What to Do with the Aerial Roots of Orchids? Should They Be Cut?

by Kristiyana

What are these long whitish stems growing on my orchid? These are actually aerial roots. What is their function? Should they be cut? Do they have to be put in the ground or in water? Does this mean that the pot is too small for the plant? How to transplant it? Is this really necessary? Find out everything you need to know about the aerial roots of orchids with expert advice.

What Are the Aerial Roots of Orchids?

what to do with the aerial roots of orchids should you cut them

Do you know what an epiphyte is? These are a special group of plants that climb and live attached to other larger species. Orchids are one of them. They are not, however, parasitic. They are simply trying to move higher in the forest in order to reach the sunlight needed for photosynthesis. This is why orchids have aerial roots. They are not meant to grow in the ground, but in the air, where they absorb nutrients and moisture. This means there is no need to put them in water or plant them in soil.

Did you know that Monstera deliciosa is also part of this group of plants, and that it spreads aerial roots around the pot in search of a substrate to climb on?

Should You Cut the Roots of Orchids?

cutting the roots of orchids how when why

What will happen if you cut the aerial roots of the plant? Will this damage it or interrupt its development?

Sometimes these “stems” become so long that they extend and disrupt the aesthetic of your home. Plus, you won’t let your flower climb the curtains anyway. If they get too big, just shorten them. This will not stop the orchid from growing. But beware! Do this one at a time over a long period so as not to stress the plant and give it a chance to adapt to this change. After all, you are removing an important part of its body. Also, take into account that the best time to do this is generally during the repotting of your orchid.

As a general rule, healthy roots should be left, regardless of their length, and only damaged roots (which have turned brown) should be cut. Even though they look strange, they lower the humidity in the air in the room, produce more oxygen and respectively absorb more carbon dioxide.

How to Cut the Aerial Roots of Orchids? Pruning & Repotting Advice


The video above is very informative, so we advise all gardening beginners to check it out. You can see step by step how to care for your orchids, including which aerial roots to cut and how to do it. Once you have pruned your orchid and cleared it of old leaves, stems and roots, it will be much easier to repot.

And to answer the question in the first paragraph: Aerial root growth means that the plant is healthy and well-developed, and that it is time to repot the orchid. This is usually done every year or two. The best time is spring, but always after flowering.

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