey’s tail succulent. Donkey’s tail, like many succulents, is drought resistant once established, so water it more frequently during its growing season in the spring and summer, then less frequently in the fall and winter.

If you’re keeping your succulent indoors, you should water it once a month, but if you’re keeping it outside, you should water it once every two or three weeks. A solid rule of thumb is that your succulent soil should dry out between waterings.

Choose a pot with holes at the bottom to improve drainage; terracotta or clay materials can also help wick water away from the soil. When in doubt, waterless rather than more—tail donkey’s retains moisture in its beaded leaves and can withstand periods of dryness, but it is not tolerant of over-watering.

Humidity and Temperature

Donkey’s tail enjoys warm climates, but it can withstand cooler temperatures better than other succulents. Whether you keep your plant indoors or outdoors, strive to keep the temperature between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit on average.

It can withstand temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit for a short period, so bring it inside before the first frost or keep it away from draughty windows during the winter months.

Donkey’s tail has no unique requirements when it comes to humidity. In reality, it favors typical humidity levels and will decompose if the humidity in its habitat is increased (so no need to mist its leaves or keep it somewhere more humid, like a bathroom).

Fertilizer

While fertilizing a donkey’s tail succulent isn’t vital for its growth, it won’t hurt and can be a good approach to supplement the plant’s nutritional needs.

Focus on feeding your plant in the spring at the start of its growing season, using a balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Fertilizers of one-quarter strength may be preferred by mature succulents, whereas younger plants may prefer fertilizer with less nitrogen.

Succulents from a Donkey’s Tail

Donkey’s tail, like most succulents, is easy to reproduce through its leaves, which is excellent news because they tend to fall off at the slightest provocation. If your plant has lately lost part of its beaded leaves, simply set them aside until the skin has scabbed over, which should take two to three days.

The leaves can then be placed in a fresh pot filled with cactus or succulent soil combination, with about half of each leaf visible above the soil line. Water regularly (approximately once a week) until new growth appears.

Donkey’s Tail Succulents Repotting

Because of their delicate nature, repotting a donkey’s tail succulent should only be done when essential. You risk losing a lot of your “tails” to jostling and replanting if you do so. If you need to re-pot your succulent, the best time to do so is during the summer.

Before you begin, make sure the soil is totally dry, then gently remove the succulent from its current container, knocking away any old earth from the plant’s roots.

Please place it in a new, larger pot and backfill with soil, making sure the roots are spread widely. Allow it to “relax” for about a week before watering it for the first time in its new habitat.

Typical Pests

The donkey’s succulent tail isn’t extremely pest-prone, but it’ll almost certainly be from aphids if it does get infected. Aphids can usually be hosed off a plant, but considering the fragility of donkey’s tail succulents, this isn’t the ideal approach. Instead, spritz them with organic neem oil every few days until the aphids are gone (typically around two to three weeks).

By Elissa Sanci

Elissa Sanci, the owner of the website GardenProducts.org, graduated from Santa Barbara City College – a famous public school in California with many diverse training professions, and she majored in horticulture.

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