Mermaid Tail Succulent

Mermaid Tail Succulent

What is Mermaid Tail Succulent

If you have a thing for mermaids or other mythical creatures, this succulent is for you. Having it in the house might also be a great way to complement your ocean-themed decor.

Mermaid tail is unusual in so many ways; you will never lose your wonder for nature with it around.

Crested Senecio Vitalis is the scientific name of this beautiful succulent. Euphorbia Lactea is also known by the common name, Mermaid tail. Both plants share most of their morphological attribute except for their’ leaves,’ and similar husbandry protocols work for both of them.

We shall discuss the leaves more when we get to the ‘physical attributes’ section.

The succulent is a native of the Cape Province in South Africa. It mainly grows during winter while remaining dormant in Summer.  

Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels

Physical Attributes

This succulent is greenish-blue; it has a cactus-like texture an appearance that gives it its other common name, ‘the coral cactus.’

The plant generally grows upwards towards the light like any other plant, but it has some mutations with an outwards growth pattern.

The mermaid tail rises to a maximum of two feet from the ground, after which it spreads out horizontally for up to five feet.

The process through which this plant flattens in this manner is known as ‘fascination.’ A Senecio Vitalis or Euphorbia Lactes that has gone through fascination is beautiful, rare, and widely sought-after.

There are some physical differences between the two species. The most prominent is that Senecio Vitalis has thin, blue grass-shaped leaves all over its surface, while Euphorbia Lactea has dragon bones on the flat surface. There could also be a slight variance in pigmentation between different individual plants.

It would be best if you kept Euphorbia Lactea out of reach of children and pets because the dragon bone can prick them – it is somewhat stiff and sharp.

Some of the smaller mermaid tails grow one foot high and three feet wide. You can choose a larger plant or the smaller one depending on your space’s size or otherwise meet your preferences for décor. Whatever the size, this succulent is always spectacular.  

Husbandry

Mermaid tail has a well-earned reputation for ease of husbandry. The following are some of its specific maintenance protocols to follow to keep it healthy and beautiful.

Sunlight and Temperature 

This plant can grow and thrive in direct sunlight or partial shade. It is tolerant to high temperatures, and therefore, the scorching summer afternoon sun isn’t much of a problem for it.

Make sure you take it to the window or some other sunny spot if you have it in the house as it needs sunlight to be healthy. Allow it to bathe in the sun for up to six hours.

The mermaid tail is generally cold, hardy. It loves the cold season because it grows most during winter. However, temperatures under zero degrees Celsius can stress it.

This means that you will need to get them sheltered during frigid winters – those below 300 Fahrenheit or -1.10 Celsius. So, make sure to plant the mermaids in containers if these cold winters are a regular occurrence in your zone.

Photo by Isabela Kronemberger on Unsplash

Soil and Watering 

The mermaid tail is like its look-alike- the cactus in drought resistance. It can stay for a long time without water in its natural environment, but since you have domesticated it, make sure you water it regularly.

You should be careful to ensure the soil is entirely drained of the previous watering before adding more water. This is because, like many succulents, Senecio’s roots and stem are vulnerable to fungal infection, and they rot if they remain in waterlogged soil.

Treated water is generally unhealthy for succulents, including mermaid tail. It is always better to harvest rainwater and use it on the plants. It is the safest option.

You should plant the succulent on easy-to-drain soil to avoid rotting – it should be gritty and sandy. If you are going to plant it in a container, ensure the pot is perforated to allow the water to flow through.

Also, ensure there is no saucer under the pot in which you have planted the mermaid’s tail as the saucer would retain water causing the roots to rot.

Mermaid tails are exceptionally disease resistant, and you, therefore, don’t need a disease management regime. Mealybugs may attack it from time to time, but you can control them by spraying them with pure pressurized water, which blows the bugs away. Also, you can spray them with organic neem pesticide.

Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash

Grooming 

The plant is naturally appealing. It doesn’t take much grooming to make it look nice. Some people shape it by cutting off leaves from the surface while retaining some at the extreme upper part of the succulent. This type of grooming accentuates the mermaid tail shape. It also exposes the plant’s body’s cactus-like appearance, further enhancing the plant’s exotic appearance.

Propagation 

Both Senecio Vitalis and Euphorbia Lactes propagate through cuttings of the leaves. Through the following process.

– Sterilize a knife and cut off a leave.

– Leave it for some time – usually a day or two – to allow the wound to callus.

– Replant on sandy or other well-draining soil. The soil should be fresh.

– Avoid watering the cutting for the first few days. This will help it acclimatize to the new environment. Water every three days after this until the plant starts to establish roots. Once the roots appear, reduce watering to once weekly.

We can’t overemphasize the importance of planting the cutting in well-draining soil. Soil drainage is often the difference between the survival and death of these succulents.

We earlier observed that the mermaid tail forms out of a mutation. There is no guarantee that it will crest to get the mermaid tail appearance even when you obtained the cutting for propagation from a mutated plant. This is why the succulent is rare.

In conclusion 

This plant is beautiful and unique. It is easy to maintain but propagating it is a game of chance. Some people look for the ones that have already crested in their natural habitat and pot them. Either way, the best way to be sure you will have a Crested Senecio Vitalis or Euphorbia Lactes is by buying one.

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