In Basic Care

2 Options For How to Deal with Aerial Roots on Succulents

Aerial roots on succulents are a cry for help. They can panic even the most seasoned of succulent growers too. But what causes them and how do you deal with them. You have two different options for dealing with aerial roots on succulents that will work well for most situations.

Option #1: Cut the Aerial Roots Off

If you don’t like the look of the aerial roots on succulents, you can cut them off. Of course, there could be a lot of them depending on how thirsty your succulent was. If you do choose to cut off the aerial roots, make sure to use a very clean, very sharp knife.

Option #2: Allow the Aerial Roots To Become Permanent

If you choose not to take off the aerial roots, they will probably become thicker and woody. Especially if the plant continues to be too dry for a long period of time. Make sure that won’t bother you before deciding to keep the aerial roots.

Aerial roots

What are Aerial Roots

Aerial roots on succulents are small, hairlike strings that grow from the stem of a plant. They can grow on pretty much any type of plant, from your succulents to your tomatoes.

On a succulent, aerial roots can be more difficult to identify because they do not get as large and they grow slowly. You see them growing right out of the stem and they will be a pale pink or white color.

Why do Succulents Grow Aerial Roots

Aerial roots grow on succulents when the plant is trying to get more water from the air around it. Besides shriveled leaves, aerial roots are the second good indicator of underwatering. If you don’t water your succulents enough (and yes, they do need water) the plant will try to adapt and find more water.

Aerial roots are not an indication that you should water your succulents like a houseplant: frequently and a little at a time. Instead, aerial roots on succulents indicate that you need to give more water and water deeper when you do water your succulent.

Succulents tend to grow in environments where they get a lot of water all at once and that’s how they thrive. Of course, this isn’t a hard rule but it’s a good start.

Do All Succulents Grow Aerial Roots

Actually, not all succulents grow aerial roots. Only stemmed succulents will grow aerial roots. So, plants like Sedums and Echevarias may grow aerial roots but not succulents like Aloe that have no central stem.

Should I Remove Aerial Roots from My Succulents

cut off aerial roots

The only concern with aerial roots on succulents is aesthetics. If your succulent looks bad because of the aerial roots, or it hardens into something appearing like a branch, you can take it off. Aerial roots can be removed without damaging the succulent if you use a sharp knife or scissors to take them off. Make sure the blade is clean first though.

Are Aerial Roots on My Succulents a Bad Thing

Ultimately, aerial roots on succulents are not a bad thing. They can stay on without causing any damage to the plant. They are just a very good indicator that your plant needs deeper watering when you do water it. Actually aerial roots will grow on any plant that needs more water, as Gardening Know How explained.

Can Succulents Grow from Aerial Roots

If you don’t like the look of the aerial roots on succulents and want to take them off, you could always consider propagation as an option. By using the aerial roots to propagate your succulents, you cut some of the steps out of basic propagation since you don’t have to wait for roots to grow.

How Can You Propagate Succulents from Aerial Roots

Propagating from aerial roots is very similar to propagating succulents from cuttings. If you need more information on propagation in general, check out this article on propagation.

  1. Using a sharp knife, cut the stem slightly below the aerial root that is forming
  2. Plant the new succulent in new soil with good drainage
  3. Brace the new succulent so that it is stable until a new root system forms
  4. Do not water for at least a day to prevent any infection of the stump
  5. Care for the new succulent as you do the mother plant going forward (except water deeper since that’s why the aerial root grew in the first place)

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