How to Make Your Houseplant Happy: Moss Poles

Learn how to make a moss pole to support your plant's natural desire to climb

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Did you know that a number of common house plants are what we call epiphytic? That means in the wild they grow up trees in search of light and nutrients. One thing you learn working in a greenhouse is that the more you can replicate a plant's natural environment, the happier it will be. While you can’t exactly grow a tree in your house for your plant to grow up, a more feasible option is to use something like a moss pole to support your plant's natural desire to climb. Your plant will thank you with fast growth and massive leaves!


Plants like Pothos, Monstera deliciosa, Monstera adansonii, and trailing and bunching Philodendron and Hoyas are just a few that fall into this category. If any of you have ever seen a Monstera deliciosa or Pothos in the wild, you probably remarked on how giant the leaves were. When an epiphytic plant is allowed to climb it will reward you with giant leaves (see the Monstera adansonii totem pictured above and this giant Golden Pothos below)! All the house plant lovers out there know it can be a struggle to watch your once beautiful plants get leggy with small leaves - try switching your trailing pots or hanging baskets out with a climbing/upward support instead.


A Golden Pothos at Biltmore Estate that developed giant leaves because it was allowed to climb.

The best way to support your plant is by giving it a moss pole to climb. That is because when plants grow up something they put out aerial roots that attach to what they're climbing - both for support and to seek out water and nutrients (and as the plants climb and find more of what they need, their leaves then grow bigger). Sphagnum moss holds moisture well and provides something for them to grip onto, so we love moss poles for this purpose!


HOW TO MAKE A MOSS POLE


Pictured above: wet sphagnum moss, zip ties, clippers (or scissors), stake, hardware netting

What you need:

  • Sphagnum moss

  • Hardware netting (like this)

  • small zip ties

  • scissors

  • a stake for the center (optional)

  • floral pins, plant velcro, or some other way to attach your plant to the pole


Directions

  1. Moisten your sphagnum moss per instructions on package.

  2. Cut the netting to desired size - two to three inches in diameter is generally good and the height is up to you. You can easily add more height as your plant grows (once your plant is attached to the moss pole you won't want to remove it so make sure you give it enough room to grow).

  3. Add a layer of sphagnum moss to the center of the netting. If using a stake for extra support cut it to fit (leaving a couple inches out at the end) and place in center of the netting on top of moss. Cover the stake and fill in the remaining space with moss.

  4. Grab your zip ties and start connecting the two sides of the netting. We find you sometimes have to add or adjust the moss as you go so it's best to start from one end and work your way up. We also like to overlap the two edges of the netting at least one square.

  5. Zip tie the length of your pole every couple of inches. Cut off the excess.

  6. Add it to your planter (exposed end of stake sticking down into the soil), wrap your plant around the pole and gently tie it on if needed (we use stretchable plant tie tape), then watch your plant take off!