Over-watered Burro’s Tail: Signs & Remedies

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Burro’s Tail, a crowd favorite, an easy to grow succulent that will immediately catch the eye of your visitors. Who would not want to have at least one plant at home? Sedum Morganianum (Latin name for Burro’s Tail) isn’t vulnerable to pests or fungi infestations. But it is prone to over-watering, which is the reason no.1 one why many growers never see this fantastic succulent reach its full beauty, and also the most common reason while your burro’s tail may die. In this article we will look at most common signs of over-watering in burro’s tail, and also how to address the problem. Let’s start!


You should always start with checking the moisture of the soil

Over-watering is the most common issue with burro’s tail, but before you blame wrinkled leaves, or drooping plant, or changes of color to over-watering, you should always check the moisture of the soil first. Put your finger inside. If it is very wet and the soil sticks to your finger, and you haven’t watered the plant that recently, it is almost for sure over-watered.

Having a basic idea of the optimal watering frequency can also help here. If you water your burro’s tail twice a week and do not live in a summer in a desert, I can almost guarantee it is over-watered. On the contrary, if you water it just once in every two or three weeks, the chances are that the problems you see on the plant (such as shriveling leaves, changes in color, strange smell) are caused by something else (pests, sunburn, wrong use of fertilizer, under-watering, etc).


Over-watering causes root rot, the problem is you cannot see it

Many people do not understand correctly the chain of cause and effect when it comes to plants and their problems. For example, they see wrinkled leaves and think: This plant lacks water, shriveled leaves cannot be caused by over-watering. But this is a misconception. When you over-water your plant on an ongoing basis, what happens is that the rooting systems rots. And once it is rotten and doesn’t work as it should, it isn’t capable anymore of transporting water or nutrients to the leaves of your Burro’s Tail. Hence they will shrivel, and your plant may eventually die.

The problem is that you cannot see roots rotting, unless you dig a hole in the pot once in a while and check the health of the rooting system. But few people do this and it is a big disturbance for the succulent anyway. That’s why you have to look for secondary symptoms that indicate the problem. Let’s have a look at the most common.


Visible symptoms of over-watered Burro’s Tail

One of the most typical signs is shriveling of leaves. If the leaves shrivel, and especially leaves that are closer to the center of the plant, it is a clear sign that you gave your Sedum too much water, over a longer period of time. That’s because the rooting system isn’t capable of delivering the required nutrients to the plant anymore. The leaves do not get what they need, and hence they do not look as they should.

Another symptom are mushy leaves, or the “stem area”, if we can call it that way. Again the regulation mechanisms do not work as they should, and the root rot is progressing to the body of the plant. Last but not least, you can always check the moisture of the soil–if it stays moist for too long, if it virtually never dries, it is very likely that the rooting system has rotten, and the moisture simply stays in the soil since it cannot transport it… Now you should be able to identify the over-watering in your Burro’s Tail. Let’s have a look at what you can do to address it.

Burro’s Tail, in-detail picture


Remedy for mildly over-watered Burro’s Tail

What you can and should do once you diagnose the over-watering in your plant depends on how much damage has been done. And that in turn depends on for how long have you been giving too much water to your Burro’s Tail, but is also depends on how mature your plant is. Older mature plants are more versatile and they can survive over-watering for much longer than younger plants that simply lack robust and complex root system.

Anyway, if you spot the problem very early–like you over-watered your plant just for a week or two, or if you’ve done if for longer but we talk here about a mature healthy plant, the only remedy you have to take is stopping the watering until the soil is completely dry, and lessen your watering frequency.


Treating Burro’s Tail with mid-level of severity of over-watering requires more work

When you have a young plant, or you really did this for too long and already see some leaves shriveling or your plant getting mushy, or there’s a strange smell around the plant, you will have to do a bit more to save your Burro’s Tail from dying. Namely:

  1. Immediately remove the plant from the pot, and clean it from the current soil (likely wet and sticky).
  2. Cut away rotten parts of roots, or even rotten parts of the plant, if it can still be done without damaging the entire plant.
  3. Repot your Burro’s Tail to a new pot (or what remained of it), using the right potting mix (one for succulents), and make sure to use a pot with a drainage hole.
  4. Water more sparingly, so you do not have to repeat the process over and over again…


Severely over-watered Burro’s Tail cannot be saved

There are certain instances in life when we simply have to accept a defeat, and move on. You may encounter such situations even with your succulents… What I try to say here is that when the entire plant is mushy or shriveled, when you for one reason or another haven’t spot the problem earlier, you likely cannot save this exemplar of Burro’s Tail anymore.

You can still try taking it from the original pot and inspecting the roots for rot. Most likely though the entire rooting system will be irreversibly damaged and rotten, and in such a case you can just thank higher powers for this lesson, and move on. Not all battles can be won. As long as you learn from the experience, and do not repeat the same mistake with your new Sedum, you are good to go…. I wish you happy growing!


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