There is a good chance that you have noticed some small root shoots emerging from the leaf nodes of your Kalanchoe plants if you have turned up here. Can they be aerial roots? You don’t have to panic over aerial roots on your Kalanchoe plants as they are easy to correct.
Aerial roots will develop on your Kalanchoe plant if it does not receive enough water, which is particularly true in a humid environment. They are intended to absorb moisture from the surrounding environment. A thorough and deep watering should be beneficial in this situation.
Of course, there are several other potential causes of aerial roots on Kalanchoe plants. Keep reading, as I’ll walk you through them, as well.
What Are Aerial Roots?
Aerial roots are air roots that grow above the soil. They usually appear on the plant’s nodes or internodes.
The aerial roots themselves are typically no issue for your plant. The problem is what they’re saying about your care regimen. In certain houseplants, including your precious Kalanchoe plants, aerial roots are a telling sign that something is off.
As you might expect, not all aerial roots are created equal. On different plants, they may work or even look different.
For instance, the Kalanchoe plant’s aerial roots are relatively thin and often shoot from leaf nodes. These whitish roots may sport a touch of pink hue on them.
In pothos, aerial roots are specialized for climbing structural supports like walls. However, aerial roots on Kalanchoe plants are almost exclusively meant for absorbing moisture from the atmosphere.
What Functions Do Aerial Roots Serve?
Unsurprisingly, aerial roots are built to serve different functions on different plants. At their core, they act almost like below-ground roots. That’s to say; they help with breathing and the absorption of essential resources like gases and nutrients.
In some plants, they double up as traveling tools. They help the plant expand its reach and thus get more resources wherever they may be. Or, more commonly, aerial roots act as stabilizers, assisting the plant in maintaining its upright position as it grows and becomes heavier.
I know what you’re asking yourself. “So, what are the functions of aerial roots on my Kalanchoe Plant?”
Kalanchoe Plants don’t seem to fit most of the profiles I discussed when it comes to aerial roots. Except for one: to absorb moisture. You must not forget that the Kalanchoe plant is a stemmed succulent.
Succulents with stems are typically heavy growers and often grow aerial roots. The water stored in the succulent foliage may surely last the plant a while. But the moisture reservoir will need to be replenished at some point.
If your Kalanchoe plant detects consistent moisture in the atmosphere, it will send out aerial roots. Like the soil roots, these structures are equipped to draw water directly from the surrounding air. It may also end up taking up nutrients and minerals dissolved in the moisture.
This may also help to explain why most aerial roots grow on Kalanchoe Plants during the wet summer months. The air around your plant is chock full of humidity. Yet hot summer temperatures are causing indoor potting mixes to dry out fast.
The bottom line is that aerial roots are a fancy way your Kalanchoe plant tells you it could use a drink. Just poke your finger into the soil. You’ll probably find it to be bone dry.
What Causes Aerial Roots to Grow on My Kalanchoe Plant?
What you might already tell from aerial roots growing on your Kalanchoe Plant is that something is off. But what’s responsible for these air roots?
Kalanchoe plants love basking in the full sun. They will be happiest if they receive more than 4 hours of direct sunlight. They’ll thrive even better if the exposure comes from a south-facing window.
If it’s potted, your Kalanchoe plant won’t mind a flood of bright filtered natural sunlight. What it detests, however, is low light. A Kalanchoe plant growing in a less-than-bright room will start sending out air roots.
Aerial roots appear mainly during the high-growth season from spring through summer. Your plant is proliferating, and it needs plenty of sunlight. Optimum photosynthesis is vital to generate enough food and energy to power the growth spurt.
Naturally, if your Kalanchoe plant isn’t getting enough light, it will start stretching out. Under these wanting light conditions, it will look lankier and experience leggy growth with aerial roots emerging on the stems. It’s just a reactive way of trying to reach out for more light.
In most cases, your Kalanchoe Plant will produce aerial roots if you change its placement suddenly. Perhaps you moved it from outdoors to indoors in a single swoop. It is this transfer shock that ends up stimulating the growth of air roots.
To avoid this, you must transition your plant slowly. Start early and move your plant for a week or longer so that it can get accustomed to dappled light. This is especially important at the end of summer when you want to relocate it indoors.
Over the years, I’ve discovered that Kalanchoe plants are tolerant of gradual movements. They won’t send out aerial roots if you give them time to acclimatize.
Lack of Watering
Underwatering is the most likely reason for Kalanchoe plants growing aerial roots. So, it makes much more sense to check the soil moisture first. If your finger registers bone-dry soil, then bingo – there’s the culprit!
Move your inspection to the foliage. Yes, the Kalanchoe plant is a reasonably drought-resistant succulent. However, too dry soil will cause your plant to experience dwarfed growth, defoliate, and develop brown leaf spots.
Sunburning signs, such as browned edges and tips, are also indicative of too little water. Consequently, the foliage will become soft, get wrinkled, and fade. Dehydration may also lead to loss of turgidity.
Before they do that, your Kalanchoe plant will trigger its natural instinct of finding water. Part of this mission is putting out aerial roots. They will serve as moisture-finding and absorbing structures.
As a stem-bearing succulent, a Kalanchoe plant prefers the potting mix to be moist but never soggy. For optimal soil moisture, I like soak irrigation.
- Prepare a bath for your Kalanchoe plant in a sink or tub. The water depth should be around four inches. Or reach three-quarters of the height of the potting container.
- Put the saucer or water collector aside. And then let your plant sit in the fill.
- The time it takes to soak up enough water will depend on the size of the pot. The drainage of potting mix will also have a say. More drainage holes will also facilitate soaking.
