The donkey's tail (Sedum morganianum) is a popular and easy-to-grow trailing succulent with rows of fleshy, tear-dropped shaped leaves. It may also be called lamb's tail, burro's tail, or horses tail—or you might see closely related Sedum carrying any of these names. These plants make excellent hanging subjects, or they can be used as trailers in small pots. A mature specimen might have branches up to 2 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 in red, yellow or white.
Light: Full sun. Perfect for a sunny window.
Water: Water during the summer and spring, making sure drainage is immaculate. Reduce water in the winter to monthly.
Temperature: Prefers average summer temps (65ºF - 70ºF). In winter, can survive at 40ºF, but prefers it slightly warmer.
Soil: A well-drained succulent mix, with an ideal pH around 6.0 (slightly acidic).
Fertilizer: Feed with a controlled-release fertilizer in the beginning of the season or weekly with a weak liquid solution. Use a balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer at 1/4 strength on mature plants, and a fertilizer with less nitrogen on young plants.
By seed or by cuttings. Individual leaves can be sprouted by placing them into a succulent or cacti mix, then covering the dish until they sprout. Large plants can also also be divided during repotting.
Repot as needed, preferably during the warm season. To repot a succulent, make sure the soil is dry before repotting, then gently remove the pot. Knock away the old soil from the roots, making sure to remove any rotted or dead roots in the process. Treat any cuts with a fungicide. Place the plant in its new pot and backfill with potting soil, spreading the roots out as you repot. Leave the plant dry for a week or so, then begin to water lightly to reduce the risk of root rot.
The donkey's tail (S. morganianum) is one of several hundred sedum species within the crassulaceae genera of succulents, but only a few of them are trailing. Another trailing Sedum is the S. sieboldii mediovariegatum. The popular Sedum have generally similar growth requirements.
Donkey's tails are pretty forgiving plants—if you forget to water them once or twice, they'll probably be just fine. If you want your plant to really thrive, make sure to provide strong light, fertilizer during the growing season, and adequate moisture during the growing season. Too often, these are left to fend for themselves, simply because they can. But with a little effort, the plant can be a remarkable specimen.
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