What To Do With Too Long Aerial Roots On Orchids

What To Do With Too Long Aerial Roots On Orchids

The roots of your orchid grow not only in the substrate, but also further and further beyond the pot? I’ll explain in this post what such aerial roots are all about and how to tame them.

What are aerial roots?


In orchids, aerial roots are the roots that grow above the substrate. In general, especially plants that grow as perching plants on other plants or stones develop such roots. On the one hand, they use them to hold on to the substrate. On the other hand, they absorb water and nutrients through the roots.

In Phalaenopsis orchids, the aerial roots are usually grayish to silvery-glossy or even greenish. Some orchids form only a few and short aerial roots, while others form really many and really long.

What To Do With Too Long Aerial Roots On Orchids

Besides Phalaenopsis, especially Vanda and Dendrobium like to form aerial roots. This is due to the fact that in nature they grow on bare rocks and tree trunks. Here they have to hold on with their roots.

In the case of the Vanda, the roots are almost always completely exposed. A reason why it also thrives at home best without substrate and with bare roots.

What is special about aerial roots?


A characteristic feature of aerial roots is that they are not very branched. By the way, this is not only true for aerial roots in orchids.

Orchid aerial roots, however, have the special feature that they are particularly luxuriantly surrounded by a sponge-like tissue. This tissue is called velamen. And it has a decisive advantage: if it rains or the humidity rises, it can soak up water like a sponge.

In addition, aerial roots of orchids also store chlorophyll. You can recognize it by its greenish color. With this they can photosynthesize in addition to the leaves and thus provide energy to the plant.

Can I cut the roots?


As you can see, the aerial roots play an important role for your orchids in their water and energy balance. Simply cutting them off is therefore not a good idea. Not only will you weaken them, but you also risk infection with germs at the cut site.

In general, you should only cut off all roots on your orchid for two reasons: Either they are rotten and therefore mushy. Or they are dried out and dead. In all other cases, keep the scissors away from the root.

What do I do if the long roots bother me?


Of course, it can still be that especially long and lush aerial roots bother you at some point. Perhaps they take up too much space on the windowsill. Or they may cause your orchid to become crooked because the weight is no longer evenly distributed.

In this case, there is a simple remedy to get the aerial roots under control. Simply plant them in the fresh substrate the next time you repot. If the root mass is very large, you may need a larger pot. But don’t choose a pot that is too big, because then you run the risk that the substrate cannot dry quickly enough after watering. This will quickly lead to rotting.

I hope you liked my information and now you know what to do in case of your orchid. If you still have questions, feel free to ask me in a comment below this post.

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