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Do Anthuriums Have Aerial Roots?

Do Anthuriums Have Aerial Roots?

Anthuriums are popular houseplants that grow many roots, some of which appear to be above the soil line, but do anthuriums have aerial roots or are these growths something else?

Anthuriums do indeed grow aerial roots. This is completely natural and happens because anthuriums are epiphytes, which means that they naturally grow on other plants.

I’ve had the joy of keeping an anthurium for over 4 years now. In that time it has developed lots of aerial roots, so in this guide, I’ll show you examples of what these roots look like in real life and what you can do with them.

What Are Aerial Roots?

Let’s get the basic stuff out of the way.

Aerial roots are roots that grow above the ground, that’s pretty much as simple as it gets. There are several types of aerial roots; some are used for propagation like in spider plants and others are parasitic – but why do anthuriums have aerial roots?

Why Do Anthuriums Have Aerial Roots?

Anthuriums are epiphytes (air plants), which means they grow naturally on other plants and surfaces for physical support. Aerial roots, also called epiphytic roots, are used to find and attach to such surfaces to provide structure and support.

These aerial roots on anthuriums are also used for absorbing moisture and nutrients from the air, which is one of the reasons why your soil mix for an anthurium should be well-draining and contain lots of small pockets of air.

What Does This Mean For The Soil?

Epiphytic plants need soil that drains well and has plenty of small pockets of air, and this is no different for an anthurium.

Orchid soil mix is a great starting point for a potting mix for anthuriums, as 70% of orchids are epiphytes. You’ll need to check the label to make sure that the soil is suited for epiphytes, and from there I like to add equal parts of peat, pine bark and perlite.

I also personally opt for a layer of sphagnum moss on top of my soil to keep the humidity relatively high, but this is optional.

Are Aerial Roots Bad?

Aerial roots on anthuriums aren’t bad at all, it’s just that in a houseplant setting they don’t serve as much function as they would in the wild.

They are still able to absorb some nutrients and moisture from the air, which is crucial for the soil composition, but this is still less than what is absorbed from the soil itself.

Should You Remove Aerial Roots From An Anthurium?

I would recommend leaving the aerial roots alone.

Although they aren’t primarily serving the same function as they would in their natural habitat, the roots can still absorb moisture from the air which is beneficial for the plant. Removing healthy parts of a plant is not a great idea in the long run.

A flowering anthurium plant with lots of aerial roots
My anthurium of 4 years growing plenty of aerial roots!

Can You Propagate An Anthurium From An Aerial Root?

Anthuriums can’t be propagated directly from aerial roots, but you can use cuttings that contain aerial roots for propagation, and this can be beneficial.

The easiest way to think about this is to consider something like a spider plant, which produces plantlets (also known as spiderettes) which are super easy to propagate. The aerial roots on an anthurium are not ideal for propagation as you need to take a cutting from the stem below a node that contains a few leaves.

The cutting will then develop its own root system as it is transplanted into a new container. Aerial roots don’t contain the necessary nodes that are needed for propagation.

Do Other Houseplants Have Aerial Roots?

There are plenty of other houseplants that grow aerial roots. I’ve already mentioned spider plants quite a few times, as they produce probably the most recognizable type of aerial root.

Most orchids will produce aerial roots as well which look very similar to those produced by anthuriums.

Another super popular houseplant that produces aerial roots is the monster, and these are some of the largest aerial roots of all.