Donkey Tail Plant vs Burros Tail: Ultimate Succulent Comparison

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Donkey tail and burro’s tail plants are two distinct types of succulents often mistaken for each other, thanks to their similar cascading growth habit and appearance. Visual and structural differences exist between these two fascinating plants, which can make a significant impact on your choice of succulent for your living space. For gardeners and plant enthusiasts looking to grow and care for a trailing succulent, this article sheds light on the unique features of donkey tail and burro’s tail to help make an informed decision.

The donkey tail plant (Sedum morganianum) and burro’s tail plant (Sedum burrito) belong to the Sedum genus and are both native to Mexico. They both boast long, lush tails that can reach up to 3-4 feet – making them ideal candidates for hanging baskets, or containers that allow the plants to trail downward. Interestingly, a primary difference between these two species lies in the shape of their leaves. Donkey tail’s leaves are larger and pointed, while burro’s tail leaves are more round and bead-like in shape, growing tightly packed around the stem.

In addition to leaf geometry, other subtle differences between donkey tail and burro’s tail plants may sway your decision in choosing one over the other. The donkey tail produces unique flowers, as they are initially wrapped and protected by green leaves before blossoming. Both plants prefer high amounts of sunlight and minimal watering, thriving in south or west-facing windows when grown indoors. As you consider these factors, understanding the characteristics of donkey tail and burro’s tail plants will lead to a rewarding and visually stunning addition to your home or garden.

Donkey Tail Plant

Origin and Growth Habits

The Donkey Tail Plant, also known as Sedum morganianum, is a popular succulent native to southern Mexico and Honduras. This stunning plant is characterized by its trailing stems that can grow up to 4 feet long, densely packed with fleshy, pale blue-green or gray-green leaves. These leaves spiral tightly around the stem and are coated with farina, a natural epicuticular wax that protects the plant from sun damage and helps repel water to prevent rotting.

Care and Maintenance

Taking care of a Donkey Tail Plant is relatively easy since it is a low-maintenance succulent:

  • Light: Provide plenty of bright, indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight can damage the leaves.
  • Water: Water sparingly, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. Overwatering can cause leaf loss and root rot.
  • Soil: Use a well-draining soil mix, such as a cactus or succulent mix.

It’s essential to avoid overwatering since these plants tend to lose leaves more easily when well-hydrated. The leaves will become soft and wrinkly, indicating when the plant is in need of water.

Propagation Techniques

Propagating Donkey Tail Plants can be achieved through the following methods:

  1. Leaf Propagation
    • Gently remove a healthy leaf from the stem.
    • Allow the leaf to dry out and callous over for a day or two.
    • Place the leaf on top of moist, well-draining soil and mist occasionally.
    • In a few weeks, roots and new growth will start to form.
  2. Stem Cuttings
    • Cut a healthy section of the stem with leaves attached.
    • Let the cut end dry out and callous over for a day or two.
    • Plant the cutting in a well-draining soil mix, keeping the soil lightly moist.
    • New roots should begin to form in a few weeks.

By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to enjoy the beauty of a thriving Donkey Tail Plant in your home or garden.

Burro’s Tail

Origin and Growth Habits

Burro’s Tail, also known as Sedum ‘Burrito’, is a popular succulent plant native to Mexico. This attractive plant is known for its long, trailing stems and plump, bead-like leaves that are more round in shape compared to its close relative, the Donkey Tail. The leaves of a Burro’s Tail are smaller and more compact than those of a Donkey Tail, giving the plant a unique appearance.

The Burro’s Tail plant can reach lengths of 3-4 feet when properly cared for, making it a stunning addition to hanging baskets or arrangements where the trailing stems can be displayed to their full potential.

Care and Maintenance

Caring for a Burro’s Tail plant is relatively simple. It thrives in well-draining soil, and it’s essential to avoid overwatering to prevent root rot. Place the plant in a location that receives bright, indirect light for optimal growth.

  • Watering: Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings, then water thoroughly.
  • Light: Provide bright, indirect light for most of the day. Avoid direct sunlight, as it may cause leaf scorching.
  • Temperature: Maintain temperatures between 65°F and 75°F. Protect the plant from drafts and sudden temperature changes.
  • Soil: Use a well-draining, sandy or loamy soil mix formulated specifically for succulents.
  • Fertilizing: Feed the plant with a diluted succulent fertilizer once or twice during the growing season.

Propagation Techniques

Propagating a Burro’s Tail plant is an easy process that involves either leaf or stem cuttings. Follow these simple steps for successful propagation:

  1. Leaf Cuttings: Gently twist a healthy leaf from the stem, making sure to remove the entire leaf, including the base. Allow the leaf to dry for a few days to form a callus, then place it on top of moist, well-draining soil. Roots and new growth should appear within a few weeks.
  2. Stem Cuttings: Using a clean, sharp pair of scissors or pruners, cut a 3-4 inch piece of stem from the mother plant. Allow the cutting to dry for a few days, then plant it in moist, well-draining soil. Keep the soil slightly moist until roots have established and new growth appears.

