If you’re a fan of Kalanchoe, then you have mostly brought it home for how beautiful it is. The different pretty shades of red, yellow, white, and pink are the main reason why most people seek Kalanchoes.
As a Kalanchoe enthusiast, you have spent the last few weeks taking care of your plant, but one day, you’ve found some roots on the stem.
You may not be an expert but most people know that roots are supposed to be under the soil. So, you sit down on your trusty laptop and Google Kalanchoe roots on stem: what does it mean?
Kalanchoe roots on stem or “aerial roots” usually mean that your plant isn’t doing very well. On most occasions, Kalanchoes will send out aerial roots to compensate for an existing nutritional problem.
Your job as a plant keeper is to identify that problem and deal with it whenever possible.
Are Aerial Roots Normal on a Kalanchoe Plant?
The main purpose of roots is to gather nutrients for the plant. Since most of the nutrients are in the soil, the majority of the plants will have their roots beneath the soil.
For some plants like Orchids, aerial roots are a common and normal sight.
However, Kalanchoes and other succulents may abnormally form aerial roots on some of their endings. Aerial roots on Kalanchoes are a common sight but they’re often a manifestation of an underlying problem.
Seeing an aerial root on your Kalanchoe could be a sign that your plant is lacking one or more growth requirements. You should understand why aerial roots form on Kalanchoes and how you should handle it.
Keep in mind that those aerial roots won’t go away after you handle the problem. At that point, their existence shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
Why Do Aerial Roots Form on Kalanchoes?
Many reasons could force a Kalanchoe plant to form some aerial roots.
Lack of Sunlight
Lack of sunlight is one of the most common reasons for Kalanchoes to form aerial roots.
Kalanchoe plants get their energy from minerals they absorb from the soil and through sunlight. When sunlight isn’t enough, Kalanchoes will start to grow some roots on the stems and extremities.
This is done as an attempt to compensate for the lack of sunlight by forming roots that could potentially get nutrients from somewhere else.
If you have other pots around your Kalanchoe, it might dip those aerial roots in neighboring soil to search for nutrients.
To exclude reduced sunlight from the list of possible causes, place your Kalanchoe near a window where it could get at least 6 hours a day of indirect sunlight.
Lack of Water
Most plants are between 77 and 91% water, so it’s no doubt that water is essential for any plant. It helps the plant absorb minerals from the soil and the nutrients to flow through the plants’ structure.
Although Kalanchoes are succulents, they still need to be watered every 2–3 weeks. If there’s a lack of water, the plant will attempt to secure water from somewhere else.
As a result, it will form aerial roots to gather water from nearby soil or water vapor. If you notice aerial roots on your Kalanchoe and suspect that lack of water is the reason, there’s an easy way to make sure.
Start watering your Kalanchoe in shorter intervals and keep an eye on the aerial roots. If the problem is indeed a lack of water, the growth of new aerial roots should stop within days.
Hold on a minute, we’ve just mentioned that lack of water can lead to the growth of aerial roots. How can excessive water cause the same result?
The extra water on Kalanchoes (or any other plant) will contribute to root rot. Excessive water will deprive the root of getting enough oxygen, and it will also help in the formation of fungal infections.
These factors combined will cause rotting of the plant root which in turn, reduces the amount of nutrients the plant can get from the soil.
To compensate for the reduced minerals, the Kalanchoe will grow aerial roots and attempt to get nutrients from the surrounding environment.
Keep in mind that excessive water isn’t always a result of overwatering the plant. Poorly drained soil would also lead to stagnation of water even if you are watering your plant correctly.
To avoid stagnating the soil, don’t place rocks at the bottom of your pot. These rocks are thought to help drain the soil but what they do is the exact opposite.
Those sub-soil rocks form what’s known as the perched water table. In short, these rocks keep the water at the same level of roots for extended periods which causes rot.
Many problems of the Kalanchoe plants stem from improper soil. Unfortunately, most of these soil-related problems don’t arise until the plant has already grown and is about to bloom.
Because of that, it’s hard to link the problem of aerial roots to improper soil. Your mind will be like: the plant already started growing in that soil, so the problem can’t be from the soil.
Planting your Kalanchoe in heavy soil is one of the worst things you can do to it. That heavy soil will retain a lot of water and root rotting will be inevitable. Again, once the roots start to rot, the Kalanchoe will grow aerial roots to look for food elsewhere.
If you’ve already planted your Kalanchoe in heavy soil, it’s not too late. You are still able to fix things before your Kalanchoe starts deteriorating. All you have to do is transfer your plant to new soil.
Another reason for aerial roots on a Kalanchoe is insufficient space.
If you place your Kalanchoe in a tight pot, the water will drain faster than the roots can absorb minerals. Additionally, you subject the plant to root binding.
A root-bound plant is a plant whose roots have completely clogged the pot it’s planted in. Those bound roots overlap and knot each other which reduces their ability to absorb the nutrients.
The bound roots also take up much of the space that was previously occupied by the soil. All of those factors combined will force the Kalanchoe to seek nutrients elsewhere and thus, it forms the aerial roots.
Fortunately, you can still undo these issues. Start by pruning the roots of the Kalanchoe. Once you’re done, you’ll need to place the plant in a bigger pot where the roots won’t suffocate each other as they grow.
If the Kalanchoe is placed in an insufficient amount of soil, it will be starved.
Little soil means fewer nutrients and less water. It also means more water drainage and less space for the roots to occupy.
This is a reason for the Kalanchoe to form aerial roots and seek food to compensate for the little amount it gets from the soil.
Always make sure to use a sufficient amount of soil for your plant. The bigger your plant is, the more soil and nutrients it will need.
Sometimes, the Kalanchoe plant is too tall to keep itself upright. Since Kalanchoes are herbaceous plants, they lack the wooden stem that keeps the plant upright as it gets longer.
To overcome that, the Kalanchoe will form some aerial roots and extend its extremities to nearby solid surfaces.
In this Scenario, your Kalanchoe won’t be suffering from a problem, it’s just trying to keep itself upright using those extra aerial roots.
If you have a long Kalanchoe and you have ruled out any possible causes, then you shouldn’t worry too much if you see aerial roots.
That’s it for our “Kalanchoe roots on stem: what does it mean?” guide. Except for maintaining its balance, the presence of aerial roots on your Kalanchoe is usually a sign that there’s a problem.
To wrap things up quickly, most of these problems have to do with insufficient nutrition for your plant.
Excessive or reduced amounts of water will harm the roots of the Kalanchoe and cause the formation of aerial roots.
Reduced space, soil, and sunlight are also contributing factors to the formation of roots on the stem of the Kalanchoe.
If you’d like your Kalanchoe to live longer, you should deal with whatever is causing the aerial root problem as soon as possible.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.