An important part of an orchid is aerial roots: what are they and why are they needed, what to do with them?

An important part of an orchid is aerial roots: what are they and why are they needed, what to do with them?

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Having started an orchid, an inexperienced florist with chagrin discovers that not very presentable roots are sticking out of a pot with gorgeous flowers.

They diverge from the plant in all directions and do not want to bury themselves in the substrate. The hand reaches for the scissors to cut off the excess. Whether it is necessary to do this and how to deal with aerial roots, read our article.

What it is?


Air roots are called roots that are not submerged in the ground.... This is a characteristic feature of epiphytes, which include orchids.

Reference! The word epiphyte comes from the Greek epi (na) and phytos (plant). This is the name of the way of existence in which one plant is attached to another, but does not receive any nutrients from it, that is, it does not parasitize.


The main feature of the aerial roots in orchids is in their upper layer, velamen... This is corky tissue formed by multiple cell division. Under it are the exoderm, cortex, endoderm, and an axial cylinder, which looks like a thread, which are common for roots.

The velamen itself resembles a sponge in structure. Through it, nutrients and water get to the center of the root. Also, the root tissues contain chloroplasts, thanks to which it is capable of photosynthesis and has a green color.

Velamen is formed only when the root is in the air and the plant is dried.


The aerial roots of a healthy orchid are firm, firm and smooth... In young plants they are bright green, in “older” plants they are lighter and grayish.

A normal root has a growing tip, which is undesirable to injure - this can negatively affect the plant as a whole. On a cut, aerial roots are cylindrical or flat.

It is believed that the flower does well if the aerial roots turn bright green during watering and at other times have a silvery gray color. Therefore, when watering, it is convenient to inspect the roots in order to find out if there are any dried ones among them.

How do they differ from ordinary ones?

There are no internal differences, but external ones are:

  • location (some are inside the substrate, others outside);
  • the presence of velamen at the aerial roots;
  • different thickness (those roots that are outside the substrate are thicker than their "earthen" counterparts).

Why are they growing?

The appearance of aerial roots is normal for an orchid. A healthy flower will try to create as strong a root system as possible. A caring florist who understands what these roots are for a plant should not be worried about their presence, but about their condition and too many.

Why you need it: basic functions

Extracts nutrients

When moisture gets on the surface of the roots, the membranes of the velamen cells swell... Then the water gradually seeps deeper and deeper, reaching the axial cylinder, in order to disperse from there through all the vessels of the plant.

Interestingly, in most orchids, the velamen layer becomes thicker in places that come into contact with water containing a large amount of salt.

Besides, microorganisms were found inside velamen, whose task is to process salts, and some of them were needed for nitrogen fixation.

Create support

In nature, orchids grab tree trunks with roots and attach them to stones.

What to do with them?

If there are many roots:

  1. Monitor the irrigation regime, avoid waterlogging.
  2. Reduce watering frequency and intensity.
  3. Remove overgrown roots if they start to rot or dry out.

If the roots are few:

  1. Periodically check the soil and transplant the orchid if necessary, but not more often than once every 2-3 years.
  2. Move the plant to a more suitable location.
  3. Fertilize the soil.

What if there are many roots?

The number of aerial roots in an exotic beauty is normally from 2 to 5.

What are the reasons?

  • Air... If there are too many roots, this means that the air is too dry for the orchid. When this exotic is hot, it will try to get more moisture from the atmosphere using its roots.

    To stop the process, it is necessary to move the flower to a place with more humid air or create a more comfortable environment for the plant artificially. Cover the growing roots with moss to create natural moisture.

  • Substrate... If the components are incorrectly selected, the orchid will compensate for the lack of nutrients by taking them from the air. Other possible problems with the contents of the pot are salinity of the substrate, its too small fraction, soil compaction.
  • Underground problems... They can be very different - from excessive dryness to diseases and pests. Whatever happens to the roots inside the pot, what happens will cause aerial roots to grow as the plant seeks to survive.
  • Temperature... Overheating occurs when the orchid is exposed to the sun or over a radiator.

