In this post we are going to talk about the roots of your cactus or succulent plant. Of course you look all day at the part of your plant that is above the earth. But the roots are also very important to check every now and then.
How Often Do We Recommend Doing A Root Check?
The roots are a very important part of your cactus or succulent plant. This allows your plant to absorb nutrients and moisture from the soil. It is therefore important that you check this every now and then. The roots can also give you a good indication of whether your cactus or succulent plant needs to be repotted. More about this in our repot post.
We recommend checking the roots twice a year for healthy cacti and succulents. 1x in the spring and 1x in the autumn.
Why? In the spring, your cactus or succulent plant will start to grow again and you will water the plant more often. Then it is good to know whether the roots are healthy and can absorb the water. Otherwise, your plant may remain in the wet soil for too long and root rot may develop.
In the autumn, your cactus or succulent plant stops growing and it is nice to know whether the plant is entering the rest period with a healthy root system. If this is not the case, you know that you have to keep an extra eye on the plant.
Do you have plants that don’t start growing in the spring? Then it is also useful to view the roots. Of course, it doesn’t have to be the reason that growth is lagging, but it’s nice that you can cross that off your list.
How Do I Recognize Healthy Carrots?
A healthy root system often grows throughout the entire pot and has many root hairs along the side roots. With succulent plant species such as: Aloe and Haworthia species you often see the yellow growing points (if the roots are healthy).
Because the bottom of the root ball often contains the most moisture, you want the roots of your cactus to take root well. When the root ball partly has good roots, you can stimulate root growth to the bottom of the pot, by letting the bottom 3-4cm of the root ball become moist. Roots often grow towards the moisture and will also reach the bottom of the root ball.
How To Recognize Unhealthy Roots?
Unhealthy roots are often dark brown in color, porous when you rub them and do not show new root tips and root hairs.
What To Do With Unhealthy Roots?
What we recommend with a root system is: Remove the plant from the pot and remove all dead parts of the roots. This is of no use to the plant and these roots can contain fungi, causing even more parts of the root to die. You can also remove the soil that surrounds the healthy roots. The plant can then be repotted in new soil.
In this case, too, we recommend moistening only the bottom 3-4cm of the root ball. This encourages root growth to return to the bottom of the pot. If you place the cactus or succulent plant with the bottom of the pot in a bowl of water, you can easily moisten the lower part of the root ball.
Hopefully this has given you a good idea of what healthy roots should look like on your cactus or succulent plant. But also what you can do to promote root growth.