What are aerial roots and why do they happen?

Firstly, don’t panic.  Aerial rootsaerial root Root arising above the ground growing from the stem of your succulents don’t necessarily mean your plant is unhealthy and something is wrong. A little bit of observation can help you decide what you want to do about them once you know why your succulents are shooting out roots from the not root area.

aerial roots on an echeveria hybrid
This small echeveria hybridhybrid A variety of succulent created from crossbreeding two different types succulents is probably not getting watered properly causing the aerial roots.

Aerial roots can be a sign that a succulent isn’t getting watered properly.

Are you watering your plants with the “Drench and Dry” method? Succulents love heavy, but infrequent, waterings rather than a little bit of water a little at a time. Thoroughly saturate your soil to the point where water is draining out of the pot and then don’t water again until the soil is dry and the succulents show signs of thirst.

Learn more about how to water succulents here.

Aerial roots can happen because your succulents are anticipating getting top-heavy, breaking off, and reaching the ground.

Are your succulents getting enough light? Inadequate lighting leads to quick, leggy growth that can make your succulents bend and twist when they get too top-heavy.

Read more about how to know your succulents are getting enough light here.

Something might be going on under the soil that we can’t see. If you’re over watering your succulents and the soil is staying too wet, harmful bacteria builds up, rots the roots and causes aerial roots to form. Bacteria may not have been the cause, but de-pot your succulent and check out what is going on below the surface. This is the perfect chance to make sure that your soil mix is gritty enough. Read the detailed Succulent Soil Guide for more info.

Aerial roots can also just be one way your succulent is physically stabilizing itself. This is commonly seen with some sedum, kalanchoe, and aeonium.

aerial roots are common on these succulents and shouldn't indicate a problem
Aerial roots are common on these succulents and usually don't indicate a problem.
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