What to do with the air roots of an orchid?
It’s common knowledge that a plant has roots, but the air roots of an orchid are a little less known. So you’re probably wondering what they are, what their function is and whether you can cut off an orchid’s air roots. Read all about it in this article!
Also read: How to make orchids rebloom again?
What are air roots?
Curious about what the roots that grow outside of the pot of your orchid are? Air roots are crazy-looking tendrils that look a little like tentacles, but they are perfectly normal! They are firm and white, and often grow downwards.
What is the function of air roots?
Orchids use their roots to absorb nutrients from the air, absorbing moisture and obtaining carbon dioxide they need to thrive. However, this is especially true in areas and climates with high humidity. In the average living room, this function is therefore less effective and doesn’t have a huge effect on the growth of your plant.
Fun fact: orchids are epiphytes, which means they grow on other plants – such as a tree in a tropical rainforest. They use their roots to attach themselves to tree branches high above the jungle floor, to attempt to reach the light filtering through the leafy canopy. So, many plants that we place in a pot are actually climbing plants!
Should I cut the air roots off my orchid?
Not everyone is a fan of aerial roots, as they can make the plant look a bit crazy. However, if the air roots are firm and white, they are healthy and you don’t need to do anything at all. Trim the ones looking brown and soft, but work carefully to avoid cutting too deep and harming the plant. Do the air roots really bother you? Then cut a few off, but not all at once. This way your orchid can slowly get used to it.