Why is My Donkey Tail Shriveling? Causes and Solutions

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Donkey tail plants, also known as burro’s tail or Sedum morganianum, are a popular succulent known for their cascading appearance and distinctive tail-like appearance. These plants are easy to grow and care for, making them a favorite among houseplant enthusiasts. However, there may come a time when you notice your donkey tail shriveling, causing concern and leaving you questioning what might have gone wrong.

There are several factors that could cause your donkey tail plant to shrivel, among which dehydration, malnutrition, sunburn, and infestations are the most common. Understanding the reasons for this issue and how to properly care for your donkey tail can help you identify the root cause and take the necessary steps to revive your beloved succulent. Necessary steps include providing an appropriate amount of sunlight and water, ensuring a well-draining soil, and periodically checking for pests and diseases.

Why Is My Donkey Tail Shriveling?

Signs of a Shriveling Donkey Tail

There are several reasons why your donkey tail might be shriveling. The most common causes include dehydration, malnutrition, and inadequate sunlight exposure. In this section, we’ll explore these factors and provide you with essential information to identify and address the issue.

Dehydration: Donkeys need access to adequate water sources to stay hydrated. If your donkey is not getting enough water, it may result in the tail appearing shriveled due to dehydration. Additionally, excessive sweating during hot weather can lead to dehydration as well. Make sure to provide ample water access for your donkey to avoid dehydration (source).

Malnutrition: A lack of proper nutrients in a donkey’s diet can cause the tail to shrivel. Ensuring that your donkey receives a balanced and nutrient-rich diet will help maintain its overall health and prevent the tail from shriveling (source).

Inadequate Sunlight: Donkey tail succulents, such as Sedum Donkey’s Tail plants, require sufficient sunlight for optimum growth. These plants thrive best in partial sun or bright shade, with at least four hours of sunlight per day (source). Excessive direct sunlight can cause sunburn, leading to shriveling, while inadequate sunlight will also negatively impact the plant’s health. Be sure to provide the appropriate amount of sunlight for your donkey tail succulent.

In some cases, your donkey tail might be shriveling due to an infestation of pests or disease (source). It’s essential to regularly check the leaves for signs of insects or fungal diseases that could be causing the problem. By promptly treating any identified issues, you’ll help your donkey tail maintain its health and appearance.

To summarize, the possible reasons for a shriveling donkey tail include dehydration, malnutrition, inadequate sunlight exposure, or even pests and diseases. By properly monitoring the condition and environment of your donkey or donkey tail plant, you can take the necessary steps to ensure its well-being and prevent shrinkage.

Common Causes for Donkey Tail to Shriveling


Underwatering is one of the main reasons why a donkey tail might shrivel. Succulents like the donkey tail need regular water to thrive, but they also require their soil to dry out completely between waterings. When not provided with adequate water, the leaves and stems of the donkey tail plant may begin to appear wrinkled and shriveled. To avoid underwatering, monitor the soil moisture and water the plant when it feels dry to the touch.


On the opposite end of the spectrum, overwatering can also lead to a shriveling donkey tail. Succulents are highly susceptible to root rot from excessive moisture, which may cause the leaves and stems to shrivel as the plant struggles to absorb nutrients. Maintain a proper watering schedule, and ensure that the donkey tail is planted in well-draining soil and an appropriate container to prevent waterlogged conditions.

Temperature Stress

Temperature stress can also cause a donkey tail to shrivel. These plants prefer mild temperatures and may become stressed when exposed to extreme heat or cold. During hot weather, ensure the donkey tail has access to enough water to prevent dehydration. In colder temperatures, consider moving the plant to a more sheltered location or indoors to protect it from extreme temperature fluctuations.

Lack of Sunlight

Lack of sunlight is another factor that may lead to shriveling in donkey tail plants. As succulents, they require plenty of bright light to maintain proper growth and overall health. Without sufficient light, the plant’s leaves and stems may lose their plump appearance and begin to shrivel. To address this issue, ensure the donkey tail is placed in a spot that receives ample sunlight throughout the day.

