Moss poles are one of the best ways plant owners can encourage plants to grow upwards instead of outwards (or downwards). It’s a good idea for a pothos plant, a swiss cheese plant, most philodendrons, or any other houseplant that climbs. We’ll look at how you can utilize a moss pole for your houseplants, where to buy one, moss pole alternatives, how to make one, and then some basic care info for climbing plants.
This complete guide will have you feeling secure in your knowledge of the proper moss pole growing techniques.
Here are the basics we’ll cover:
- What Is A Moss Pole
- Why Do You Need One?
- Where Can You Buy A Moss Pole?
- Types Of Plants That Work Well With Moss Poles
- Benefits Of Using A Moss Pole
- How To Make Your Own Moss Pole
- Moss Pole Vs. Trellis
- General Care For Climbing Plants
What Is A Moss Pole?
The moss pole goes by many names – moss stick, bamboo stakes, plant supports, climbing pole, moss totem, etc. lt’s an object standing vertically with moss or a natural coco coir fiber covering it. The purpose of a moss pole is to emulate the natural growing environment of a climbing vine and provide it with micronutrients and water via aerial roots.
Essentially, the moss pole acts as a fake tree for your plants to cling to and is an excellent option for a wide variety of houseplant favorites, including Monstera deliciosa and many pothos options. The moss pole creates a tremendous aesthetic and provides your plants with support and nutrients.
Why Do You Need A Moss Pole For Your Houseplants?
Many vining houseplants are epiphytes, a plant that grows on top of another plant (usually a tree). In the tropics, these plants grow on tree trunks toward the top of the forest canopy.
A moss pole’s purpose is to simulate a plant’s native habitat by providing an anchor point that the plant adheres to – as it would with a tree host in the wild. This is the next best thing to giving plants with long vines a natural environment.
Nutrients And Water
For vines that can develop adventitious roots, the moss pole offers moisture and (some) micronutrients either via sphagnum moss or coir fiber. While these growing mediums won’t be as effective as actual moss on a tree in the tropics, they are far better for the plant than a traditional pot or container.
Moss poles promote mature foliage by allowing your plant to sense the pole’s support, which creates larger leaves as it climbs. Specifically for the Monstera deliciosa, larger leaves mean more of those classic fenestrations (leaf holes or gaps) develop.
A moss pole is especially great for a heavier plant, as it provides support, makes them more robust, and gives them a better environment to thrive.
As a bonus, a pothos moss pole also gives your indoor plants a vertical look. A lot of indoor growers use moss poles for the aesthetic. Having a plant grow upward helps you make use of small spaces – and it gives you the freedom to shape your plant however you feel.
Personally, I like how it adds size variation to the houseplants in a space. Some plants can be short and cascade, while the indoor climbing plants stand out beautifully. It’s an effective method if you’re trying to make a visual skyline with your plant babies.
Where Can I Buy A Pothos Moss Pole?
While moss poles used to be more of a specialty item, they’re becoming more popular and common. The pandemic turned many of us into indoor gardeners, so demand for the pothos moss pole has grown.
Still, though, a traditional moss pole may not be available at your local garden center. It’s easiest to purchase a simple option online. These moss totems are relatively inexpensive, ranging from $10-30, depending on the size and quantity.
When deciding what to purchase, the “best moss pole” really comes down to preference. It’s most common for a climbing pole to have inner support – often a PVC pipe or wooden slab – surrounded by a sturdy bamboo and then covered in coir fiber or sphagnum peat moss.
Should You Buy A Moss Pole?
From my perspective, buying a moss pole is the better option most of the time. But, if you want to create an authentic piece of art with your pole, there are some beautiful DIY examples online. So it depends on your goal. If you’re interested in an option that gives you plant shape – but you don’t need it to be a masterpiece – I would go with an affordable option from Amazon.
If you want to see some particularly beautiful moss poles, check out these options on Instagram:
How To Use A Moss Pole
Using a moss stick is incredibly simple. Take your purchased stake and press it firmly in the soil of a pot. Place it slightly away from the stem of the plant as not to affect the roots too much. The moss pole should be sturdy at this point.
