image of aerial roots

Aerial Roots On My Plants – Does That Mean Something’s Wrong?

On a lot of my plants that I have kept inside this winter, I have a lot of aerial roots that have formed. Some of these are very tiny and some of these have created a large network beneath and hanging from the stems or junctions of the plants. Feeling a little guilty, I took a lot of photos of them as a kind of confessional. It seems to me that they are plants that are neglected somewhat – at least in my case.

image of aerial roots on succulent

Aerial roots  are roots that form above ground and usually stretch downward toward the soil. These are a type of adventitious roots (meaning they are roots in an unusual position), but they do not absorb water from the air.  In all my instances where they are occurring, they seem to be searching out for soil so that they can “move out” on their own.  The primary function of underground roots is to collect water and nutrients to transport through the plant. These aerial roots seem to be searching to grasp the soil or a support of some kind.

image of mother of thousands tiny roots

In my case, my aerial roots probably formed because the plants are in relatively low light or high humidity.  I crowd a lot of plants in my basement garden shop and some of them crowd out the others. ( Which also means that one sitting behind all the others gets neglected and gets dried out a lot.) I think these roots are trying to make a new plant before the old one dies. My bad.

This Mother of Thousands is making many new babies along her leaf tips, but the little new MOT are forming roots in anticipation of falling to the ground and going off on their own. These are not an adventitious root, since it is growing where it should be, but still a searching-for-soil root, right?

Do all succulents grow aerial roots?

Most of the time, the succulents that grow aerial roots are those with a stem. Dangling or hanging succulents that get tall or cascade tend to develop them and these dangling stems can be removed and planted to propagate the plant.

image of ghost plant with aerial roots

Some other types of roots are fibrous roots, creeping roots, taproots and tuberous roots, etc.  These can be for anchoring the plant, or creeping along the ground thereby propagating itself, or for searching out more moisture and nutrients. Various types of roots guard against drought by tapping deep into the soil for moisture, and for food storage.

Aerial Roots Up Close - Do They Hurt My Plant?

My Baby’s Tears now growing in an Aquarium converted to a Terrarium, are climbing the walls searching for a place to put down roots. These are an example of creeping roots since those tiny leaf axils will put down roots where ever they touch soil. These roots will also embed themselves in the porous hypertufa and grow into mats. Love it!  So pretty spreading in a hypertufa bowl. I am waiting for it to get warm enough to go outside.

image closeup of Babys Tears plant

Thanks for reading and be sure to watch the video.

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