Why is my Burro’s Tail turning yellow?

Last Updated: June 8, 2022

Adored for their cute little plump leaves, the Burro’s Tail is popping up more and more in plant stores and nurseries across the world – and we couldn’t be happier about it.

They aren’t super needy plants and if in the right environment, won’t require much maintenance at all to keep them looking fresh. However, if you do start to notice that your Burro’s Tail’s leaves are turning yellow, then this is definitely a sign that something isn’t quite right. 

Before you give up on your plant, there are several ways you can fix the issue and bring it back to full health. In fact, yellow leaves on a Burro’s Tail plant is super easy to diagnose as there are only two issues that really cause yellow leaves. For some other plants, there can be a list of 10 factors that cause yellow leaves so count yourself lucky. Below you’ll find the two factors that can cause yellow Burro’s Tail leaves, as well as how to fix the issue and prevent it from happening to your plant again.

Too much intense and direct sunlight

Intense, direct sunlight can be quite a common reason why Burro’s Tail plants start to have yellow leaves. Although a lack of light can also cause several issues for them, they don’t do well in harsh direct sunlight and during the hottest and sunniest summer months, intense light can cause yellow leaves.

Direct sunlight will very quickly scorch and burn the leaves of your Burro’s Tail if it hits your plant for several hours each day. Your Burro’s Tail can deal with a little bit of direct light here and there but too much will turn the leaves yellow which is, unfortunately, irreversible. You’ll be able to spot sunburn if it affects patches throughout the plant that are facing the sun, rather than just impacting the oldest leaves (see overwatering below). 

If direct sunlight is the cause of the yellow leaves on your Burro’s Tail, remove the worst affected leaves and move your plant to a slightly shadier spot. If you are unsure how much light your Burro’s Tail is getting throughout the day/year, it can be useful to buy a light meter to keep track.

Healthy Burro's Tail

Healthy Burro's Tail

Overwatering causes yellow and transparent leaves

If the leaves on your Burro’s Tail have turned yellow and somewhat transparent in colour, this means you are overwatering and the leaves are becoming very full with water. Burro’s Tail plants can go for several weeks without water as they are succulent plants so overwatering can be very damaging to them. Alongside yellow leaves, overwatering can cause your Burro’s Tail to turn soft and droopy.

If you suspect that your Burro’s Tail is turning yellow due to overwatering, the best thing to do is to take your plant out of its pot immediately so you can see how much moisture is in the potting mix. This will also allow you to take a look at the roots to see if they are rotting due to the overwatering. Remove any black or soft roots. 

If the potting mix is still quite soggy and waterlogged, it’s important that you replace it immediately. Waiting for it to naturally dry out risks more damage to the plant, and will most probably cause more yellow leaves to develop on your Burro’s Tail.

Now that you have done all you can to fix the issue, you want to turn your attention to preventing more yellow leaves in future. Adjust your watering schedule moving forward so you are only keeping a little bit of moisture in the soil, rather than it being soggy. Remove any excess water that has run out of the drainage holes about 15-20 minutes after watering to stop the roots from rotting in stagnant water.  

We also recommend investing in a moisture meter as this is the best way to keep track of the moisture levels in the soil and prevent yellow leaves. They are super affordable and will literally tell you how moist the potting mix is. Goodbye, over or underwatering! 

Those are the two most common reasons why Burro’s Tail plants develop yellow leaves. This should be quite an easy one to diagnose as you just need to inspect the root system and keep an eye on the level of sunlight your Burro’s Tail gets each day. Using the light and moisture meters we mentioned above can really help to be sure of what’s going on. When making a change to either the care or environment of your Burro’s Tail, keep a very close eye on it for the weeks that follow so you can make sure it’s not causing any other problems (or any more yellow leaves!!). 

To learn more about how to care for your plant, as well as propagation tips and other common problems, check out our Burro’s Tail care guide.

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