Once the new Burro’s Tail plant is well-established and showing signs of healthy growth, continue providing it with the appropriate care to ensure it flourishes.

Comparison of Key Differences

Visual Differences

Donkey tail and burro’s tail plants are both succulent types belonging to the Sedum morganianum family but with noticeable distinctions. One primary difference is that donkey tail leaves are larger and lance-shaped, forming loose clusters around the stem. In contrast, burro’s tail has round, bead-like leaves that are more tightly packed along the stem.

Moreover, donkey tail leaves tend to be longer and pointed, while burro’s tail has rounded and more densely compacted leaves. Overall, donkey tail plants exhibit crescent-shaped leaves, while burro’s tail features a more compact, rounded appearance.

Growing Conditions

Both of these succulent plants have similar requirements for growing. They thrive in hot, dry climates with ample sunlight. However, each has its own specific needs.

Donkey tail succulents generally require higher humidity levels and tend to grow best when placed in a partially shaded location with bright, indirect light. Over-watering can lead to issues such as rotting, so it’s essential to allow the soil to dry between watering. Donkey tail plants prefer well-draining soil mixed with additional perlite or pumice to minimize root rot risk.

On the other hand, burro’s tail plants can tolerate somewhat lower humidity levels than donkey tail. Like their counterparts, burro’s tail favors well-draining soil that can dry out between watering. These hardy plants can withstand more direct sunlight but also grow adequately in bright indirect light. An ideal location for them is a window sill offering a mix of sun and shade.

In summary, both donkey tail and burro’s tail plants are similar succulents with distinct visual differences and slightly varying humidity preferences. Knowing these variations can help you better care for these unique plants and enjoy their beautiful growth.

Common Issues and Solutions

Pests and Diseases

Succulents like the burro’s tail and donkey tail plants can occasionally suffer from pests like mealybugs, spider mites, or aphids. To treat these infestations, you can gently remove the pest with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or use insecticidal soap. Make sure to isolate the affected plant to avoid spreading the infestation to other plants.

The plants can also be prone to fungal diseases due to overwatering or high humidity. Prevent fungal issues by allowing the soil to dry out between waterings, providing good air circulation, and avoiding splashing water on the leaves.

Overwatering and Underwatering

Both donkey tail and burro’s tail plants require a well-draining soil mix to prevent overwatering. A suitable mix is the “soak and dry” method, commonly used for drought-tolerant succulents. To do this, water the plants thoroughly, then allow the soil to dry out before watering again. Overwatered plants may exhibit mushy or discolored leaves, while underwatered plants may appear shriveled or wilted.

To determine when to water your plants, pay close attention to their leaves. A healthy donkey tail plant should have blue-green, lance-shaped leaves1. On the other hand, burro’s tail should have round, bead-shaped leaves. If the leaves are changing color or losing their firmness, adjust the watering schedule accordingly.

Light and Temperature

Donkey tail and burro’s tail plants can tolerate a range of light conditions, but they do best in bright, indirect sunlight. If the leaves are turning gray or dull green, it’s likely a sign that your plant is getting too much harsh light2. Conversely, if the plant is stretching or becoming leggy, it may need more light.

Proper temperature is also important for these plants. They can thrive in temperatures ranging from 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C). If the temperature dips below this range, the plants may enter dormancy or freeze3. Gardeners living in USDA zones 9-11 should have no problem growing these versatile plants outdoors.


In summary, the main differences between the donkey tail and the burro’s tail plants lie in their leaf sizes, shapes, and overall appearance. Donkey tail has larger leaves that are longer and more pointed, while burro’s tail features more rounded, bead-shaped leaves that are tightly packed around the stem.

Both plants, however, share some similarities in their care requirements. They both thrive on high amounts of sunlight and minimal watering, making them ideal for hanging baskets or containers that allow them to trail without much movement. For plant enthusiasts in the midwest, it’s best to place these plants in a south or west facing window indoors.

When deciding which plant to choose for your home, consider their unique traits and the aesthetic you hope to achieve. The donkey tail with its unique flower and larger size might be more striking, while the burro’s tail offers a more delicate and compact appearance. No matter which succulent you select, keep in mind their care needs to ensure they grow healthy and strong over time.

It’s also important to note that both plants have fragile leaves, with burro’s tail reportedly being less delicate than donkey tail. Handle both plants with care to avoid damaging or breaking their leaves. With proper attention and care, either succulent can make a stunning addition to your indoor or outdoor garden.

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