Burro’s Tail is one of the favorite succulents, particularly in the US. Central and Western dry climate suits it well, and it can survive both inside and outside (if you do not expose it to extreme sunlight or cold). Generally this succulent is easy to take care of, and it isn’t particularly vulnerable when it comes to pests and diseases. Perhaps the biggest problem is the wrinkling (or shriveling) of leaves. In my experience, one of ten people experience this issue at least once with their Sedum Morganianum, and now we will look at three main causes of the issue, and how you can address them.
Before we dive into the details, let me give you a quick answer to the question: Burro’s Tail wrinkled leaves suggest either over-watering, or under-watering, or bad balance of nutrients in the soil. In 95% of cases one of the three is to blame. But which one is the case with your Burro’s Tail? That’s easy to find out, as long as you follow the suggestions I am going to outline below. Let’s start with the probably most common cause of wrinkled leaves–over watering.
Over-watering as no. 1 cause of wrinkled leaves of your Burro’s Tail.
We all know how it goes–you like your new succulent, you want to give it the best possible care. But just like it is with people, giving too much care and paying too much attention can sometimes hurt the plant. Sedum is a succulent, and most succulents are fine with watering frequency of once a week or once two weeks. Of course it depends on the dryness of the air, temperature where you live, place where you keep your succulent, how old and big it is, and on many other factors. As a rule of a thumb though, if you water your Burro’s Tail more than once a week indoors, it is almost for sure over-watered.
Go and check the dryness of the soil. No need to use elaborate tools like moisture meter. Just put your finger into the soil, at least two inches deep. Is the soil moist? Does it stick to your fingers? If it does, and you haven’t watered your Burro’s Tail recently, chances are high you are simply watering it too often. Now, excess water isn’t the direct cause of wrinkled leaves. It is root rot, which is caused by the excessive watering. When root system starts rotting it cannot transfer the water and the nutrients to the body of the Burro’s Tail properly, and hence leaves start to wrinkle, and your succulent may eventually die…
Addressing over-watering as a cause of shriveled leaves of your Sedum
I have both good and bad news for you here. Good news is that if the over-watering didn’t last for too long, and the root system isn’t terminally damaged, as long as you immediately change the watering schedule (making it less frequent), and perhaps even replant the succulent to new dry soil, you can still save your plant. Succulents are one of the plants that can regenerate. When replanting it, you may even cut away the rotten parts of roots (but leave at least some roots on the plant!), and if you do it well, it will recuperate and look beautiful again.
The bad news is that if the problem has been going on for too long, and if the roots are terminally damaged (there are barely any healthy parts left), you cannot save your burro’s tail anymore. Time to shed a tear, throw the plant to compost, and start with a new one. Lesson learned, and I am sure you won’t repeat the same mistake again…
Under-watering as the 2nd most common cause of Sedum Morganianum wrinkled leaves
When you rule out over-watering as the cause of the problem (and make sure to do so before you proceed further, since over-watering is 10 times more common in succulents than under-watering), you should think whether you actually didn’t give your succulent too little water. You know how it goes: We are busy with work, and with all sort of other stuff. Maybe you’ve been going through a rough period lately, and problems occupied your mind. Time flew by and without really realizing it, you didn’t water your plants for three weeks.
If that’s the case, the shriveled leaves of your Burro’s Tail may simply indicate that there isn’t enough liquid in them, which means that you didn’t give your plant enough water. Again, you an check the soil for dryness with your finger. If it is dry like a desert, under-watering likely caused the undesired appearance of your Burro’s Tail leaves.
Addressing under-watered Burro’s Tail is no rocket science
As you can imagine, addressing any under-watered plant is no rocket science. If someone is thirsty, you give them water. And it is exactly the same story with your beloved succulent. Water it immediately, but make sure you use a pot with drainage hole, and also that you do not drown it in water…
Under-watered succulent can drink a lot, but you should remember plants do not like extreme shocks of any nature. Soak it as it would soak in a rain in its natural environment, but then let the soil dry completely and just after that water it again. The most important thing here is to have at least some regularity, so you do not forget to water your sedum for three weeks again. Perhaps you can set up a notification on your phone or something similar, to make sure you know when to water your plants.
Bad balance of nutrients in the soil as no. 3 main cause of Burro’s Tail wrinkled leaves
Many people think that since succulents are native to semi-desert areas, they can sustain any type of environment, and will thrive in any soil. And while some succulents can really sustain almost anything, Burro’s Tail does not belong to the group. It likes certain acidity of soil, and certain nutrients like phosphorus for example.
Now, I do not want to go into technical details here, since for 95% of growers it makes no sense to bother with them. The key lesson here is that you should plant your Sedum in a soil that’s designed for succulent and cacti (either you can buy it or you can make your own), and not in a soil that’s meant for completely different plants, or even for the vegetables in the garden.
If you planted your Burro’s Tail in some random soil or fertilized it too much, it can either cause a certain form of damage to the root system (burning), or it can impair the plant roots’ ability to deliver the water enriched with necessary nutrients to the leaves of the plant. As a result they will either shrivel, or they will change color. Hence if any of that happened and you rule out the possibility of over-watering or under-watering your Sedum, the chances are high bad soil is to blame. Remedy is quite simple here: Repot your Donkey’s Tail, and use the right soil mix this time :).
In general, Burro’s Tail is easy to grow, and you won’t experience many problems with it. If you over-water or under-water it, or make a bad choice when buying soil for your succulents, however, you may notice wrinkled leaves on your plant. Try to address the cause as early as possible. Follow this post for instructions on how to identify the issue, and how to address it. If you act quickly, you will soon enjoy your sedum in full beauty again :). Thank you for reading!
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