Can I Cut Off Air Roots? 3 Ways to Deal with Aerial Roots

If you have grown or owned succulents for some time, it is likely that you have found that, at some point, some of them begin to grow roots emerging from the stem. These are called aerial roots, and although it is not a dangerous situation, it is a clear sign that your succulent needs attention.

can i cut off air roots

Reasons for Succulent Growing Aerial Roots

First of all, it is important to know that plants have two important systems, one aerial: the stem and the other underground: the root system. The aerial portion includes organs such as leaves, buds, flowers, and fruits. The root portion is made up of those parts of the plant that are below ground level, including the roots. The root is usually an underground structure, although in some plants they can be aquatic or aerial and basically fulfill two functions:

  1. Fix the plant on the ground or on the body where it should live.
  2. To take part of the food or nutrients necessary to live there

Some species of succulent plants, when mature, tend to form aerial roots on their stem, whitish at first and then turning pink towards brown. There are succulents to which this does not happen, such as Aloe and Haworthia.

Why Does My Succulent Have Aerial Roots?

The most common reasons aerial roots can arise in succulents are:

  • The plant is waiting to fall, and wants to put the roots in just in case.
  • It feels that it lacks water and is trying to absorb the water vapor with the aerial roots.
  • The roots of this plant have grown so large that it is necessary to transplant it into a larger container.

Can I Cut Off Air Roots?

By studying the conditions in which your succulent is growing you can make decisions for each case:

  • Do nothing. It is not essential to remove them, unless you think they are too unsightly. However, make sure you water your succulent more deeply (not necessarily more often) and that it is getting enough light. If you leave the roots behind, they can harden or thicken and look like a small branch. This is normal.
  • Cut them. Some people may just not like the look, and that’s okay. Take a clean, sharp knife (or scissors) and proceed to cut them. Be aware that they will likely grow back and need to be cut back.
  • Propagation. When your observation indicates that the plant is looking to fix or anchor you can choose to transplant or propagate it. One of the slowest tasks, when you propagate succulents, is to wait for the roots to emerge. Succulents with aerial roots are already halfway through propagation, so you can cut your succulent leaving the roots at the bottom and covering them with soil.

Although the aerial roots of a succulent are not a big problem, it is a sign that you should consider when adjusting the care of your succulent.