Pruning & Propagating A Burro’s Tail Succulent
Burro's Tail Sedums (Sedum morganianum, Donkey's Tail ) are unique hanging succulents which propagate easily. Here are things to know & steps to take when pruning & propagating one.
Sedum morganianum is best known as the Burro’s Tail succulent or Donkey’s Tail plant. It’s an excellent addition to any home as a houseplant if you have bright natural light and don’t water it too often. I grow mine in my garden year round, which looks great too. It’s such a beautiful and versatile plant that it can go in a large pot with other beautiful succulents or in my case, a large 3-headed Ponytail Palm. When it comes time to propagate Burro’s Tail you’ll find it simple to do.
One of the greatest things about the Burro’s Tail is how easy it is to propagate. The only thing tricky is the fact that the leaves fall off like crazy when you touch or prune it. If you’re transplanting it, I’ve shared a trick for that which minimizes the leaf drop.
Pruning & Propagating My Burro’s Tail Succulent:
Tools You Need
Before you can prune & propagate Burro’s Tail, you’ll need to gather your equipment. This plant grows by trailing stems with overlapping juicy leaves. I prefer to use to use a pot that’s taller than wider which will anchor those somewhat heavy stems down in the light mix. This is especially true if the cuttings you take are longer.
– Cuttings. The ones I took were about 16″ long but I cut them down to about 10″.
– Pot. I used a 4″ grow pot with taller sides.
– Succulent & cactus mix—this is a succulent plant. Use succulent & cactus mix so that it drains well & is light enough for those roots to easily push out. I use 1 which is produced locally – this one is good too. If your mix is heavier, you may want to up the ante on the drainage factor by adding some pumice or perlite.
I don’t add any compost or worm compost at this point. I save that for when the cuttings are rooted & I transplant them.
– Chopsticks for creating holes to stick the stems into. I normally use these but this time it was a popsicle stick.
– Floral pins. While not necessary, they’re great to keep handy for thinner, top-heavy cuttings like this. They’ll keep them in place while the roots take. These aren’t a 1-time wonder – you can reuse them for years.
– Fiskars snippers – these are my go to’s for more delicate pruning jobs like this.
The materials; minus the Fiskar snippers.
Procedure to Propagate a Burro’s Tail Succulent
One of the greatest things about Burro’s Tail is how easy it is to propagate. Once fully grown, which can take about six years, they can get to around 4’+ long. My Burro’s Tail, which I brought from Santa Barbara to Tucson as small cuttings, was growing long and quite a few of the stems were bare in the middle. Time to prune and propagate!
The Burro’s Tail before the pruning. A few of the stems would have hit the ground by summer. Plus, I wanted to get rid of the majority of those bare middle stems.
Start by cutting the stems to the desired length using your Fiskars clippers or a similar tool. You want to make sure they’re clean & sharp. Once you cut the stem to length, peel off the bottom 1/3 of the leaves. These leaves can also be used to propagate new plants. Allow the stems to heal off so the cut ends callus over for up to 5 days. It’s hot in Tucson now so I only needed to heal mine over for 1 day.
After the stems have healed off, it’s time to plant. Prepare the pot by adding in your succulent & cactus mix. Once the Burro’s Tail takes root & you’ve transplanted it, you can add worm castings and compost every spring to enrich the soil.
After you have the pot ready, use a chopstick, pencil or popsicle stick to poke a hole in the mix. These are great to use when working with thinner stemmed cuttings. Stick the cuttings into the newly created hole & fill in back in with the mix. Pin the stem down with the floral pins. The weight of the stems may pull them out if not anchored down.
Put the pot in a bright light. Let the cuttings & the mix stay dry for 1-3 days. Then, water the mix thoroughly.
The cuttings all in a row & ready to be planted.
How To Maintain Your Cuttings:
I place cuttings in my utility room which has a skylight. The light is bright but there’s no direct sun. You don’t want to overwater them as that’ll cause the stems to rot out. Just keep the soil lightly moist until the roots are established. Not too wet or too dry. I’ll water mine every 5-7 days because it’s very warm here in July. You may need to water less often depending on your temps & humidity.
The cuttings after being planted. Looks a little like a baby octopus to me. Riley cat doesn’t seem too impressed at all!
Good To Know:
Spring & summer are the best times to propagate a Burro’s Tail.
There is another Sedum very similar to this one called Burrito or Baby Burro’s Tail. It has smaller, tighter, rounder leaves. You propagate it the same way you do a Burro’s Tail.
Here are Sedum morganium “Burrito” cuttings waiting to grow so they can be sold. You can see the difference in the leaves.
The leaves fall off this plant even if you just give it a gentle touch.
Once the leaves have fallen off the stems, new leaves won’t grow back on the bare sections. I had someone ask me this question & wanted to share this info in case you were wondering too. That’s why I cut my Burro’s Tail stems off at the tops of the bare areas – you’ll see me doing this in the video in case you don’t understand.
I prune my Burro’s Tail plants every 2-3 years to rejuvenate & stimulate new growth at the top.
The Burro’s Tail after the pruning. There are still a few bare stems & I’ll eventually cut them off. New growth is emerging at the top & that’s what this pruning will encourage.
Be sure to let your cuttings heal over for 1-5 days before planting.
After 2 months have passed, your cuttings should be rooted .
Stem cuttings aren’t the only thing that can be used to propagate Burro’s Tail succulent. You can also use the leaves that have fallen off to create new plants. Unlike with clippings, you don’t have to let them heal off so long. Instead, you can plant them in the mix right away. Keep it moist by misting until the leaves take root. You’ll eventually see baby plants appearing where the leaves were attached to the stems.
Once fully grown, which can take about six years, Burro’s Tails can grow to 6′ long. The longest mine have gotten is about 4′.
Propagating a Burro’s Tails succulent is simple and you can grow new plants without much hassle at all.
I love the way this plant looks – the unique way the leaves lay is so interesting. I’ve even worn a long stem as a living necklace. It was quite the conversation piece!
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