Can I delete?

Healthy aerial roots cannot be removed.... This will traumatize the flower, which can delay flowering and slow growth. If you cut off too many roots, the orchid may even die without food.

You can only remove dried or diseased roots, cutting them off in whole or in part, depending on the condition. Do not forget to disinfect the sections with activated charcoal.

How to be in different situations?

There are no roots at all

If you purchased a plant from a store and it does not have aerial roots, most likely they were simply buried in the substrate, and later they will appear.

Few roots may be due to insufficient lighting... Orchids do not like very bright sun, but they are also difficult to tolerate poor illumination.

Since this flower is an epiphyte, the complete absence of aerial roots should make you wonder whether you are taking care of the flower correctly, whether it is sick.

There are only such

Sometimes it happens that the usual roots of an orchid disappear. In this case, you can increase them, for this there are several ways:

  • in water (drugs are added to it to stimulate root growth, then the base of the flower is placed and placed in a lighted place);
  • in the greenhouse (the flower is installed in a greenhouse made of bags or bottles, at the bottom of which soil and drainage are laid);
  • in sphagnum (the orchid is placed in moss soil so that the growth point remains open, and sprayed with water);
  • on the bark (the growth zone of the flower must be fixed so that it comes into contact with the previously prepared bark).

Important! Whichever method you choose to restore the root system, you need to carefully monitor the lighting, as well as the temperature and humidity of the air. Rooting in moss and bark is the slowest but most effective method.

Frequent problems and solutions

Dry up

  1. Insufficient watering... During periods when there is little moisture, the orchid begins to "pump out" it from the aerial roots. If the drought is too long, the roots cannot be recovered. If it was possible to notice drying in time, the orchid can be bathed: put in a container of water for several hours, then dry the pot and moisten it again after a few days. The procedure is repeated until the root system returns to normal.
  2. Excess watering... High humidity and too much water, oddly enough, can provoke drying of the aerial roots. Reduce the frequency of watering and the plant will most likely bounce back.
  3. Burn... If the roots first darkened and only then began to dry, most likely the reason for this was the burn. It can be caused by salts contained in too hard water, therefore it is recommended to water orchids with settled or filtered water. A too high concentration of fertilizers can also become the cause of a burn, so it is worth diluting them more.
  4. Fungal diseases... Orchids are not very resistant to fungi, and if there is any plaque on the dry roots, take measures to combat pathogens.


  1. Excessive hydration... This happens when the owner of the flower thinks that the real tropics are constantly high humidity. In their natural environment, orchids also experience dry periods, and this must be borne in mind when growing an exotic flower at home.
  2. Priming... It is useful to replant a flower from time to time, since old soil can retain moisture, which causes harm to the root system. At the same time, you will get rid of rotting roots that do not benefit your fellows. You will need scissors for trimming. After the procedure, the wounds on the plant should be sprinkled with activated carbon for disinfection.
  3. Fertilizers... They can cause not only a burn, but also a kind of overdose, becoming not a top dressing, but a poison. It is advisable to take less fertilizer for breeding than indicated in the instructions.
  4. Diseases... The orchid is affected by such ailments as late blight, brown, gray and black rot, various fungi and viruses. In the latter case, the plant can only be disposed of; in all others, one can try to cure it.

Attention! After pruning the rotten roots, refrain from watering the orchid for at least a couple of days, otherwise new sources of decomposition will appear.

The aerial roots of an orchid are an important part of its life support system., therefore, they must be carefully looked after. Despite the fact that an exotic beauty is able to bring trouble to the owner, with the right content, she will more than repay for her care with lush beautiful flowers.

You can learn a lot of new and useful information about aerial roots in orchids by watching this video:

Watch the video: Orchid roots - Purpose, features and debunking myths (May 2022).


  1. Mikakree

    Bravo, what a phrase ... a great thought

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  5. Hartmann

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  6. Armaan

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