Once in place, you can adhere your plant to the pole with almost anything. Here are some basic options for anchoring your plant:
- Fishing line
- Twist ties
- Plant ties
Typically, a grower circles the moss pole with the vines of the plant. This is more of an aesthetic choice, and you can really shape the plant however you see fit.
You want to add your supports every 3-5 inches or so. In most cases, this is temporary, as the aerial roots will begin clinging to your moss pole within a few weeks. This is part of the training process for your plants.
You’ll need to keep tying your plant to the moss pole as it grows. Continue directing the plant along the moss pole for as long as you choose. Your houseplant will eventually learn to grow against the moss pole on its own, particularly if it has air roots.
To grow with a pre-purchased moss pole, you really only need four things:
- Your moss pole
- An adherent (velcro strips, twist ties, string, etc.)
- Your climbing plant of choice
How To Water Your Moss Pole
One of the key benefits of the moss stick is how the moss or coco coir (made from coconut fiber) retains moisture. This aids your plants in a few ways – first, it gives them access to water when they need it via their aerial roots.
The more significant factor here is that you are also getting humidity from the pole, which substantially benefits these tropical plants.
When watering your moss pole, start by following the directions included with your packaging. If you don’t have them or if you made your own moss, you can simply water the top of the pole using a watering can. Continue doing this until the water drips into the pot below.
In the summertime, you probably want to water twice a week. In other seasons, once a week should be fine – but adjust if you see a negative response from your plants.
How Long Should A Moss Pole Be?
The length of the moss pole depends on a few factors: the type of plant, the weight of the plant, and the size at which you want your plant to grow. Smaller and daintier plants – like most philodendron varieties – could make do with a shorter and thinner moss pole – a few feet is fine. While a heavier plant like a Monstera deliciosa with large leaves may need a longer and thicker option.
That said, much of this comes down to how you want your plant to look. Shorter will make the plant appear bushier, while longer will give it a leaner and vinier look.
Types of Plants That Work Well On A Moss Pole
A few genera do well with a moss pole: Philodendron, Pothos, and Monstera.
Here are some of the most loved houseplants that fall under these genera.
Philodendron Moss Pole (Araceae)
Philodendrons of all types produce aerial roots, making them perfect for a moss pole. These roots emerge from the plant’s stems above the soil and are intended to aid in its stability as it develops up trees or along the forest floor.
- Here are some of our favorite philodendrons
- Philodendron Birkin
- Philodendron hederaceum (heartleaf; sweetheart)
- Philodendron Hastatum
- Philodendron Brasil
- Philodendron Moonlight
- Philodendron Rugosum
Pothos Moss Pole (Arums)
Plants in the pothos genus use their aerial roots to anchor onto trees, aerate the plant, and hydrate themselves. With their beautiful draping vines and ability to climb, they are the perfect option for a moss pole.
Check out some of these Pothos options for your home!
- Neon Pothos
- Marble Queen Pothos
- Golden Pothos (money plant; devil’s ivy)
- Silver Pothos (satin pothos)
- Manjula Pothos
- Jessenia Pothos
Does Pothos Need A Moss Pole?
While the genus pothos doesn’t need a moss pole, having one can help support it, access to water, and larger leaves. Without a moss totem, these vining plants will cascade horizontally and have slightly smaller leaves. Neither option is superior and depends more on personal aesthetic.
How Do You Attach A Pothos To A Moss Pole?
As with other vining plants, start by inserting the pole into the soil a few inches at least three inches away from the stem to protect the most significant roots. Gently wrap your pothos vines around and up the moss pole, attaching them with plant ties as you go.
Monstera Moss Pole (Arums)
If there was ever a reason to use a moss pole, it’s for a Monstera plant. These beautiful monsters can struggle to hold up their leaves. The use of a moss pole not only strengthens the plants and their leaves; it also forms well into the Monstera, making it look like the plant has a thicker stem. The contrast between brown and green is beautiful and enhances the tropical look.
