When it comes to succulents, these popular plants have interesting quirks. The one we’ll be talking about today are succulent aerial roots. It can be quite confusing to all of a sudden see spindly succulent roots above soil, when they should all be below the surface! While being fascinating, it can be a sign of an underlying issue that is causing them to form.
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In this post we will explore why your succulent might be sprouting aerial roots, how you can tell which cause is behind it, and what you can do if needed. So keep reading as we dive into the fascinating world of aerial roots on succulents!
What Are Aerial Roots?
Aerial roots are specialized structures that grow from the stems or branches of some plants. They are capable of absorbing moisture and nutrients from the air, and can also serve as anchors for the plant. Unlike traditional roots that grow in the soil, aerial roots can be seen extending out from the sides of a plant.
While these roots can mean you have a healthy, growing plant (like a Monstera should have air roots), it can also be a sign of distress for other plants (often for succulents)
You may be interested in: Do Cacti Have Roots?
Why Does My Succulent Have Aerial Roots?
Succulent aerial roots can be a surprising sight for plant owners, but they’re actually a natural occurrence for these desert dwellers. Aerial roots are essentially roots that grow above the soil line, reaching out into the air for more support, hydration, and nutrient intake.
Succulents often develop these roots as a way to adapt to their dry and unpredictable habitat, allowing them to gather more moisture and nutrients from whatever source is available. While some may worry that aerial roots are a sign of stress or damage to the plant, they are actually quite beneficial and serve as a testament to the resilience of these hardy plants.
As long as the roots aren’t showing any signs of decay or rot, succulent owners can rest assured that their plants are simply doing what they do best: adapting to their environment.
Are Succulent Aerial Roots Bad?
Aerial roots are not harmful to the plant. In fact, they allow the succulent to access additional sources of water and nutrients, making it easier for it to grow and thrive in its natural environment.
So if you spot aerial roots on your succulent, the plant is still surviving, but can indicate not all of it’s needs are being met.
Can All Succulents Have Roots Growing Above Ground?
When it comes to succulents, it’s easy to assume that all of can have roots growing above ground. This ability depends on a variety of factors such as the species, environment, and growing conditions. You’re not likely to see aerial roots growing on aloe or aloe-like succulents.
More often, succulents that have stems are the ones most likely to grow aerial roots.
With all of that in mind, let’s discuss 3 of the main causes for seeing aerial roots on your succulent! These can include lack of nutrients available in the soil, not receiving enough light, or the succulent spreading out and trying to have more support.
Aerial Roots On Succulents Because Of Lack of Nutrients In Soil
A lack of nutrients in the soil is a common cause behind the development of succulent aerial roots. When the soil lacks essential nutrients (including water), your succulent might start growing roots above the ground.
These aerial roots are essentially the plant’s way of reaching out for more resources. They are an indication the succulent is trying to find additional nourishment outside of what the soil is providing.
Water and fertilizer are the primary sources of these essential nutrients. If the soil is too dry or hasn’t been watered enough/frequently enough, these aerial roots may be formed to absorb moisture from the air.
This can also come from having a lack of fertilized soil. or hasn’t been fertilized in a while, the succulent might develop aerial roots in an attempt to compensate for these missing nutrients.
I suggest a fertilizer specifically for succulents, like The Grow Co Succulents & Cactus Plant Food
One other thing to consider: overwatering can also lead to nutrient depletion, as excessive water can wash away nutrients in the soil. It’s important to strike a balance in watering and fertilizing your succulents to prevent the development of aerial roots due to nutrient deficiency.
Lack of Sunlight Causing Aerial Roots On Succulents
One common cause of the development of these aerial roots is a lack of sunlight. When succulents don’t receive enough sunlight, you may notice a succulent growing roots from stems to compensate. If this is the case, you’ll also notice the succulent getting lanky as it tries to reach out for sunlight.
If you want to keep the look of the aerial roots, keep it in its current location. Otherwise, try moving it to a sunnier spot!
Don’t have a lot of sun? Look at these succulents that prefer low-light!
Aerial Roots Can Give More Physical Support To The Plants
Succulents can also develop aerial roots as a form of physical support. As these plants grow and their stems become longer and heavier, they may begin to lean or droop. Aerial roots can help to stabilize these plants, providing extra support and anchorage.
They do this by extending down from the stem and rooting into the surrounding soil, effectively acting as additional ‘legs’ for the plant.
This can be especially common in succulent species that naturally have a creeping or trailing growth habit. In this way, aerial roots play a crucial role in helping succulents maintain their balance and structural integrity as they continue to grow and spread.
In Summary: Aerial Roots On Succulents
Aerial roots on succulents may seem like a curious phenomenon, but they play a critical role in the survival of these hearty plants. Unlike traditional roots that grow underground, aerial roots protrude from the plant’s stem and absorb moisture and nutrients from the air. This unique adaptation allows succulents to thrive in harsh, dry environments where other plants struggle to survive.
Aerial roots also help anchor the plant in place, providing stability in windy conditions. While it may seem strange to see roots growing above ground, it’s just one more example of the incredible resilience and adaptability of nature.
With those thoughts in mind, if you’re seeing unwanted aerial roots on your indoor succulents, try looking closer at your succulent to see if you can be providing it more water, fertilizer, or light! With care and attention put into these plants, they will live their happiest, healthiest lives! Good luck and happy gardening!