Are aerial roots on succulents normal?

If you’ve had your succulent a while, you may eventually notice some aerial roots or air roots forming along the stem. While this isn’t a major problem, it is a sign your succulent needs attention. Find out how to help it below.


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I’m guessing you’re here because you’ve found some roots growing from the stem of your succulent, right?

The good news is your succulent is going to be ok. It just needs some extra attention.

I wondered what these were! This post explains everything you need to know about aerial roots on succulents

First off, it’s probably helpful to know what aerial roots are. Basically, they are just roots that grow on the stem of your succulent rather than in the soil. They are usually pink or white.

What causes aerial roots to grow?

Generally aerial roots will form on a succulent that isn’t getting enough water and often when it’s in a humid environment. Succulents absorb water through their roots from the surrounding air.

That is why having a soil with large particles is really important for the health of your succulent.

If you aren’t using the proper watering technique for your succulent, it may not be getting enough water and will start to “search” for more. This is when aerial roots start to form.

Your succulent is simply telling you it is thirsty and needs a deeper watering.

A Graptoveria 'Debbie' succulent with pink aerial roots

Notice how these Crassula rupestris are extremely dried up at the bottom and have put out a lot of new air roots.

You may need to water your succulents more if you notice aerial roots

This plant is also very stretched out due to lack of sunlight. Lack of sunlight can sometimes cause a succulent to put out air roots.

While this isn’t always the case, it is more likely for a succulent to send off aerial roots when it is starting to stretch out.

Do all succulents grow aerial roots?

Nope. It tends to be the succulents with a stem, such as Echeverias or tender Sedums. Generally you won’t see aerial roots on Haworthias or Aloes.

The little white strands are roots! Now I know why my succulent has them

Also, if you are watering correctly, you likely won’t see aerial roots at all.

You are more likely to encounter air roots with succulents that grow quickly and are in their active growing season. For example, these Graptoveria ‘Fred Ives’ and Graptopetalum paraguayense grow quite quickly and tend to stretch out easily if they don’t get enough light.

Graptoveria 'Fred Ives' with air roots

Graptopetalum paraguayense with aerial roots

A succulent stem with lots of aerial roots

Again, you’ll notice that these plants are all very stretched out. The Graptopetalum paraguayense also has limp wrinkled leaves indicating that it needs more water.

What should I do about the air roots?

You don’t need to remove the roots, although you can if they are getting too unsightly. However, be sure to water your succulent more deeply (not necessarily more often) and make sure it is getting plenty of light.

Sedum rubrotinctum frequently grows air roots when it isn't getting enough water

If you leave the roots attached, they may eventually harden or thicken and look like a small branch. This is normal.

While aerial roots aren’t a huge problem, they are something you should be aware of so you know how to adjust the care of your succulent. This is an early warning sign that your succulent isn’t as healthy as it could be.

2017-09-18T23:18:15+00:00

27 Comments

  1. Leelane March 8, 2017 at 9:40 am

    If I were to prune the plant an inch below the aerial root, and re-pot it, would the cutting have a head start on growing? Let’s assume that I make the environmental corrections that the appearance of the aerial root suggests.

    • Cassidy Tuttle March 8, 2017 at 11:16 am

      Yes it would, the aerial root will grow into the soil, and the plant will grow from there.

  2. The Bronx Layme Bot May 25, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    Cassidy I loved your books and alway your advise. Aerial roots has not happened to me as of yet but have seen it in other plants and now I know. Thanks!

    • Cassidy Tuttle June 12, 2017 at 10:35 am

      Thank you, and you are welcome :)

  3. Victoria June 12, 2017 at 6:58 am

    I received some Ruby Slippers in the mail from Leaf and Clay Co., and they are beautiful. After receiving them, I immediately planted them in Bonsai Jack soil. After 4 days, I watered them EXTRA generously and three days later, air roots started forming. Do you think that this could be due to the fact that they were shipped across the country and in a box for 6 days?

    • Cassidy Tuttle June 12, 2017 at 10:02 am

      That could be the case. Also try to soak the soil, and give your plant a deeper watering, so that they can grow strong roots.

  4. Jerece July 29, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    You write about not watering deeply but don’t speak much on the case of humidity.

    My succulent was accidentally left in the rain and got a deep watering. I moved it out of the rain but the following three days called for rain and there was no sun to be seen and was incredibly humid.
    I live in Pennsylvania. I left my succulent on the porch (as we had the AC on) and now it has aerial roots.

    Any advice?

    • Cassidy Tuttle July 31, 2017 at 12:42 pm

      The two main causes of aerial roots as you probably read is not enough water and not enough sun. It sounds like your succulent has had plenty of water so it may just need some more sunlight. If the soil feels dry I would water it as well. I would suggest moving it somewhere it can get some indirect sunlight and see if that helps!

  5. Sandra Reul August 11, 2017 at 7:24 am

    I have a lot of aerial roots coming from my kalanchoe. I read the posting and will try to water it more, but is it possible to just repot the plant by:
    1. cutting off the bottom of the stem, then
    2. place remaining plant in potting soil or re root in water (which is best?).
    I have done this for African violets with great success.

    I’d love to save the plant and even see it bloom again. I got it as a house gift last Thanksgiving and it’s only bloomed once.

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team August 11, 2017 at 9:43 am

      This post will teach you how to propagate your Kalanchoe. I wouldn’t recommend re-rooting in water – succulents don’t like to have their roots wet for very long.

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