Why Is My Donkey Tail Plant So Pale? Causes & Solutions

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Donkey tail plants, also known as Sedum morganianum or burro’s tail, are eye-catching succulents popular for their trailing stems and plump, bead-like leaves. However, these attractive indoor plants can sometimes develop a pale appearance, leaving growers wondering what they might be doing wrong. Pale leaves can be a result of various factors, such as inadequate sunlight, overwatering, or sunburn.

To maintain a healthy, thriving donkey tail plant, it’s important to strike the right balance between light, water, and temperature. These succulents require bright, indirect sunlight, as direct sunlight may cause their leaves to lose color and get sunburned. On the other hand, insufficient sunlight can lead to a yellowish, pale appearance and shedding of leaves. Careful monitoring of your plant’s water needs is equally crucial, because overwatering may cause the leaves to turn pale and mushy.

Understanding Donkey Tail Plant


The Donkey Tail Plant, also known as Sedum morganianum or Burro’s Tail succulent, is an evergreen plant known for its long, trailing stems covered with fleshy leaves. These beautiful and versatile plants have a moist and juicy nature, with bluish-green foliage that can sometimes have a powdery, whitish bloom. Donkey Tail plants produce flowers that are not flashy, and they are not entirely dependent on fertilizer to bloom.

Ideal Growing Conditions

When it comes to growing a healthy Donkey Tail Plant, certain conditions must be met:

  • Lighting: These plants prefer bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight may cause the leaves to become pale or even burnt.
  • Soil: Use a well-draining, porous soil mix. This prevents the plant from sitting in water, which can lead to rotting.
  • Watering: Donkey Tail plants need to be watered sparingly, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. Overwatering can cause the leaves to fall off and the stems to collapse due to rot.
  • Fertilizing: Since flowering isn’t the main focus of this plant, limit the use of fertilizer to the growing season, no more than once a month. Too much liquid fertilizer can cause root rot.
  • Potting: Grow Donkey Tail plants in a shallow hanging container with drainage holes, as this helps provide enough space for the trailing stems and allows excess water to escape.
  • Temperature and Humidity: These plants prefer moderate temperatures and low humidity. It’s essential to keep them away from extreme cold or hot conditions.

By maintaining these ideal growing conditions, your Donkey Tail Plant should thrive and maintain its vibrant color. However, if you notice that your plant is very pale, it might be due to insufficient indirect light or imbalances in its care conditions. Make the necessary adjustments and be sure to monitor the plant closely for improvements.

Reasons for Pale Donkey Tail Plant

Insufficient Sunlight

One possible reason for a pale Donkey Tail plant is insufficient sunlight. These plants require bright, indirect light to maintain their vibrant color. If your plant is not getting enough sunlight, its leaves may turn pale and lose their natural green hue. To ensure your plant receives the appropriate amount of light, place it near a bright window with filtered sunlight, or provide supplemental lighting using a grow light.


Overwatering can also cause a Donkey Tail plant to turn pale. When plants receive too much water, their roots can become waterlogged, leading to root rot and nutrient deficiencies. A sign of overwatering is when the leaves turn pale or mushy, and eventually fall off. To prevent this issue, water your Donkey Tail plant only when the soil is dry, following a proper watering schedule.

Poor Soil

The soil in which your Donkey Tail plant is growing may also contribute to its pale appearance. These plants require well-draining soil to prevent root rot and ensure proper nutrient absorption. If the soil is too dense or retains too much moisture, it can lead to nutrient deficiencies, causing the plant’s leaves to turn pale or yellow. To improve soil quality, consider using a soil mix specifically designed for succulents.

Pest Infestation

Finally, an infestation of pests such as aphids can cause your Donkey Tail plant to become pale and unhealthy. Aphids feed on the plant’s sap, which weakens it and leads to discolored foliage. To treat an infestation, use a safe insecticide and monitor your plant closely to catch any future aphid attacks before they cause significant harm.

How to Revive a Pale Donkey Tail Plant

Adjusting Sunlight Exposure

One of the primary reasons your donkey tail plant may appear pale is due to excessive sunlight exposure. To help your plant regain its color, gradually move it to a location where it receives more indirect or filtered sunlight. Donkey tail plants thrive in bright but indirect sunlight, so finding the right balance is essential for their overall health.

Watering Correctly

Overwatering or underwatering can also cause your donkey tail plant to become pale. To ensure proper watering, allow the soil to dry out between watering sessions. Insert your finger about an inch into the soil, and if it’s dry, then it’s time to water. Remember that succulents like the donkey tail plant can tolerate periods of drought, so it’s better to err on the side of underwatering to avoid root rot.

Improving Soil Quality

The right soil mix is crucial for a healthy donkey tail plant. Use a well-draining soil mix that provides excellent aeration. One way to achieve this is to combine equal parts of regular potting soil, perlite, and coarse sand. This combination ensures that excess moisture drains away from the plant’s roots, preventing issues like root rot, which can cause your plant to become pale and unhealthy.

Treating Pests

While donkey tail plants are not particularly prone to pest infestations, they can still fall victim to aphids. These small insects can cause the leaves to change color and eventually fall off. Keep an eye on your plant and take prompt action if you notice any sign of aphid infestation. Use a gentle insecticide or try using soapy water to treat your plant and remove the aphids.

By addressing these common issues and making necessary adjustments, you can help revive your pale donkey tail plant and maintain its health and beauty. Remember that consistency is key, so monitor your plant closely and take timely action to ensure its well-being.

Preventive Measures for a Healthy Donkey Tail Plant

Regular Care

To maintain a healthy Donkey Tail plant, it’s essential to provide well-draining cacti or succulent soil. A balanced water schedule ensures your plant thrives without being overwatered or under-watered. It is recommended that you water your Donkey Tail plant every 14-21 days. Fertilize your plant once a month during the spring and summer months for optimal growth.

When planting your Donkey Tail, prepare a shallow container with well-drained soil. Then, poke a hole in the soil with a pencil, place your plant cutting in the soil up to its leaves, and mist the soil and leaf tips with a spray bottle as instructed by Epic Gardening.

Monitoring Environmental Factors

Bearing in mind the temperature requirements of the Donkey Tail plant is critical for its growth. Aim for a consistent temperature between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 23 degrees Celsius) whether your plant is indoors or outdoors.

Additionally, lighting plays a significant role in the health of your Donkey Tail plant. Providing bright, indirect light helps maintain a vibrant color and prevents the plant from becoming pale.

Here are some environmental factors to monitor:

  • Temperature: Maintaining 65-75°F (18-23°C)
  • Lighting: Providing bright indirect light
  • Soil: Using well-draining cacti or succulent soil
  • Water: Regular watering every 14-21 days
  • Fertilization: Monthly during the spring and summer

By following proper care guidelines and closely monitoring environmental factors, you can keep your Donkey Tail plant healthy and avoid pale leaves. Remember that every plant is unique, so always pay attention to its specific needs and adjust your care routine accordingly.

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