How to Grow a Mermaid Tail Succulent (Step-by-Step Easy Propagation!)

Mermaid Tail Succulents, or the Crested Senecio Vitalis, is a wildly unique and somewhat strange plant.

They give off an underwater coral-Esque vibe and will make any room they are placed in feel like an ocean-inspired paradise.

As you may have guessed from their name, this succulent has the appearance of a mermaid tail! It is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before! 

Another peculiar feature of this magical plant is that it goes dormant in the summer heat, while its active growing season is in the cold winters.

Making it the ideal match for people who like to take long summer holidays without thinking twice about their plant collection. 

Mermaid Tails are native to the Eastern Cape of South Africa and are extremely easy to care for.

Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting, this rare plant will be the perfect addition to your indoor jungle. 

Crested Senecio Vitalis Overview

Scientific NamesCrested Senecio Vitalis / Euphorbia Lactea ‘Cristata’
Common NameMermaid’s Tail / Whale’s Tail / Coral Cactus / Regular Blue Chalk Sticks/ Blue Chalk Fingers/  Narrow Leaf Chalk Stick / Fishtail Fern
OriginSouth Africa
Size and Dimensions (Mature)18-24 inches in height, 18 inches in width
Distinguishing FeaturesGreenish-blue color, cactus-like bumps, and ends that resemble a mermaid’s tail 
In-Home PlacementSunny indoor spots, such as an east or south-facing window in a bedroom or living room 

Mermaid Tail Succulent Fun Facts

The Plant Goes Dormant In Summer

Senecio Vitalis belongs to a large group of winter-growing succulents. These succulents undergo an annual dormancy, where they cease growing to protect themselves against the extreme heat and drought in their natural habitat. 

You may mistake your plant for dead during this period, but please have patience. Once the weather cools down and is more suitable for growth, your Mermaid Tail will grow right back! Please remember not to water this winter grower during dormancy, which can lead to rot and other issues. 

Mermaid Tail Care and Growing Conditions

Image Credit: (IG: Repotting Daddy)

As gorgeous as this unique plant is, they are also perfect for beginner growers with a brand new green thumb!

Mermaid tails succulents are low maintenance plants that, like most other succulent plants, don’t require much care.

Below is a comprehensive guide on the Mermaid’s Tail Succulent’s maintenance needs so that you can be certain that your plant will thrive in your care. 

Soil Requirements

Because it is primarily a cactus, your Blue Chalked Fingers plants prefer well-drained soil.

They thrive the best in porous sandy soil and devoid of much fertilizer, similar to where they grow in their natural habitat.

Ideally, opt for a succulent- or cactus-specific organic soil mix. You may amend a standard potting soil with perlite, orchid bark, horticultural sand, or pumice to enhance drainage and promote healthy root growth on your Mermaid’s Tail. 

Your Senecio must be planted in a pot with drainage holes. Without drainage, the water will remain in the pot, keeping the soil wet for too long and putting your plant at risk for root rot!

A terra-cotta plant pot can aid in preventing root rot, as this porous material absorbs moisture through its walls. 

Water Requirements

Despite their ocean-like appearance, these plants need little water to thrive. The roots of this crested plant are prone to get fungal infections if they stay underwater for a long time. 

Succulents Mermaids Tails are drought-resistant plants that can survive without being watered for up to a few weeks.

They prefer dry periods between every watering. Check the soil with your fingers before watering, and only water when the soil is completely dry. 

A great option for these succulents is to bottom water. To do this, simply place your plant in a deep saucer of water and allow the soil to soak up the water as needed.

This method helps to prevent rot by keeping water off the plant’s leaves and stems. 

Light Requirement

Mermaid’s tail plants should ideally be placed near a natural light source or somewhere that gets direct sunlight and light shade. Just remember that their primary growing season is in the winter!

These succulents are sun-loving and can easily withstand the mid-day sun for long hours.

At least 6 hours of sun are vital for them, but if you live in a scorching region, you should keep these plants in a south-facing or east-facing window for partial shade because full sun may cause sunburn on the foliage. 

Humidity Requirement

Mermaids tails plants are perfectly comfortable in 40% to 60% humidity ranges, especially the latter, which is the average humidity level of a household.

