Aerial Roots

aerial roots

What is the purpose of roots?

The roots are organs responsible for anchoring the plant to the substrate. It also has the function of absorbing water and minerals. In some species, it also stores and conducts substances necessary for the development of the plant. There are many types, and among the most common aerial roots in indoor plants when planting seeds. So you’re probably wondering: “What are aerial roots, and can I plant aerial roots to make new plants?” We will answer these questions and some more below.

What are Aerial Roots?

The aerial roots grow in the plant’s parts above the ground; these only function as anchors, fixing the plant to support structures such as trellises, rocks, and walls. That is, the roots do not carry out the absorption of nutrients. However, some types of aerial roots also absorb moisture and nutrients, just like underground roots.

aerial roots on bonsai plant
By Emmanuelm at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia

Why does my plant have roots sticking out of the sides?

Aerial Roots-Why does my plant have roots sticking out of the sides-SC
Aerial Roots: IG@leaf_supply

Plants often develop them to meet needs that their environment makes challenging to fill. For example, plants that live in swamps and bogs have underground roots, but they cannot absorb gases from the air. These plants produce “aerial roots” above the ground to help them with air exchange. In many cases, we can remove aerial roots without damaging the plant. But there are cases where these are essential for the plant’s health, and it is better to let them grow in peace.

Can I plant aerial roots?

We can’t plant all of the species with aerial roots in the ground. Epiphytes are plants that grow on other plants as structural support. Their aerial roots are meant to remain above ground to collect nutrients from the air and surface water, and waste. Epiphytic orchids are an example of this type of plant. The color of the aerial roots can tell you when it’s time to water your epiphytic orchids. Dry aerial roots are silvery gray, while those with high moisture are green.

Types of aerial plants

Aerial Roots-Types of aerial plants-Epiphytic air plants-SC
Epiphyte: IG@urban_epiphyte

Epiphytic air plants

These aerial plants tend to grow on the surface of other trees and plants or use their support. Since aerial plants are not parasitic, it is not usual for them to cause any damage the health of the plant that supports them.

Aerial Roots-Types of aerial plants-Lithophytic air plants-SC
 lithophytic plant: IG@mildredbonkers

Lithophytic air plants

Lithophytic aerial plants are distinguished from epiphytes in that, instead of rooting on other unusual larger plants, they tend to root on rocks, stones, or walls of some kind. These plants can absorb nutrients and substances from the support to which they have been attached.

Green aerial plants

These are, as the name suggests, those that have green leaves. They are characterized by not having trichomes, tiny, very short-lived hairs that help the plant absorb moisture from the air, requiring more favorable and humid climates.

Gray aerial plants

Gray aerial plants do have trichomes, which are what give their leaves and stems their gray coloration. Thanks to them, they are more resistant species that can obtain water and nutrients from the air, adapt to a broader spectrum of climates and conditions.

Aerial plant care

Aerial Plants-Light for aerial plants-SC
Air Plants near Window Indoor: IG@sparrow_tweets

Light for aerial plants

Like all plants, air plants need a good source of light. However, many do not tolerate direct sunlight, so it is recommended to have them in a lighted area with a semi-shade. Outdoors, make sure they’re protected from the hours when the sun is harshest, and indoors, put them near a window but so that the sun does not fall on them.

Irrigation

When it comes to watering, most will appreciate you moistening them once or twice a week. This frequency may be sufficient for gray-leaved species, but green-leaved species will need more watering to hydrate adequately. Besides, if the plant is near a heat source or air conditioner, it will dehydrate much faster and require more frequent waterings.

Nutrition of aerial plants

Since these plants do not have roots to sink into the ground to obtain their nutrients, they have to reach them through the air. Thus, the plant must be in a location with good circulation of clean air. This last detail is significant since if the air that reaches the plant is contaminated from any source, it will likely make our plant sick.

Temperature

The usual range of suitable temperatures for these plants goes from 50 to 90ºF, but in any case, it is better that you inform yourself of the weather that your specific species requires.

Aerial Roots-Can I cut the aerial roots of my plant-SC
Aerial Roots cut: Reddit@u/esme_2

Can I cut the aerial roots of my plant?

Depending on the species and class of plants, the answer is yes. The only consideration when cutting the roots is to be careful not to cut the plant’s base. It is preferable to leave a little basis and not damage the plant. We can immerse the plant in water for a few minutes. In this way, the roots become a little softer and will not cost us so much to cut. After removing the long seeds, we can take the opportunity to remove the dry leaves that are going to accumulate at the Air Plant base. Cutting the dry leaves is recommended for two reasons. The first is purely aesthetic; our plant looks better if it does not have dead leaves. The second reason is to prevent our plant from rotting. Dry leaves accumulate moisture, and this can cause healthy leaves to deteriorate if the humidity does not disappear in the recommended time.

Other types of root

Waders or fulcrums

When the aerial roots touch the ground, they become waders. They hang from the aerial part of the plant and reach the ground.

Aquatic

Rooted aquatic plants have vestigial vascular tissue and many feathery root hairs, with large amounts of air-filled spaces to store oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Aerial Roots-Other types of root-Pneumatophores-SC
Pneumatophores: IG@bethchattogardens

Pneumatophores

Aeration roots of plants that live in flooded or poorly drained places. They grow above the water surface, against gravity.

Prawns

Columnar, triangular, or tubular roots, also known as buttresses that originate at some trees’ base. They provide more significant anchorage, especially in very rainy areas or in soils with very loose soil.

Haustoria

Parasitic plant roots that penetrate the tissues of the host plant.

Storage roots

They store large amounts of substances made in photosynthesis.

Elongated and fleshy roots

Plant roots from desert environments or with long periods of drought. They have a large amount of parenchyma and can store a lot of water. Other plants have long lateral roots that extend to seek water.

>