In short, yes, you can cut the orchid aerial roots. But it not always advisable. Your orchid’s last line of self-preservation are the aerial roots. The condition of the roots in the pot are important before considering cutting the air roots.
The first step is to get your orchid pot clean. You want to make sure the pot has holes in it for drainage. Also, be sure it has a good suitable medium. You should use clay or plastic instead of stone. This will help keep your plant moist and prevent root rot.
The next step is to see how many roots your orchid has. There are two kinds of roots: aerial and terrestrial. The aerial ones are probably the healthiest ones. They absorb water from the air and help your orchid to grow. They can also be quite attractive, depending on the plant.
If the terrestrial ones have been overwatered, they can be trimmed off. You can remove them by applying a firm tug or with pruning shears. The outer skin will usually peel off, leaving a brown thread root.
The velamen is a sponge-like tissue that helps your orchid absorb water in the wild. It also is the main reason your orchid has a pseudobulb. It acts like a sponge to absorb moisture and nutrients from the air.
Can I Trim Orchid Roots
During the propagation process, orchids are vulnerable to fungal infections. To avoid infections, it’s recommended to spray a fungicide weekly. Then, keep your orchid in a humid environment, avoid direct sunlight, and keep it away from excessive heat.
When trimming orchid roots, you can use sharp scissors, razor blades, or even sharp knives. Make sure to use sterilized tools. You can sanitize them with rubbing alcohol or a bleach solution. Then, cut off the roots near the base of the plant.
My suggestion is that you use thin tweezers with pointed ends to remove pieces of bark or potting soil from the roots. Another tip is to use plastic twist ties to keep the roots in place.
When you trim your orchid’s roots, make sure to leave enough room for new roots to grow. This is important because when the roots get overcrowded, they will push the orchid out of its pot. Then, you’ll have to repot the orchid.
In the wild, orchids will lose their aerial roots regularly. This means that you should not cut off your aerial roots unless you notice signs of damage.
A healthy orchid can survive without aerial roots, but cutting off these roots can be harmful to your plant. If you cut off aerial roots, your plant will not be able to absorb water and nutrients. This can potentially introduce disease.
You should consider removing your orchid’s aerial roots if you see signs of stem rot. This occurs when water gets trapped between the leaves. That’s why it’s critical that you don’t accidentally spray water in between the leaves when watering.
TIP: Read Step-by-step guide to Orchid Root Health.