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Signs of Healthy and Unhealthy Roots in Succulents

6 min read

Signs of Healthy and Unhealthy Roots in Succulents

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Your succulents are your babies, and knowing how to take care of them in the face of overwatering, underwatering, and other sure signs of plant struggle. When your succulents are struggling, one of the first things to go are the roots. Catch early signs of common plant problems with these tricks for checking your succulent’s roots:

What do Healthy Roots Look Like?

Succulents are resilient, and even if their leaves, stems, or roots are a little bit damaged, they’ll press on and continue to thrive. Healthy succulent roots always appear white or light in color, long enough to hold the dirt in the shape of your pot, and veiny. Healthy roots will also appear moist and will taper in thickness the further they get from the rootball. If your succulent’s roots don’t quite hold most of the soil in your pot, don’t transplant it-- instead, let it grow a bit more before repotting.

Signs of Healthy and Unhealthy Roots in Succulents
If your succulent’s roots don’t quite hold most of the soil in your pot, let it grow a bit more before repotting.
Photo by Gary Barnes from Pexels

 

What do Unhealthy Roots Look Like?

Unhealthy roots may appear dry, crumbly, or dark in color. Alternatively, your succulent may be struggling if small root tips are visible above the soil’s surface or if roots stick out from the drainage hole in your pot. When repotting, always check your succulent’s roots to make sure they are healthy! There are a few common root problems that show themselves when you examine your plant’s roots:

1. Root Rot

Root rot is a product of overwatering but can also be caused by pests or poor drainage in your pot. Succulents struggling with root rot will have roots that appear either dark brown or black, and this discoloration will eventually spread to the rest of the plant if left untreated. Root rot kills fast, so it’s best to take care of it immediately.

Solution

There are several ways to treat root rot, and treatments vary based on how damaged your succulent may be. The first method for treatment, “the drying method,” is best for early-stage root rot (before any leaves start changing color), although it may take a few days to complete. With this method, remove your succulent from the pot to let its roots air out and dry. It may be hard to tell if this cures the rot immediately, so it is recommended to leave the roots exposed for a day or so before repotting. 

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