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How To Grow Mermaid Tail Succulents?

mermaid's tail succulent

Mermaid tail succulent plants (Euphorbia lactea ‘Cristata’ or Crested Senecio Vitalis) are wonderful houseplants with a unique look. They are also terrific for rock gardens or Mediterranean gardens! To me, both of them look like something that should belong in an aquarium or an ocean, but they actually are houseplants!

There is a reason for their ‘abnormal’ look. Both of them are crested succulent plants, through a process called fasciation. Without the mutation you would have a regular blue chalk sticks or a dragon bones plant.

Crested Senecio Vitalis has incredible green-blue foliage, which really sells the mermaid’s tail look. Euphorbia lactea ‘Cristata’ has pink hue around the tail, which might be more attractive for some people. It is also called a coral cactus.

Luckily for you, crested or not, both of these plants have the similar needs. In this article we will provide information on how to grow and care for both!

Fasciation and Cresting

Cresting is a rare condition of abnormal growth in vascular plants. It usually happens for flowering blooms, but in succulents it provides unusual thickening stems, which start to grow horisontally rather than vertically.

Basic Care

Senecio Vitalis is a winter grower, meaning its dormant in the summer. Euphorbia lactea ‘Cristata’ grows from spring to fall. Both type of mermaid’s tail succulent is relatively low-maintenance, which makes it an excellent choice for busy people. Whether the plant is crested or not, you can do the same care routine, but you would be growing blue chalk sticks or dragon bone plant instead of a mermaid tail succulent.

Blue Chalksticks Source: cultivar413

Light

Compared to other succulents, this one prefers direct sunlight. It will not tolerate low light, partial shade in a garden will be fine. Find a location, where it can get at least 6 hours of sunlight to ensure a happy mermaid tail succulent.

Even though these plants enjoy light, bright sun with heat can burn them, especially when not exposed to it previously. When mermaid tail succulents have been growing in partial shade or low light previously, start exposing it to direct light carefully, step by step, allowing it to acclimate.

Watering

The good thing about these succulents – they are drought-resistant! Even though they look aqueous. Water mermaid only when the top inch of the soil is dry. If you have grown succulents before, you’ll know that they are susceptible to root rot, which is mostly caused by overwatering. Use a pot with drainage holes!

Euphorbia lactea
Euphorbia lactea Source: Mike

Climate

Senecio Vitalis is native to the Eastern Cape of South Africa. The plant can grow outside in USDA Hardiness zones 10-11. The ideal temperatures for growth are 68 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (20-24 degrees Celsius).

Normal household humidity should not become a problem for those plants. In a high-humidity environment, try to not water the leaves. If the water does not evaporate it can invite fungal diseases.

Soil & Fertilizer

As with most succulents, Senecio Vitalis needs well-draining soil. Store-bought cactus or succulent mix will be sufficient. If you want to provide more than sufficient soil, add fine pine bark, some regular houseplant potting mix to retain a little moisture, and perlite to draw out excess moisture.

Propagating

Propagating Crested Senecio vitalis or Euphorbia lactea ‘Cristata’ can take some patience. There’s no quarantee that the propagation will become crested as well. Here’s the method with most success rate:

  • Wear protective gloves, sap of Senecio Vitalis can cause irritation
  • Cut off the stem with a sharp tool, near the base of the plant, where it comes out of the soil.
  • Place the cutting in a shaded area, allowing the cut to heal and dry for 3-5 days
  • Place the cutting in well-draining potting mix as described before, do not water it immediatly.

Diseases & Pests

Senecio Vitalis and Euphorbia lactea ‘Cristata’ are tough plants when it comes to diseases. Root rot and fungal infections are the main concerns. These diseases are easily prevented by watering the plant correctly.

When it comes to pests, mealybugs, spider mites and aphids can affect this plant. Use a tissue immersed in rubbing alcohol and clean the surface of the plant to get rid of these pests.

Final Words

Mermaid tail succulents are easy to care for and are very unique looking, therefore a great conversation starter. There are two types to choose from, although both of them are quite rare to find.

You might have to spend a little more money compared to other houseplants, but it will be worth it! Follow our grow & care guide to make your plant thrive.

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