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How and when to trim succulent roots

4 min read

How and when to trim succulent roots


Caring for succulents doesn't only revolve in just proper light exposure and watering routine. Their roots also need to be trimmed to grow healthier, and at the same time, keep them in shape. But how and when exactly can you trim the roots of your succulents? Read on to learn more!

Benefits of trimming succulent roots

Roots are what succulent uses to get all the air, water, and minerals it needs to prosper. Plus, it also serves as an anchor to keep them in place. 

With that in mind, it's essential to make sure that your plant has healthy roots to grow happily in the long run, and trimming them will help you achieve this, as it allows you to get rid of the old unproductive or inefficient ones that usually cause problems for succulents. On top of that, it also encourages the succulents to produce new roots that are stronger and more aggressive in absorbing the nutrients they need from the soil.

Benefits of trimming succulent roots
Trimming roots helps succulent have healthy roots to grow happily in the long run

When to Trim Succulent Roots?

Although trimming succulents roots isn't really necessary, there are quite a few reasons you need to do it such as;

  1. They start to grow extremely slow. Usually, when this happens, your succulents may already have dead roots that really need to be removed, as these hinder them from getting all the nutrients they need to grow to their full potential.
  2. Show signs of root rot, like leaf discoloration, wobbles easily, or new growth wilts quickly.
  3. Begin to be root bound. When this happens, you'll usually notice that the root system of your succulents starts to become tangled and sometimes see their roots come out of the holes.
Trimming succulent roots
Root bounds is one of the reasons for you to trim succulent roots


Once you see these signs, one of the ways to save your succulents is to trim the roots of your succulents. But keep in mind that while succulent roots can be pruned anytime, it's always best to do it at the beginning of their growing season. Doing this at a different time or toward the end of the growing season, the succulents may slowly produce new growth and will just pick up the phase again once they start actively growing.

To give you an idea, most succulents are actively growing during the summer season, but there are some that are winter growers, like Haworthia and Aeonium. If you are not sure when your succulents are dormant or grow actively, you can check out our succulent dormancy 101 article for your reference.

Another reason to trim the roots of your succulents is when aerial roots start to appear. Although they aren't really harmful to your babies, removing them will allow you to make them more presentable and pleasing to the eyes. Plus, removing aerial roots is simple! All you have to do is to pull or cut them off gently using a pair of scissors without removing the whole plant from the pot.

Trimming succulent roots
Another reason to trim the roots of your succulents is when aerial roots start to appear

Also, it's necessary to check the soil's condition first before trimming the roots, especially for those that are experiencing slow growth. Chances are, you may need to repot or give the plant fresh new soil as well to encourage vigorous growth again.

How to Trim Succulent Roots Properly?

Step 1: Remove the succulent from the pot. You can either turn the pot upside down or on its side if it's too big or heavy to hold using one hand. Tap the bottom of the pot at least 2 or 3 times for the plant to come out of the pot cleanly.

Step 2: Brush away the old soil and carefully cut any infected (like root rot) or overgrown roots of your succulents using a sharp, clean knife, pruning shears, or scissors

And in case you are going to get rid of root rot, make sure to also trim a small piece surrounding the infected areas to avoid it from spreading, then empty and disinfect the pot using an antibacterial soap or alcohol to kill those bacteria or fungal growth.

Step 3: Allow the succulent to dry out away from direct sunlight before replanting it in a pot (about 2-inches wider than the old one), then fill it with fast-draining cactus or succulent potting soil. Remember to gently shake the pot to fill in the air pockets with soil.

After trimming the roots, it is completely normal for your succulent to look a little tired as its current focus is to grow new roots for a few weeks. But once the plant has settled, you may start caring for it like how you usually do.

You can also watch this video to see some of the tips in action:



For Types of Succulents Careguide. Read more information here.

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