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.

23 Responses to Are aerial roots on succulents normal?

  1. 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.

  2. 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?

    • 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.

Let us know what you think!

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Wondering who I am?

Let me introduce myself... My name is Cassidy Tuttle and I’m a professional photographer turned succulent addict. These are my two sweet children and wonderful husband in the photo with me!

My adventure with succulents started with three small plants on the window sill of my basement apartment. Within a year I had propagated them and purchased more, totaling over 100 plants!

It’s been a fun adventure since then as I’ve drowned, burned, frozen, and starved my collection of succulents. This site is where I teach you how to avoid all those mistakes I made or help you recover from them.

While I’ve killed plenty of succulents in the last few years, I’ve also kept hundreds alive and thriving, and I know you can do the same!

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It’s true! I’m the author of Idiot’s Guides: Succulents which is designed to help those of us who love succulents (but are limited to growing on our window sills and porches) keep our succulents looking great.

You can purchase my book through my Amazon affiliate link here or pick it up at your local Barnes and Noble.

If printed books aren’t your thing, I’ve also written several ebooks about succulents on various topics including indoor growing, watering and propagating. You can check those out on this page.

My goal is to help you not just keep your succulents alive, but help them thrive no matter where you live.

Whew! That’s a lot of stuff!

I’m impressed you’ve made it this far down. You should probably be rewarded for that…

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I’m sure you’ll love my 30 Days of Quick Succulent Tips email series. Each day I’ll send you a 2-3 sentence tip about growing succulents along with a photo and link to learn more.

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