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What is aerial roots on succulent plants

4 min read

What is aerial roots on succulent plants


If you have been into succulents for quite some time now, you might have noticed that some of them develop thin white or pink roots growing out of their stem. These are called aerial roots.

But what exactly are aerial roots? Is it one of the signs why a succulent isn’t doing well? 

Keep reading to learn more about aerial roots, what they mean for your succulents, and as well as how to fix them.


Aerial roots are roots found above the ground. In other words, they do not grow where they are supposed to, which is underneath the soil. They appear in light pink or white in color and look thinner than the roots you would find underground but will eventually turn brown, dry out, and fall off naturally over a period of time.

What is aerial roots on succulents
Aerial roots on succulents are roots found above the ground


Don't panic if you see that your succulents are beginning to develop aerial roots. Your succulents are still healthy and would just require a bit more attention than usual. In fact, they have a lot of functions that help out the plants that they grow on, like:

  • They help the succulents to absorb nutrients and moisture in the air. This is really useful, especially for those that are grown in humid areas, such as rainforests.
  • Can grow downwards until they make contact with the soil, which will definitely help support weaker stems.
  • Aerial roots have small pores that can help the succulents take in air as needed, which is very helpful for those with waterlogged soil.
  • Helps with propagation. If a trailing plant like a burro’s tail or string of pearls were cut off, aerial roots will help the new cutting absorb nutrients and water right away. Offsets from plants, like Mother of Thousands, can grow aerial roots so that when they drop off, they can propagate further.


But how and why exactly do aerial roots form on your succulents? Aerial roots will usually form on succulents with stems, and the most common problem why they sprout includes:

  • Underwatering
  • Yes, succulents that don't get sufficient water will not only lead their leaves to look shriveled but also trigger them to send out aerial roots in search of more moisture.

    aerial roots on succulents
    Underwatering can cause aerial roots to form on succulents
    Photo credit: @NeonZebraPrint on Reddit

    So if you don't want to prevent them from developing aerial roots, you should keep the following in mind: 

    • Water at least once every 7 to 10 days during Summer, and once every 3 to 4 weeks in the Winter.
    • Always allow the top 1 to 2-inches of the soil to dry before watering.
    • When watering, soak them real good until the water flows out the drainage hole, then allowing it to dry out completely in between waterings.
    • Water directly into the soil, not on the leaves.
    • Make sure to use a well-draining and porous soil mix.

    For more watering tips, click here.

  • Increase in humidity
  • In addition to being underwatered, succulents in a very humid environment may also develop aerial roots as they will try to absorb water from the surrounding air to supplement their needs to survive.

    What is aerial roots on succulents
    Increase in humidity can cause aerial roots to form on succulents
    Photo credit: sunzilla on

    However, keep in mind that succulents are desert plants that like to be in dry climates, so an increase in humidity may lead to root rot, as the water may stay longer in the soil for too long.

    To avoid this, it's best to transfer your succulent to a spot where they can get better airflow and are less humid.

  • Lack of Sunlight
  • We all know that lack of sunlight will cause your succulents to stretch out and become top-heavy with spaced-out leaves. Now, if this happens, your succulents may also form aerial roots. However, the roots won't be absorbing anything from the air, as their goal is to support the plant to prevent it from falling.

    What is aerial roots on succulents
    Lack of sunlight can cause aerial roots to form on succulents
    Photo credit: ernthealmighty on

    To avoid this, you should gradually transition your succulent to a spot where they can get more sunlight, like a south-facing window. If you see that it's still not enough, then consider using a grow light.

    What is aerial roots on succulent plants


    As mentioned above, aerial roots are harmless and can be left attached to your succulents. However, if you do not like their appearance or they have become quite numerous and bushy in an ugly way, then you may snip them off carefully using a scissor or simply pull them off with tweezers.

    Watch the video below (and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos) to see what should you do if your succulents have aerial roots:





    For Types of Succulents Careguide. Read more information here.

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