Here are some of our favorite Monstera options:
- Monstera deliciosa
- Monstera variegata
- Monstera adansonii
- Monstera borsigiana
Interested in learning more about Monstera? Read our guide on ways to propagate Monstera deliciosa today!
How To Make A Moss Pole
While most traditional moss poles are pretty affordable online, a high-quality one is hard to come by – and often expensive. If you choose to make your own moss pole, there are a few different options with various cost requirements. Let’s start with the most affordable options and discuss materials.
PVC Piping (or another base) Covered In Chicken Wire
While it may not be the most attractive option, using a PCV pipe as your base is an affordable moss pole base that can give you the size you need for any vining houseplant.
Cut Your PVC Pipe Or Other Base Material
The first thing you’ll do is cut the PVC piping to a size that makes sense for your plant. Read our section above on some considerations.
We should note that PVC pipe is just one base you can use for a moss pole. Other perfect alternatives include a wooden slab, wooden logs, or a wooden stake. It just needs to be sturdy and can provide your plants with extra support.
One benefit to using a wooden slab or thick branch is that the ends can be whittled down like a spear. This makes them easier than PCV piping to push into the ground.
Soak your sphagnum moss or sheet moss in water for a minute. The amount of moss you need is really dependent on the size of the pole you’re using. You can always soak more moss later, so just start with a small amount.
Cover The Base In Moss
Cover your PVC pipe or wooden slab with the moistened moss. You want about a ½” to 1” layer of sphagnum moss here. More moss than that becomes unmanageable and can potentially make it difficult for plants to adhere well to the base.
Cover The Moss In Chicken Wire
I recommend wearing gloves for this part. Chicken wire has a way of stabbing you when you least expect it. Since the chicken wire is already in a roll, it will naturally wrap around the moss pole. Make sure you use enough chicken wire to circumvent the base and the moss entirely.
You’ll need to cut the chicken wire with wire cutters for best results.
The purpose of this step is to keep the moss in place
Secure The Chicken Wire
You can use various materials to secure the chicken wire, including a wire twist, velcro strips, general wire, plant ties, twist ties, fishing line, etc.
The key with this step is to hide the ties as best as possible. You don’t want to distract from the finished product that is your moss pole.
And there you have it! You now have your very own DIY moss pole!
Metal Hardware Cloth Moss Pole
If you’re trying to make a higher-end DIY moss pole that looks better and lasts longer, you can use thicker hardware cloth. This will give your plants the security they need and keep the material from rusting in moist conditions.
With this option, the hardware cloth acts as both the base and as a material that secures the moss.
In terms of thickness, you need a material that’s at least ½” thick.
Here are the steps to using this hardware cloth.
Cut Your Hardware Mesh
You likely want a hardware mesh that’s a least two feet tall for smaller plants – and up to five feet or more for larger plants (or plants that are aspiring to be larger!).
In terms of diameter, eight inches across or more should give you the sturdiness you need.
Cut the hardware mesh using wire cutters or scissors.
Soak Your Moss
Soak your sphagnum or sheet moss for a minute in water. The amount of moss you’ll need is largely determined by the diameter of the pole you’re working with. Start with a bit of moss and add more later if necessary.
Add Moss Inside Your Hardware Mesh
Fill your hardware mesh with the sphagnum moss. The moss should fit firmly inside the mesh, so you’ll need to add quite a bit. The firmness helps future proof your moss pole, as the sphagnum moss will deteriorate over time and become looser.
You shouldn’t pack the moss so tightly that it feels like a solid mass, though. You’re going for a snug feel that’s slightly pressing through the squares of the hardware mesh.
Secure The Hardware Mesh
Using almost any strong metal tie, you must now secure the two ends of the hardware mesh, making it a proper cylinder.
To secure the mesh, use wire twist ties or other thin metal wire. Protect your hands with gloves during this section – and make sure the ends of the metal wire are facing in toward the moss pole (so you don’t prick your fingers later).
Place Your Moss Pole
From here, you’re ready to place your moss pole in the pot with your houseplant. This handmade stackable sphagnum moss pole is probably easier to construct than the more affordable option above, but its materials are considerably more expensive.