If you live in a dry region or your home has a lot of air vents, placing the plant near a humidifier will keep it thriving. 

USDA Hardiness Zone

Mermaid’s tail succulents are strange plants regarding weather and growing seasons, but they seem to do best in USDA hardiness zones 10-11.

While this is not a hard and fast rule, since most people grow them indoors, it is something to consider for outdoor succulent owners who are looking to add this interesting plant to their collection. 

Fertilizer Requirement

This low-maintenance succulent is not a heavy feeder, but it’ll need a slow-release fertilizer that contains a healthy amount of phosphorous and potassium.

We suggest applying a slow-release granulated, succulent-specific fertilizer annually in Fall to prepare the plant for the upcoming growing season. 

Alternatively, twice during the growing season, you can apply a cactus-specific balanced plant half-strength liquid fertilizer. Ensure to dilute the solution thoroughly to prevent burning the plant’s roots.

When Is The Best Time To Propagate Mermaid Tail Succulents?

Your propagations need access to plenty of sunlight and warmth to form roots. For this reason, the best time to propagate is spring or summer.

The ideal temperature range for these plants is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 23 degrees of celsius), so depending on your area, fall can also be a good time to propagate.

Make sure that your mother plant is not dormant when you take cuttings! Only propagate from plants that are actively growing.

How to Propagate a Mermaid Tail Succulent

Image Credit: (IG: Plantoem)

The Mermaid Tail Succulent is a rare plant, so it should be propagated and multiplied whenever they are ready and mature.

You’ll want your plant’s blue-green mermaid tail to grow abundantly and disease-free before you can begin taking cuttings. 

This process is easy enough, doesn’t take much time, and you won’t need anything special besides essential gardening tools, a pot, and well-draining soil.

Of course, all the tools, including the shears and knives, must be sterilized and cleaned correctly. Otherwise, the stem cuttings and the leaves might be affected by fungal infections. 

Stem Cuttings

The easiest way to propagate a healthy Mermaid Tail Succulent is to use the stems. Again, take propagations from a mature and healthy mother plant. 

How to propagate Mermaid’s Tail succulents with stem cuttings:

  1. Choose a stem of the Mermaid Tail plant. The stem cutting should be at least 3-4 inches long for a higher success rate. 
  2. Use a clean, sterile knife to cut off the stem from the plant in one quick swipe. 
  3. Keep the cut stem(s) aside as they grow calluses over the next few days or at least 24 hours. 
  4. After the steam has calloused, prepare some fresh, new cactus mix in a pot. 
  5. Plant the new cutting(s) in the soil mix. Push it to cover about an inch of stem(s) under the soil surface. Do not press down on the soil too much. You may plant multiple cuttings together in one pot. 
  6. Place the pot under direct sunlight, but avoid harsh afternoon sunlight during the hot summers, which can scorch and stress your cutting. A few hours of sunlight in the morning is ideal! 
  7. Keep the soil slightly moist, but avoid deep watering. I recommend using a spray bottle to mist the soil daily (do not mist directly on the plant itself!).
  8. You can check if the roots have grown by gently tugging the plant. If there is resistance, roots are forming. 

If you’re propagating Mermaids Tails Plants in a pot, it needs space for the rhizomes to grow underneath. Ideally, the pot needs to be wide but not too deep; it also requires a drainage hole for the low water to escape. 

Suitable potting soil is essential for the propagation process. Only the highest quality new potting mix ideal for cactus plants should be used in a pot for propagation.

If you live in a house with brief periods of bright light, your new plant might need artificial light and heat to grow up properly.

Potting and Repotting Mermaids Tail

Image Credit: (IG: Repotting Daddy)

Your Mermaid Tail Plant won’t need repotting unless it has grown too big for its present pot and requires a bigger growing space.

In such cases, you might consider repotting to a slightly larger flower pot for the plant to grow to its full size. Since this stunning plant can vary in height and width, they require medium to large flower pots.

The rhizomes of these plants grow horizontally, so the pots need to be wide but not too deep. Thus it is the perfect match for a small or shallow container or water saucer. 

It’s essential that repotting is done with proper care. Too much damage to the root system can result in transplant shock, which may stop your succulent from growing.

