Mermaid Tail Succulent (Crested Senecio Vitalis)

Mermaid Tail Succulent (Crested Senecio Vitalis)


Bring magic into your home or garden with a succulent that Mother Nature has decided is extra special. The magical plant is popularly known as Mermaid Tail Succulent – or Crested Senecio Vitalis.

Mermaid Tail Succulents are a mix of cactus and succulent mutation. They typically grow to 1 to 2 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide. They resemble the look of a whale or Mermaid Tail. This unique plant is a cactus-succulent hybrid created and came into being through Fasciation.

Mermaid Tail Succulent (Crested Senecio Vitalis)

Fasciation is a generic mutation process that causes a plant to be flayed and start to grow upwards. The plant typically grows upward, but away from the light instead of towards the light.

Looking very much like Senecio Vitalis, this succulent comes with a narrow leaf chalk stick. They are wavey and tend to grow out of their fan-shaped based representing the look of a mermaid’s tail.

This succulent comes in a bluish green color. It has light green leaves with purple tips. They have a cactus-like bump on their base without spikes.

Mermaid Tail Succulents are difficult to find because they mutate naturally. They cannot be reproduced by humans.

The Mermaid Tail easily spreads; thus, they are often used as garden fillers. You should, however, make sure they do not overpower your ground. They are deer resistant.

When fully grown, Mermaid Tail Succulents provide an extremely charming scenery for your garden or household. They mimic the look of aquatic creatures, specifically a whale or fish tail.

Unlike other succulents, the Mermaid Tail unusually grows during winter and becomes dormant during summer. This is so because they are crested succulents.

This succulent is wider than it is tall, so you need to have the space if you intend to grow them indoors.

How to Grow Mermaid Tail Succulents

Mermaid Tail Succulents are low in maintenance. Their enlarged and thick parts make it easy for them to adapt in dried-up areas.

Soil Requirements

The Mermaid Tail grows and thrives well in well-draining soil because its roots are highly sensitive to fungi infections and rotting. They can tolerate soils with any pH from acidic to alkaline soils.

If you intend to plant it in a pot, you need to add some perlite or sand to the soil mix.

Light Conditions

The Mermaid Tail loves direct sunlight. Plant it outdoors where they can have full sun for at least 6 hours per day. It may also grow in light shade.

When grown indoors, place your Mermaid Tail near an east-facing or south-facing window.

Temperature Requirements

Mermaid Tail Succulents are cold hardy. If your area tends to have temperatures of below 300F ( -1.10C), it is best to plant your Mermaid Tail in a pot or container so you can take it inside.

This succulent is a winter-grower or cold-tolerant and, therefore, goes dormant during summer.

The Mermaid Tail thrives on the hardiness zones 10a to 11b.

Water Requirements

It is safe to use the “soak and dry” method of watering for your Mermaid Tail. This means you need to make sure that the topcoat of your plant’s soil is completely dry before watering.

Your Mermaid Tail can withstand droughts making it an ideal plant if do not have much time to care for plants but wants to enjoy its beauty.

Fertilizer Requirements

Your Mermaid Tail does not need much fertilizer. If grown in pots and indoors, give the plant half-strength liquid fertilizer.

Dilute the fertilizer 3 or 4 times before feeding it to your plant. If grown on the ground, your Mermaid Tail does not need fertilizer.


You can increase your collection of Mermaid Tail Succulents from leaf or stem cuttings.

  • Use a sterile knife to cut off a leaf of the plant. Make sure to wear a pair of garden gloves because this succulent plant is toxic.
  • Allow it to callus for a day or two and then plant it in fresh and well-draining soil. Do not water the new plant for a few days so it can adjust to its new environment.

You can also propagate this succulent through stem cuttings.

  • Use a sharp and sterile knife to cut off the stem that is near the base of the plant.
  • Place the stem under a shaded area. Allow it to callus or dry off for about two weeks.
  • Replant the stem in fresh and well-drained soil.

Do not water the fresh cutting for a few days.

The Mermaid Tail is a product of mutation so when you propagate it, there is no guarantee that the new plant will look like its mother.

How to Maintain Mermaid Tail Succulents

The Mermaid Tail is susceptible to root rotting and fungal infections. These are often due to overwatering.

You can prevent overwatering by using the soak and dry method. If the soil of your plant does not drain well, repot it and use well-draining soil.

Your Mermaid Tail can also be prone to aphid and mealybug pest infestations.

You can get rid of these pests on your plant by cleaning and washing them off with a cotton swab or soft cloth with rubbing alcohol.

Other than making sure not to overwater your Mermaid Tail, here are a few things you need to do to make sure this succulent plant remains a beauty in your garden or inside your home.

The Mermaid Tail Can Be Toxic to Pets and Humans:

  • Avoid overcrowding your Mermaid Tails.
  • Prune your Mermaid Tails to manage their height and spread. It is best to do annual pruning before the growing season.
  • When temperatures start to drop, cover the Mermaid Tail outdoors with burlap or blanket, or better yet, transfer it indoors.
  • Overwatering is still what you need to completely avoid because it will cause your Mermaid Tail to droop and its root to rot. It will eventually cause your succulent to die.
  • It is also important that the pot of your succulent is well-draining because the leaves will start to fall off.

Origin and Common Names: Mermaid Tail Succulents

Mermaid Tail Succulents or the Crested Senecio Vitalis is native to the east coast of South Africa. They are part of the Asteraceae family.

Gardeners and people who love succulents like the Mermaid Tail plant.  Because of its structure, it is often called the Mermaid’s tail, Whale’s Tail, or Blue Chalked Fingers.

This succulent is popularly called the mermaid’s tail because it does not produce stems or branches anymore when it crowns.

Instead, it squeezes together causing an abnormal growth at the top of the plant. A structure that grows at the top of the plant looks like a mermaid’s tail.

This magical plant is the opposite to most succulents because it grows in the winter and is dormant in the summer! Whereas it’s the reverse for most other succulents.

It incredibly easy to own as it has low water and maintenance requirements. It grows well in either light shade or sun and prefers sand or well-drained soil.

Because it can tolerate drought and long dry stretches, people say it’s the perfect match for the absent-minded owner!

Final Thoughts

Mermaid Tail Succulents are such beautiful plants, but they are difficult to find. When you get hold of them, seize the opportunity. Make sure they get plenty of sunshine and are appropriately watered.

The Mermaid Tail is ideal for beginner succulent collectors so it is a good time to learn about them so you can enjoy their beauty.

You cannot have a mermaid in your home, but you can have Mermaid Tail Succulents!

Since they are rare, it is a privilege to have them as part of your succulent collection in your yard or indoor garden.

We are so enamoured of this exquisite and unusual looking succulent, that we have sent forth scouts to search and return only when they locate and obtained several of these enchanting succulents. They’re a gotta have for our Green Garden Tribe – what about you?


Jenny Marie

Tribal Writer


Edited By

Patricia Godwin




Patricia Godwin

Patricia has many years of experience as a content writer on various subjects, but her first love is gardening. She’s never met a plant she didn’t like and, consequently, she writes about every type of plant you can think of. Once an avid gardener with a herb garden, a succulent rockery, and a rose garden – to mention a few. Nowadays, she’s constantly on the move searching for interesting plants to bring to your attention; and explain to you all the details you need to grow, care and maintain these plants.

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