What are aerial roots and why do they happen?

Firstly, don’t panic.  Aerial roots 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 hybrid 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.

Aerial Roots Might Be a Sign of Root Issues

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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Learn how to propagate succulents and share them with your friends

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Aerial Roots FAQ

What are aerial roots on succulents?

Aerial roots on succulents are roots that grow above the surface of the soil, rather than being underground. They are typically found on the stem of the plant, and are used to absorb moisture from the air.

Why do succulents have aerial roots?

Succulents have aerial roots as an adaptation to survive in arid or semi-arid environments. These roots allow the plant to absorb moisture from the air, which can be useful in areas where water is scarce.

Are aerial roots on succulents normal?

Yes, aerial roots on succulents are normal and can be a sign of a healthy plant. They are an adaptation that allows the plant to absorb moisture from the air.

Can I remove aerial roots from my succulent?

While aerial roots are normal, it's not always necessary to remove them. However, if they are causing the plant to become overcrowded or unmanageable, you can remove them by gently cutting them off with a clean, sharp pair of scissors.

How do I care for aerial roots on my succulent?

To care for aerial roots on your succulent, simply mist them regularly with water to keep them hydrated. Avoid over-watering, as this can lead to rot. Also, you can provide humidity to the plant by using a humidifier or by putting a tray of water nearby.
4 reasons aerial roots happen and how to fix it
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