The good news is that as long as the rhizomes of your Mermiad’s Tail are intact, the plant will likely recover well from transplant stress.

Common Problems with Mermaid Tail Succulents

The Mermaid Tail is a very sturdy plant, and it is rare for them to face many diseases.

Still, because of overwatering, negligence, or extreme weather, these plants can sometimes be affected by root rot, fungal infections, bugs, and other diseases.  

Root Rot

Overwatering is the main reason for root rot in Mermaid Cactus succulent plants. Like other succulents, they do not require much water. 

If the plant’s soil isn’t allowed to dry out between watering, the constantly moist soil will cause the roots to rot. 

To revive your succulent from root rot, remove the plant from its pot and rinse the soil to reveal the bare root. Trim off all the rotten, brown bits from the root system and repot into fresh soil. 

A dry method must be adopted when caring for these succulents. This means the soil must dry up completely before watering the plants. We recommend checking the soil before watering. 

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections happen when your Mermaid Tail plant is overwatered. Whether you’re overwatering your plants or the soil isn’t draining well, excess water will cause fungus infections in your roots and stems. 

A great way to avoid this is to wait till the water in the soil has been soaked up or drained away completely before you water again.

If overwatering isn’t the problem, you might want to change the plant’s soil and the pot.

Aphids and Scales 

Scale and aphids are common pests found on the otherwise indomitable Mermaid Tail Succulents. While there are no hard and fast reasons why they appear on plants, they are easy enough to remove. 

The best way to deal with these problems is by physical removal, using your hands whenever you see them on your plants. This is easy to do with your gloved fingers or a pair of sterilized tweezers.

If the problem persists or there are too many pests to remove by hand, applying horticulture oil to the stems is a good idea.

Mealy Bugs

Mealybugs are tiny insects that can suddenly appear on your plants, attaching themselves to the saps of the stems and sucking out the sap from the plants.

Although they may seem harmless, your plants might lose their vitality over time and stop growing.

If the pests persist for a long time, they secrete a sticky honeydew-like substance on the plants, attracting even more pests and bugs. 

These pests can also be physically removed from the plants when they first appear, starting at the top of the plant.

You may use a cotton pad with rubbing alcohol to wipe off the bugs. If that doesn’t work, applying horticulture oil can do the trick. 

Spider Mites

This pest needs to be dealt with as soon as it appears on your plants.

Mermaid’s tail plants are prone to spider mites which are often invisible to the naked eye, and a small infestation may soon spread throughout your whole house if you are not quick to treat them. 

Over time, these pests suck away the sap from the plants and take away all the nutrition, developing white or yellow spots on the stems. 

Rinsing the plant in the shower and spraying a neem oil solution on the stems can help eliminate these pests. Alternatively, apply a mild pesticide or horticultural oil to your Narrow-Leaf Chalksticks. 

Powdery Mildew

If you suddenly find your Mermaid Tail Succulent plants turning yellow, becoming distorted, or the leaves falling off, the reason might be powdery mildew.

These fungi infections spread quickly throughout your plant, attracting other pests and bugs. 

Spraying your plant with water and bicarbonate soda (½ tsp bicarbonate soda in a gallon of water) can help with the problem.

Creative Ways to Present Mermaids Tail Plants in your Home

Image Credit: (IG: myplantiejournal)

Mermaid tail cactus are unique succulents with an irregular shape and are probably unlike anything you’ve ever seen in a plant. This plant is indispensable if you yearn for a hint of fantasy in your interior!

The bluish green color of the plant and the fan-shaped base makes it the perfect cactus-succulent hybrid that you can place anywhere in your home, and its purple tips add the perfect flare!

Here are some ideas on how to place mermaid’s tail succulents directly into your decor.

Create an Ocean-Themed Room

If you’re planning an ocean-themed room for yourself or your child, it would be incomplete without one or a few Mermaid tail succulents. Senecio Vitalis is the ideal plant to give your room major underwater sea vibes. 

So whether you like the ocean or are fascinated with fairy tales and mystical creatures, this plant can help you capture style and imagination. Here are a few other ideas for an ocean-themed room.