- Once the soil an inch deep from the surface is saturated, remove the plant. The excess water will take ten or so minutes to drain. Don’t hurry.
- Replace the saucer and get your Kalanchoe plant to its default placement. Be sure to check the saucer often for perched water. Dump this excess immediately.
- To achieve this with your Kalanchoe Plant, place the container in a sink or basin and apply water to the surface of the potting soil until water emerges from the drainage hole in the base of the container.
- Only water again when 1 inch of soil beneath the surface feels dry to your finger.
If you like to apply irrigation water from above, ensure it soaks enough to escape from drainage holes. Let it sit for fifteen minutes to drain, then drain the water on the saucer.
Avoid overhead irrigation by all means. Dampness on the stems and leaves will invite root disease and sometimes pests.
What About Too Much Water?
Succulents are built for water-scarce environments. But Kalanchoe plants are not equipped to deal with excess water in the soil. If the potting mix becomes soggy or too wet, you couldn’t ask for better conditions for root rot.
The excess moisture will push out oxygen from the soil. This causes Kalanchoe plant roots to die back and decay. Your plant will show its displeasure through a raft of symptoms:
- Yellowed leaves (mostly older and lower foliage)
- Soft, soggy foliage
- Smelly and black-looking, mushy roots
- Leaf drop
- Brown spots and edges
Be that as it may, overwatering doesn’t cause your Kalanchoe plant to produce aerial roots. An overwatered Kalanchoe plant will quickly decline in health and eventually die from root rot. So, that’s one less worry if you see them.
Excessive Heat (Too High Indoor Temperature is a Problem!)
Like all succulents, Kalanchoe plants do okay in high-temperature conditions. But they’ve adapted to arid climates where temperature changes aren’t too drastic. Unfortunately, most homes use radiators, fireplaces, and central heating, which quickly send temperatures soaring to very high.
That’s a problem for your Kalanchoe plant. When it feels that temperatures are rising fast, it will grow aerial roots to get water as quickly as possible. After all, increasing temperatures in nature usually mean the drought is coming!
You could say your Kalanchoe plant is putting out aerials roots as a way of preparing for an impending future. How do you know your Kalanchoe plant is experiencing high-temperature stress?
- Leaves turn brown or purple at the edges or tips
- Potting mix dries out faster than normal
- Bottom leaves are drying, crisping up, and browning
As such, to prevent the growth of aerial roots, you should ensure your Kalanchoe plant isn’t exposed to sudden high temperatures. The ideal day temperatures I recommend to you are in the 65-75°F (18 – 34°C) range.
Does too low temp cause the sprout of aerial roots? Nope, but that doesn’t mean it is a good thing for your plant. Cold and low temp stress your Kalanchoe plant, causing the foliage to turn purple and wilt.
Don’t let the label “drought-resistant” fool you. Kalanchoe plants require ample feeding to show their best growth features. The growth of aerial roots may actually be a telltale sign that potting mix has been depleted of nutrients.
If there are no symptoms of lack of light, too little water, and high temperatures, deficiency of macronutrients like nitrogen could be the problem. It’s calling you to apply some fertilizer.
Apply a flowering houseplant fertilizer every one to two months according to its growth cycle. That means growth-season application between April and September is the best.
In most cases, you can rectify the problem by repotting a Kalanchoe plant afresh. These succulents need a fast-draining cactus mix (Amazon link). Ensure it has some orchid bark chunks, grit, sand, or vermiculite.
A little peat moss or composted bark will also add much-needed organic matter. Use an equal part of perlite to enhance drainage. From here, repot your Kalanchoe plant once every year.
I love and take great care of my Kalanchoe plants. But even with the most care, mishaps do happen. You may break a branch, stems, or injure foliage while tending to your plant.
Worse still, you may sever some roots or bruise the root system while repotting. Letting in some cold winter draft will cause injury to your Kalanchoe plant, as well. The same is true of overfertilizing and using softened tap water.
In all these situations, your Kalanchoe plant may become traumatized. It will likely send out aerial roots as a reactive or protective action.
How Can I Get Rid of Aerial Roots from My Kalanchoe Plants
I must make one thing clear: aerial roots will not harm your Kalanchoe plant in any way. You may choose to keep them. That pink tinge can add a little pizzazz to your plant!
However, they may look unsightly to you purely from an aesthetic view. Well, they don’t do much for your Kalanchoe plant indoors.
So, if you want to get rid of them, snip them off as close as possible to the stem. Ensure not to bruise or snip some of the flesh off the stem. Note also that they might come back if you don’t change the causative conditions.
How to Propagate Kalanchoe Plant with Aerial Roots
Kalanchoes are known to do this on a regular basis. If the roots are causing you irritation, you can cut them off, but they will almost certainly regrow.
Instead, you could take advantage of the opportunity to propagate the plant by taking cuttings from it. If you cut beneath the surface of the soil, you will have a fully functional plant almost instantly.
Propagating a Kalanchoe plant is easy. And it doesn’t matter if it has aerial roots or not. Because aerial roots may be a sign of distress, it’s best to propagate when it doesn’t have them.
- Remove a couple of opposing pairs of leaves.
- Enclose the cuttings in a transparent plastic bag to keep in moisture
- Lay them onto a moist mixture of one part soil and one part perlite/vermiculite
- They will develop roots after a few weeks. Once they do, repot them.
Will Aerial Roots on My Kalanchoe Plant Dry Out?
Aerial roots will appear on your Kalanchoe plant if it is not receiving enough water or is otherwise distressed. Once you have resolved the issue, they will begin to dry out and possibly fall off.