Jelly Bean Plant vs Donkey Tail: Succulent Showdown

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If you’re a fan of succulents, you’ve likely come across two popular varieties—jelly bean plants and donkey’s tail succulents. Both of these plants add unique textures and colors to your collection, and they can often be found alongside each other in garden centers. In this article, we’ll delve into the differences and similarities between these two intriguing species, helping you decide which one best suits your personal taste and gardening style.

Jelly bean plants, scientifically known as Sedum rubrotinctum, are charming succulents featuring plump, jelly bean-shaped leaves that often display shades of green and red. They’re relatively easy to care for and can be grown indoors or outdoors, making them a versatile choice for succulent enthusiasts. On the other hand, donkey’s tail (Sedum morganianum) is an eye-catching variety characterized by its trailing stems covered in densely packed, green, bean-shaped leaves, making it perfect for hanging baskets or cascading over garden walls.

As we explore the unique qualities of both jelly bean plants and donkey’s tail succulents, we’ll discuss their ideal growing conditions, best care practices, and how to incorporate them into your garden or home. So, whether you’re a seasoned succulent collector or a beginner gardener, you’re sure to find valuable insights into these captivating plant varieties.

Jelly Bean Plant and Donkey Tail: Overview

Origin and Habitat

The Jelly Bean Plant, scientifically known as Sedum rubrotinctum, is a succulent species originating in Mexico. It belongs to the Crassulaceae plant family. On the other hand, the Donkey Tail, also known as Sedum morganianum, is another popular succulent found in hanging baskets due to its trailing foliage. This plant also hails from Mexico, making both species quite similar in terms of their native habitat.

Physical Characteristics

Jelly Bean Plant

Jelly Bean Plant

The Jelly Bean Plant grows up to 7-8 inches in height and has a tendency to lean to one side. Its defining characteristic is the cylindrical, jelly bean-shaped leaves that grow up to 0.7 inches long. These leaves grow in spirals around the plant’s sprawling succulent stems. The plant produces star-shaped, delicate flowers, adding to its visual appeal.

An interesting variant of the Jelly Bean Plant is the Aurora jelly bean, which features lighter leaves with a pinkish blush, cream, and lime green colors. During summertime, the Aurora jelly bean blooms clusters of brilliant yellow flowers.

Donkey Tail

Donkey Tail Plant

The Donkey Tail features rows of fleshy, jelly bean-shaped leaves, similar to the Jelly Bean Plant. However, the leaves of the Donkey Tail are green in color. This plant is commonly grown indoors or outdoors, but it is especially admired as a hanging plant due to the foliage that trails beautifully out of the hanging basket. The Donkey Tail flourishes in full sunlight, making it an excellent option for bright, sunny spaces.

Cultivation and Care

Light Requirements

Jelly bean plants and donkey’s tail plants are both succulents that require bright, indirect light for optimal growth. Donkey’s tail can tolerate some direct sun for up to four hours per day, but too much direct sun can cause it to lose its bluish color and turn yellowish-green.

Watering Needs

Both jelly bean plants and donkey’s tails prefer a well-draining soil, and it’s essential to avoid overwatering. Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. Overwatering can lead to root rot, which can be fatal to these plants.

Soil Types and Fertilization

When it comes to soil, these succulents prefer a mixture that is well-draining and contains some coarse sand or small gravel to improve drainage. Regular potting soil can be amended with perlite or pumice to achieve the right consistency. Fertilization for both plants is minimal; jelly bean plants don’t require regular fertilizer, while an all-purpose cactus and succulent fertilizer can be applied in early to mid-spring if desired.

Temperature and Humidity

Jelly bean plants and donkey’s tails prefer warm temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They can tolerate cooler temperatures, but it’s important not to expose them to freezing temperatures, as it can damage the plants.

These succulents do not require high humidity and can thrive in relatively low-humidity environments. Too much moisture or humidity can lead to problems like rot, so avoid overly damp locations.

Propagation Methods

Both jelly bean plants and donkey’s tails are easy to propagate. For jelly bean plants, simply take a leaf or stem cutting, allow it to callous for a few days, and then place it on well-draining soil to root. The Sedum jelly bean plant will often root just by burying a stem in the soil. Donkey’s tails can be propagated similarly, by taking a cutting and placing it on the surface of well-draining soil until roots form.

Common Issues and Solutions


Jelly bean plants and donkey’s tail succulents can both be affected by pests, particularly mealybugs which cause distorted new growth and a whitish substance in the leaf axils. To tackle this issue, you can remove small infestations with a damp cloth or use a horticultural oil like Yates Conqueror Oil for severe cases.


Both plants are generally disease-resistant, but extra care should be taken to minimize their exposure to viruses and bacterial infections. Keep an eye out for signs of diseases such as yellowing leaves, or black spots, and maintain proper care to ensure they remain healthy.


Jelly bean plants and donkey’s tail succulents thrive on neglect, meaning overwatering is a common issue for these plants. To avoid this problem:

  • Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings
  • Use well-draining soil in a pot with drainage holes
  • Don’t water as frequently during cooler months

By following these simple guidelines, you can prevent issues like root rot and promote healthy growth in both plants.

Root Rot

Root rot can occur in both jelly bean plants and donkey’s tail succulents when they receive too much moisture. Some ways to prevent and address this issue are:

  • Ensure proper drainage with adequate holes in your pots
  • Use a well-draining soil mix
  • Remove any affected plants and quarantine them from the rest to prevent the spread of the issue

Taking care of the overwatering issue will most likely help in preventing root rot as well.

Remember to always monitor your jelly bean plants and donkey’s tail succulents for any signs of problems and address them promptly to ensure they remain healthy and vibrant.

Uses and Applications

Decorative Purposes

Jelly bean plants and donkey’s tail are popular succulents widely appreciated for decorative reasons. The jelly bean plant is a visually striking succulent, known for its unique “jelly bean” leaves that change colors depending on their sun exposure. It can enhance the visual appeal of both indoor and outdoor spaces, and it requires minimal maintenance.

The donkey’s tail is native to Mexico and forms semi-prostrate stems with dense blue-green leaves. These trailing plants are ideal for hanging baskets or adorning patio spaces with filtered light. Their distinct appearance brings visual texture and a lush green hue, making them a favorite among home gardeners.

In addition to their individual beauty, these plants can be used together to create eye-catching arrangements. A combination of jelly bean plants and donkey’s tail provides:

  • A diverse mix of colors, shapes, and textures
  • Interesting visual elements for any space
  • Low maintenance requirements

Air-Purifying Qualities

While succulents may not have the same air-purifying capabilities as some other houseplants, they still contribute positively to indoor air quality. They release oxygen during photosynthesis, promoting a healthier living environment. Both the jelly bean plant and the donkey’s tail can help in:

  • Increasing oxygen levels in the surrounding air
  • Reducing allergens to some extent
  • Improving overall indoor air quality

In conclusion, jelly bean plants and donkey’s tail are visually stunning, low maintenance plants that serve both decorative and functional purposes. As succulents, they require minimal attention to thrive, making them excellent choices for busy homeowners who want to add some natural charm to their indoor or outdoor spaces.

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