While a cheaper chicken wire and PVC pipe pole will only set you back $20 or so, buying this hardware mesh alone could be $60+. That said, you can usually find a roll with 25 feet or more for this price, meaning you could make several moss totems for your home – or friends!
Trellis Vs. Moss Pole
You may be wondering at this point if you can just use a trellis for your climbing plants. And you absolutely can. That said, most Monsteras, Philodendrons, Pothos prefer moss poles because their aerial roots can adhere to them in the same way that they would to a mossy tree in the wild.
Moss poles keep a sprawling plant focused on upward growth.
That said, a trellis can also be attractive in and of itself, encouraging the plant to grow in a new shape if desired.
Care Tips For Moss Stick-Loving Plants
These moss totems are beautiful accessories for your plants that can support growth and leaf development, all while creating a beautiful vertical aesthetic. That said, you still need to be able to care for these plants. Here are some quick plant care guide tips for three popular houseplants.
How To Care For Pothos On A Moss Pole
Pothos is a hardy indoor foliage plant from French Polynesia and Southeast Asia that belongs to the arum family (Araceae family). This beautiful plant resembles the common philodendron and is sometimes confused with it.
We have a few blog posts about pothos care that you should check out, as well:
Some Basic Pothos Care Tips
- Care Level: Easy
- Light Requirements: Bright indirect sun – avoid direct light, which can discolor the foliage
- Growth Rate: The speed depends on the specific variety – but the growing season is spring to fall
- Water requirements: The top inch of soil should be dry between waterings. Too much watering causes root rot.
- Humidity Level: 50-70%
- Plant Pot: The pot should be around 2” wider than the root ball. It needs to include at least one drainage hole.
- Fertilizer: A liquid houseplant fertilizer every 1-3 months – but more like every month during the growing season.
How To Care For Philodendron On A Moss Pole
Philodendron is a genus of over 450 species of stout-stemmed climbing plants native to tropical America. Like Pothos, it belongs to the Araceae family.
Young philodendrons are attractive potted plants for homes and offices since they are accustomed to the low light levels of rainforests.
Some Basic Philodendron Care Tips
- Care Level: Easy to Moderate
- Light Requirements: Like philodendron, tolerate low light but prefer medium to bright indirect light conditions. Direct sunlight could burn their leaves.
- Growth Rate: Moderate to fast (1-2 feet per year)
- Water requirements: The top 50% of soil should be dry between waterings. Proper soil drainage will also help protect this plant from root rot.
- Humidity Level: Prefers 60-80% – but can survive with less in many situations
- Plant Pot: The pot should be about 2” wider than the root ball. If your pot is too large, the monstera’s growth could slow.
- Fertilizer: Feed your Monstera once a month between spring and summer with a liquid houseplant fertilizer. There’s no need to feed them at all during the winter months.
How To Care For Monstera On A Moss Pole
Monstera is a genus of tropical evergreen vines natively found in Central America. They’re known for their natural leaf fenestrations, which is why people often call them the swiss-cheese plants.
These leaf holes are thought to enhance sun capture on the forest floor (where sunlight is sparse) by expanding the leaf’s spread while minimizing the bulk of leaf cells.
Some Basic Monstera Care Tips
- Care Level: Easy
- Light Requirements: Tolerate low light conditions but prefer medium to bright indirect light. An artificial light source works well for philodendron.
- Growth Rate: Moderate to fast
- Water requirements: The top inch of soil should be dry between waterings. Too much watering causes root rot.
- Humidity Level: 70-90%
- Plant Pot: The pot should be around 2” wider than the root ball. It needs to include at least one drainage hole. Yellow leaves could indicate that your pot is too small.
- Fertilizer: Between spring and fall, fertilize these plants monthly with a liquid houseplant fertilizer
Moss totems are the perfect solution for indoor vining plants, and they make a great DIY project. They make them grow stronger, simulate their natural habitat, develop larger leaves, and create an aesthetic that most growers love. Have you recently grown houseplants using a moss stick? We would love to see it. Send any pictures you have two Devri@twopeasinacondo.com, and we might highlight them in this article!