Nutrient Deficiency

Lastly, nutrient deficiency can play a role in the shriveling of a donkey tail plant. Insufficient nutrients can lead to a range of problems, including poor growth and shriveling leaves and stems. To prevent nutrient deficiencies, use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer designed specifically for succulents and adhere to the recommended feeding schedule. This will ensure that your donkey tail plant receives an adequate supply of essential nutrients for optimum growth and health.

Diagnosis and Prevention Tips

Investigating Possible Causes

Dehydration and malnutrition are two main reasons why a donkey’s tail might shrivel. Dehydration can occur when the donkey doesn’t have access to enough water, or if they’re sweating excessively (for example, during hot weather) source. On the other hand, malnutrition can happen when the donkey isn’t getting enough of the right nutrients in their diet source. Moreover, a vitamin A deficiency might be a potential cause, as it is essential for proper skin and coat health source.

Implementing Prevention Measures

To prevent your donkey’s tail from shriveling, follow these tips:

  • Ensure proper hydration: Always provide your donkey with access to clean, fresh water to prevent dehydration.
  • Offer a balanced diet: Make sure your donkey is receiving a well-balanced diet with the proper nutrients needed to maintain their overall health.
  • Monitor Vitamin A levels: Keep an eye on your donkey’s diet to ensure they’re receiving enough Vitamin A, which supports healthy skin and coat source.
  • Observe weather conditions: During hot weather, provide your donkey with shelter or shade to reduce excessive sweating and possible dehydration.
  • Regular health check-ups: Schedule routine veterinary visits to monitor your donkey’s overall health and address any underlying issues early on.

By following these prevention measures, you can minimize the risk of your donkey’s tail shriveling and maintain their overall wellbeing.

How to Revive a Shriveling Donkey Tail

Watering Techniques

One common reason for a shriveling donkey tail is improper watering. Ensure that you water your donkey tail only when the soil is completely dry. During the plant’s growing period in summer, consider watering it once every 10-15 days. In winter, when the plant is dormant, refrain from watering it.

Pruning and Propagation

Black stems or spots on your donkey tail can be a sign of rot. To salvage your plant, you might need to perform a little surgery. Cut off the top part of the plant, trim away any black spots, and let the cutting dry for 3-5 days. After that, you can propagate the cutting in fresh soil. Propagation can also be done by cutting at the base of the stem that you want to propagate, and placing it in a fresh potting soil.


Fertilizing your donkey tail can help prevent shriveling. These plants need nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for their overall health. Follow the recommended dosage and frequency found on your chosen fertilizer to keep your plant healthy and thriving.

Light and Temperature Adjustment

Donkey tails require sufficient sunlight. Make sure they receive ample amounts of it. Adjust your plant’s location to ensure it gets enough sunlight throughout the day. Keep in mind, it is also essential to maintain the right temperature for your donkey tail, as extreme temperatures can contribute to its shriveling.

Wrap-up and Future Care

Taking proper care of your donkey tail plant is essential in preventing shriveling. Here are some crucial steps to ensure its health and wellness:

  • Watering: Find the right balance between underwatering and overwatering, as both can cause shriveling. Make sure your donkey tail is in well-draining soil, and only water it when the soil is dry to prevent root rot. Also, be cautious during hot weather to avoid dehydration 1.
  • Light exposure: Donkey tails need bright light but can suffer from sunburn if they receive too much direct sunlight. Place your donkey tail in an area that provides ample light without causing harm 2.
  • Inspect for pests and diseases: Regularly examine your plant for signs of insects or fungal diseases, as these can lead to shriveling. Address any infestations promptly to maintain your donkey tail’s overall health 3.
  • Nutrition: Providing proper nutrients is vital for your donkey tail to thrive. A deficiency in essential nutrients like vitamin A can cause skin and hair issues, leading to shriveling 4.

In summary, proper care is the key to maintaining a healthy donkey tail plant, preventing shriveling and ensuring it stays vibrant and beautiful. By addressing your plant’s hydration needs, finding the perfect light exposure, inspecting for problems, and offering the right nutrients, you can help your donkey tail remain happy and healthy.