Why is my Burro’s Tail dying? Causes and Solutions

Last Updated: August 26, 2022

One of the most unique succulents out there, the Burro’s Tail is an incredible houseplant but they aren’t always the easiest to care for. This is why there are several factors that can cause your Burro’s Tail to start dying so it’s important to make the right diagnosis. 

Below we will be going through each of the main causes of a dying Burro’s Tail as well as how to spot the issue, treat it and prevent it from causing any more harm to your plant in future.

A dying Burro’s Tail can indicate low light levels

If the new growth on your Burro’s Tail is starting to look a little leggy and leaves are starting to fall off, then a lack of sunlight might be why your plant is dying. This can happen both in winter when the sun is weaker and out for less of the day but also in summer if your plant isn’t close enough to a window. This also can show up as slow or stunted growth. 

If you suspect that a lack of natural sunlight is the cause, start by placing your plant nearer to a window to help revive it. If this happens during winter, you can get away with placing it right by the window as the direct sun rays won’t be as intense as in summer. However, if this is happening during the height of summer, you’ll want to be a little more cautious as to how much extra sunlight you give your plant as too much light can also bring a range of issues such as burnt and scorched leaves and dried out plants.

Overwatering can also cause your Burro’s Tail to start dying

Too much moisture will kill your plant quicker than underwatering so it’s important this issue is diagnosed quickly. Burro’s Tail plants hate sitting in water as they have very delicate roots. Once the soil becomes even slight waterlogged, it can very suddenly lead to root rot, meaning the plant becomes unstable and also cannot get needed nutrients from its root system. 

To figure out if your Burro’s Tail is dying due to overwatering, there are a few things to look out for. Firstly, if the oldest leaves of your Burro’s Tail are turning yellow or brown as well as soft mushy leaves and soil that smells dampy and musty. 

To confirm if overwatering is killing your plant, check the soil moisture using a moisture meter or by removing it from its pot.  If you find that the soil is even a bit waterlogged, replace it straight away (rather than waiting for it to naturally dry out) so that the roots can begin to recover.

To prevent the issue from happening again, make sure that the potting mix has time to fully dry out between waterings (moisture meters can really help with this). You also want to make sure that you are adjusting how much and frequently you are watering your Burro’s Tail depending on the change in seasons. 

A dying Burro’s Tail can also suggest cold drafts

Another thing that Burro’s Tail plants hate is cold air. If the leaves on your plant are starting to fall off then it might be because the room is too cold or they are in a drafty spot. Avoid placing them near any windows or doors that have cracks or are regularly open in winter as the cold air will shock your plant and it will start to lose leaves. 

The best thing to do to revive your dying Burro’s Tail is to move your plant to a warmer area of your home. We also recommend using a digital thermometer so that you can monitor any changes in temperature that might start impacting your plant. They are a real saviour when it comes to plant care as it’ll also allow you to spot any hotspots that occur near windows/heating vents as these can quickly dry out your Burro’s Tail and cause real issues.

Chemical sensitivity might also be to blame

If you live in a hard water area then tap water is not always the best thing to use on Burro’s Tails. The water contains chemicals such as fluoride that over time will impact your plant’s health and might be why it’s dying. Whilst this issue won’t kill your Burro’s Tail from one day to the next, if your plant has been slowly developing issues and none of the above reasons fit in with what is happening with your plant, then this could be the culprit. 

There are two methods to avoid this problem that are free and don’t involve getting a whole purification system installed in your home. Firstly, you can leave a watering can full of tap water standing for over 24 hours. Over that time most of the chemicals will evaporate or sink to the bottom of the watering can. Then the only thing left to do is remember not to pour away the last few inches of water. The second method is to collect rainwater as it is a lot better to use then the treated water out of your tap.

Those are the most common reasons why Burro’s Tail plants begin dying. Whenever you are solving an issue, catching it early is the number one thing that helps you successfully revive your plant. This is why we strongly recommend all plant parents to regularly check up on their houseplants to spot any early warning signs. Checking over the leaves each time you water is a good place to start and at regular intervals checking over the soil and root system as well (yearly repotting is a good way to do this too). 

Once you have made a diagnosis and have started to change things about either your care or environment, it’s important to keep a close eye on your Burro’s Tail so that you’re able to check that the issue isn’t getting any worse. 

To learn more about how to keep your plant happy and thriving, check out our Burro’s Tail care guide.

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