The Hidden Reason You See Your Pothos Roots Above Soil (This Could Save Its Life!)

Pothos, a popular houseplant known for its hardiness and lush foliage, possesses a fascinating root system comprised of two distinct types: aerial and terrestrial (regular) roots.

Aerial roots grow above the soil, allowing the plant to climb and absorb moisture from the air.

In contrast, regular roots are typically found beneath the soil’s surface, anchoring the plant and absorbing water and nutrients. However, it’s not uncommon to see regular roots emerging above the soil, a sign that often piques the curiosity of plant enthusiasts.

Understanding why pothos plants sometimes grow regular roots above the soil can shed light on their care requirements and overall health. It’s normal for pothos plants to exhibit this growth pattern under certain conditions but for you as a houseplant owner, it means it’s time to act.

By exploring the reasons behind this phenomenon, I hope to help you become more confident in your ability to nurture these resilient plants and appreciate the unique ways they grow and adapt to their environment.

Key Takeaways

  • Pothos plants have aerial and terrestrial roots, with the latter typically staying beneath the soil.
  • Regular pothos roots can emerge above soil for various reasons, which is a normal behavior but a warning sign for you.
  • Recognizing why regular roots grow above soil can give you hint about pothos care.

Two Types of Pothos Roots

Pothos plants are equipped with two distinct types of roots: aerial and terrestrial. Let’s explore these fascinating root structures and understand their roles.

Aerial Roots

Ariel roots located on a stem of a pothos plant
Ariel roots located on a stem of a pothos plant
  • Appear above soil along the stem
  • Essential for climbing and supporting the plant
  • Can absorb moisture and nutrients from the air

I find these roots particularly interesting because they showcase the plant’s adaptability. My pothos’ aerial roots cling to surfaces, helping the plant to trail or climb, which is perfect for adding greenery to my indoor space.

Terrestrial Roots

Clear plastic cup with a pothos plant growing new roots
Clear plastic cup with a pothos plant growing new roots
  • Normally found in soil
  • Primary function includes water and nutrient absorption
  • Store energy for the plant
  • Can sometimes emerge above soil if overcrowded or looking for new soil

Terrestrial roots are the workhorses, anchoring the plant and navigating through the soil to find the necessary sustenance. It’s not unusual for some of these roots to peek out above the soil, especially if the plant is in a tight spot or it hasn’t been repotted it in a while.

Why Can Terrestrial Pothos Roots Grow Above Soil? Is It Normal?

Pothos roots above soil
Pothos roots above soil

Sometimes, you might see the roots of a pothos plant venturing out of the soil and into the air. Here’s a brief exploration into why this happens:

  • Adaptability: In their natural habitat, Pothos are climbing plants that extend aerial roots to anchor to surfaces, obtaining additional support and nutrients. When you spot roots emerging from the soil, it’s an expression of this innate tendency.
  • Root-Bound Signs: Roots peeking over the soil can signal that a Pothos is becoming root-bound. Their pot might be a little too cozy, and they’re seeking new space to expand. It’s like when my shoes are too tight—I need a bigger pair to keep comfortable!
  • Natural Behavior: Is this normal? Absolutely. Pothos have no strict demands when it comes to their root environment. Whether they’re stretching above soil in a pot or climbing a tropical tree, they’re simply following their instinct to thrive and grasp onto life—any way they can.

Still, to keep your leafy buddy happy, ensure it is not packed too tight in their pot. Give the roots a little more room and maybe a trellis or pole to mimic their natural climbing habit. A dash of indirect sunlight and regular hydration will let your Pothos flourish, roots and all.

Remember, Pothos are survivors by nature. If their roots venture out, it’s just them being their resilient selves, adapting to their environment, be it in the wild or your living room.

More About Pothos Roots

As I already mentioned, pothos plants have two types of roots: subterranean roots that grow beneath the soil and aerial roots extending above the ground.

While subterranean root system absorbs water and nutrients from the soil, the aerial roots absorb it from the air, help the plant climb, and they also help with propagation.

To propagate pothos, I use cuttings from a stem that includes at least one node. The node is where the aerial roots and leaves emerge, vital for the cutting to develop roots when placed in water or soil. Read more about pothos propagation in my post.

To keep the subterranean roots healthy, make sure the soil is well-draining to prevent root rot and water only when the soil is dry. Also, repot your plant regularly and especially when the roots stat escaping. A plant that has outgrown its pot will eventually die due to a lack of nutrients.


Pothos roots above soil
Pothos roots above soil

Pothos plants showcase remarkable adaptability through their two root types:

  • Aerial roots: Climb and absorb moisture from the air, adding a touch of greenery anywhere.
  • Terrestrial roots: Anchor the plant and absorb water/nutrients from the soil. They might emerge above soil due to natural climbing instincts, root-bound conditions, or seeking new space.

Remember, happy Pothos thrive with good drainage, adequate pot space, and indirect sunlight. Their root ventures are just them being their resilient, adaptable selves! Help them to grow more by increasing their pot home!


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