Donkey tail succulent

Donkey Tail Succulent Care – Read This First!

Is your Donkey plant dying? Houseplants always know how to get you. It usually starts with one leaf falling off. You try to ignore it, hoping it’s just a fluke, but before you know it, your prized houseplant is on its deathbed. At this point, the most common next step is to leap into action and do a quick search on how to save our indoor plants.

It is here that we meet today, and together we are going to dig into the needs of the Donkey Tail plant and the Burro’s Tail plant. Before we move into rescue mode, it is important to start by differentiating the two. While they are both from the same family and like to be treated in relatively the same manner, their reactions to certain issues can manifest differently.

Both plants originated in southern Mexico, where temperatures are warm during the day and cool during the evenings. It is a relatively gentle climate, and is home to the region of Oaxaca, known around the world for its high levels of biodiversity. It’s important to be cognizant of the origins of these plants when caring for them in our homes, throughout the world, and across varying climate zones.

The Donkey Tail can be identified by its crescent-like leaf shape. The leaves tend to be relatively spaced out in comparison to Burro’s Tail which has a more compact structure. The leaves of the Burro’s Tail are more round, or oval-shaped and the leaves fit together on the spine tightly.

How Can I Save My Donkey’s Tail?

Now that we know which one is which, we can start to address some of the issues you might come across while caring for your Donkey Tail.

While both the Donkey Tail and Burro’s Tail have the potential to produce a beautiful flower, you may notice your Donkey Tail also taking on a reddish tinge, or potentially even just going completely brown. This means the plant has received too much strong sunlight. While plants need a lot of natural light, too much of anything is never good.

If you live somewhere with very strong sun, try to find a spot that has a more gentle filtered light throughout the day. If this is not possible, you can also make a note to simply move it out of the sun for part of the day so it can take a break from the intense heat.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you may have a problem with too little light. When your Donkey Tail plant starts to look leggy and the leaves are too spread out, this is due to a lack of proper sunlight. The plant tends to stretch itself out when seeking light, so having it readily available allows for tightly clustered leaves to form.

Luckily, the Donkey Tail is extremely easy to propagate with a single leaf. This is useful to know because while it can be frustrating to start from scratch, it is totally possible to rescue what is left of a dying plant. Sometimes if the environment your potted plant is living in is too humid, or bacteria gets into the soil, mold can start to grow, impacting your plant.

Other issues may occur when you try to transplant it into a different pot, or it may develop something like root rot. If your plant is suffering and you’re not sure if you can save it, it’s a good idea to start propagating some of the remaining healthy leaves and turning them into new plants.

Donkey Tail

Why Is My Donkey Tail Losing Its Leaves?

Your Donkey Tail is losing its leaves because you have overwatered it. Both the Donkey Tail and Burro’s tail prefer to be watered every 10-14 days. Make sure your plant is in a well-drained pot, and that the soil has dried out before watering it again.

It’s important to remember that these plants come from the gentle growing region of southern Mexico, where soft but consistent light is easily found with a long summer season and a short rainy season.

Your houseplant will have adapted to its new home in some ways, but just like too much harsh sun can cause the plant harm, so can too much water. Depending on your environment, some experts actually only recommend watering your Donkey Tail plant once a month. The best rule of thumb is to check if the soil is completely dry before watering.

If the plant has already developed root rot from overwatering, the only possible way to save it is to propagate some of the remaining healthy parts of the plant and create a brand-new root base. Once root rot has taken place it is usually quite difficult to recover.

Both the Donkey Tail plant and the Burro’s tail don’t mind being slightly rootbound, so as long as you implement a healthy watering schedule, the fear of the pot being too small is not a big concern.

Why Is My Burro’s Tail Shriveling?

The rounder, tightly packed leaves of the Burro’s tail make shriveling quite noticeable when it happens. Your Burro’s tail is shriveling due to a lack of water. While overwatering can be a concern, underwatering will also have adverse effects. As recommended above, 10-14 days is the generally agreed upon recommendation. The plant is part of the succulent family so its ability to store water is a key feature.

You may be following the watering guidelines but then giving it too little water on the days you do water it. Think of the outdoors, when a plant receives heavy rainfall and then nothing for weeks. You want to mimic that situation with your Burro’s Tail. Make sure you are giving it a generous amount of water on watering days so that the soil is soaked thoroughly.

Unlike other house plants, succulents thrive in low-humidity environments, so as long as you make sure to give it the right amount of water, and filtered sunlight, you should find success with these two plants pretty easily!

Okay, now it’s time to go give those plants some love. Remember, consistent but gentle sun, and water generously once every 10-14 days, and if some leaves fall off, fear not, you can replant them and grow a new one. Happy growing everyone! 

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