  • Mermaid Tail Succulents would also look amazing beside an aquarium or other plants, setting the room’s entire mood. 
  • Because of their unique appearance and resemblance to a whale tail, mermaid tail succulents would fit perfectly in your beach house or any other room you want to decorate with a similar fairy tale-like feel. 
  • Mermaid tails are perfect for bathrooms with a south-facing or east-facing window and could be accented with sea shells, corals, or any other types of marine materials. Whatever your bathroom’s color, these vibrant and bright plants will steal everyone’s attention with a brand-new look.  
  • One of my favorite ways to display this plant is using a wire-hanging planter or macrame plant hanger

Potted Exotics Pro Tip: Check out our comprehensive guides on choosing the best succulents to pair together or which types of succulents flower for more inspiration!

Other Useful Information About Mermaid’s Tail Succulents

Any beginner gardener can start their indoor plant collection with these rare and unique plants, which are very easy to maintain.

Mother Nature has made Mermaid Tail Succulents extremely self-dependent and sturdy so that a forgetful caretaker can easily deal with them while living a hectic life.

If you decide to house a Mermaid Tail cactus, there are some other things you need to be aware of.

Is Mermaid’s Tail Toxic to Cats?

Unfortunately, Mermaid tail plants can be quite poisonous. If you have small cats in your house, these succulents should be kept well out of their reach. 

If your cat accidentally eats the leaves or stems of these plants, it will likely show signs of diarrhea, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, skin irritation, abdominal pain, drooling, and lethargy. 

If you have one of these succulents at home and see any signs of distress in your cat, you must immediately contact a vet for advice.

Is Mermaid’s Tail Toxic to Dogs?

While most succulents are safe for pets, mermaid’s tails can be toxic to dogs. Just like with cats, the stems and leaves of these plants can be dangerous if your dog accidentally eats them. 

Your dogs will show similar signs of distress as cats and should be taken to a vet as soon as possible. Mermaid tail plants must be kept out of their reach if you have small pets.  

Does Mermaid’s Tail Grow Best Indoors or Outdoors?

Mermaid’s tail plants can grow indoors and outdoors but cannot tolerate freezing weather. These unique succulents have a strange natural mutation, their dormant phase lasts the whole summer, and they actively grow throughout the winter. 

At the same time, these succulents need a vast space for their rhizomes to spread, which might limit the length of other plants in an outdoor garden. A wide but not too deep flower pot is perfect for Mermaid tail plants at home. 

Placing your Mermaids’ tail plants in a sunny spot around your home is the perfect way to ensure that your plant gets about 6 hours of direct sunlight. Keeping it under the sun for more than that – which is what will happen if it is planted outdoors – will cause the leave to get sunburn.

Otherwise, your Blue Chalksticks are the perfect garden fillers. Another great bonus is that they are deer resistant, so you needn’t worry about any deer feasting on your precious Blue Chalk Fingers. 

Where can I find a Mermaid Tail Succulent for sale?

If you already have a Mermaid tail Succulent at home, you can propagate from the mature plant to make more.

These new plants would be almost the same as the parent plant, and you can enjoy an impressive array of Mermaid tail plants in your home. 

However, if you plan to purchase this unique plant from your local plant store, there are some factors to consider

1. First, check the plant’s botanical name on the tag. It should ideally say “Senecio Vitalis,” the official name for these plants. Some might say “Euphorbia lactea,” a different plant, but under the same name. Both types are very similar in looks and their low maintenance requirements. 

2. Check the color of the plant thoroughly. Mermaid tail plants have unique blue-green foliage that’s hard to miss due to their abnormal growth and abnormal flattening of stems. 

3. The shape of the stems on these plants is quite interesting. Because of a process called fasciation, the plants develop a flattened stem to gain their unique shape. The flattened shape of the stem is why the plant looks like a succulent mermaid tail. 

If you can ensure these features are present in a Mermaid tail plant, it will undoubtedly become the perfect plant and a great addition to your home. 

Since it is such a unique succulent, the Mermaid’s Tail Succulent may be hard to come by locally as it is not in high demand.

For easier access, consider an online store. But remember that online sellers can easily sell fake or faulty products. Ensure to research the seller before buying a plant online. 

Leave a Comment