How to Make a Moss Pole to Support Your Vining Plants
By Hannah Twietmeyer
If your tropical houseplant is looking a little overgrown — even after a trim — it may be time to add a moss pole to its pot. Plants that grow large and lush make for eye-catching decor but can turn into eyesores quickly if they’re weighed down by heavy leaves and branches. If this is a look you’re familiar with, your plant might need a little extra support every now and then, and a moss pole can do just that.
By following this guide, you’ll not only learn how to make a moss pole but what exactly a moss pole is used for along with some plants that grow around these supports fairly well.
Photo via Anna Bannister
What Is a Moss Pole Used For?
Moss poles function similarly to support pillars; they keep your plant propped up. Plants droop, sag or grow in unruly directions for a few reasons (which we’ll dive into below), and a moss pole helps shape stray branches and vines and keeps them growing in a more orderly fashion.
Here’s how it works: A moss pole, often made from a sturdy PVC pipe covered in sphagnum moss, is meant to mimic a plant’s natural growing environment and serve as a structure for stems, branches, and roots to latch on to. Large plants with wayward vines can be fastened to the pole and be trained to grow upward instead of outward, and the layer of moss provides a setting similar to the trees plants would cling to and climb on in their native tropical environments.
Photo via Sarinasala1
Plants that Grow Well on Moss Poles
While they do wonders for disorderly branches, moss poles don’t need to be used for plants like aloe vera or sansevieria that often grow upright and sturdy with thick leaves. Instead, moss poles are best suited for vining, tropical plants that cling to their surroundings. Here are a few of those plants:
The pothos is a houseplant favorite, with its long, spilling branches and bright leaves. It’s relatively low maintenance, too, perfect for the novice plant parent.
Climbing versions of the philodendron plant are often planted with poles because they will climb up any nearby surface. Leaf and overall plant size vary by the type of philodendron you plant or purchase, but you might want to reserve some growing space for them — they can get pretty large.
Monsteras are large, lush, tropical plants, similar in size and shape to a philodendron but with split leaves. They appreciate a little humidity and benefit from some extra support from moss poles due to their large leaves and vining branches that often get weighed down.
The vining plants listed above tend to grow quite large if they are left untrimmed, so weight plays a critical role in whether or not a moss pole is needed for support. However, weight is not the only thing to consider. Light source is equally as important. Tropical vining plants tend to spread and grow in the direction of light, meaning that branches and leaves will reach out instead of up if the light is hitting them from the side. If your lighting comes from above, these plants are more likely to grow upward, but will eventually still get weighed down if they grow large enough.
Photo via David Seymour
How to Make a Moss Pole
Making and installing a moss pole is a relatively inexpensive and simple DIY project. With just a few minutes and some focus, you can create a structure that will help your tropical plant grow lush and tall. We listed everything you need to get started below.
Tools and Materials Needed:
- New plant container
- PVC pipe (length depends on how large your plant is)
- Permanent marker
- Sphagnum moss
- Roll of twine
Step 1: Mark Your PVC Pipe
Place your PVC pipe into or next to the plant pot you’ll be working with (we'll cover this in the next section, but you'll have to repot your plant to install the moss pole and therefore will need a new pot). Use a permanent marker to draw a line on your PVC pipe where the top of the pot reaches when you stand the pipe up next to it. This marking is where you’ll start rolling your moss; the area underneath the mark is where the pipe will be submerged in potting soil.
Step 2: Soak Your Moss
To make it more pliable, soak your sphagnum moss in warm water for around 15 minutes, just until everything is wet. Then remove the moss and wring it out.
Step 3: Tie Moss to the Pole
Tie the twine tightly around the very top of your PVC pipe (don’t cut it, though, it should still be attached to the spool). Slip on your gloves to keep your hands clean and start applying the damp moss to your PVC pipe. Press the sphagnum moss down in flattened clumps around sections of the PVC pipe, working from the top down.
After applying each section, secure the moss down by wrapping a tight coil of twine around the moss on the pole. Repeat the process all the way down to the mark you made with the marker earlier. Tie the twine in a tight knot and cut it from the spool. When finished, your layer of moss should be anywhere from half an inch to a full inch thick.
How to Install a Moss Pole
Now that your moss pole is complete, it’s ready to do its job. To stake your moss pole in with your plant, you’ll have to do some repotting. Make sure you have the following supplies on hand.
Tools and Materials Needed:
- Plant pot
- Potting soil
- Moss pole
- Plant that you’re staking to moss pole
- Gardening gloves
- Twist ties
Step 1: Prep Pot with Soil
Grab your new pot and pack a layer of potting soil a few inches deep on the bottom.
Step 2: Stake Your Moss Pole
With the bottom of your new pot prepped with soil, you can go ahead and stick the uncovered bottom of your moss pole into the pot. It’s best to not anchor the exposed PVC pipe in the center of the pot, since that is likely where your plant’s stalk will be; somewhere off-centered works perfectly fine. Once you’ve chosen a spot to stake your moss pole, add another inch or two of potting soil so that the PVC pipe is able to stand upright on its own.
Step 3: Repot Your Plant
Slip on your gardening gloves and gently uproot your plant from its pot. Situate it carefully on top of the soil in the new pot, nestled closely to the moss pole. Also make a point to check that any aerial roots are pointed toward the moss pole — this will give them some direction on where to climb (per Plant Brittanica).
Add potting soil to the pot with your hands or a garden spade to the pot, filling in any open spaces and packing things in to keep both the plant and the pole sturdy. Fill up to the point on the pole where the moss starts on the PVC pipe.
Step 4: Secure Branches
Even with the moss pole rooted in close proximity to the stalk of your plant, the branches and leaves will need some guidance on where to grow. To help them out, use a soft twist tie or two to secure stray foliage to the pole and keep everything upright. Make sure to do so gently; if you tie things too tight, you risk damaging your plant.
More Tips for Your DIY Moss Pole
Although some twist ties and a moss pole will get your plant growing in the right direction, the DIY device isn’t completely self-sufficient. Check out these tips below to care for your moss pole properly.
Opt for a Taller Moss Pole
If the moss pole you crafted seems too tall for your plant, don’t worry. Your plant is going to grow, so if the pole seems oversized now, it probably won’t in a few months with proper plant care.
Reposition Twist Ties
Even with a few twist ties in place, and with aerial roots facing your moss pole, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re training your plant to grow with the device. This means you’ll need to reposition twist ties as needed to keep your plant firmly anchored and growing how you want it to.
Water the Moss Pole
Every time you go to water your plant, make a mental note to give your moss pole a drink, too. Keeping the moss moist will help hydrate any climbing roots and help create a more humid environment. All you need to do is fill a spray bottle with water and give your moss pole a light spritz every now and then.
Trim Plant When Needed
If your plant ends up outgrowing your moss pole down the road, you don’t need to craft a whole new one. Just grab some pruners and give your overgrown houseplant a trim!
Reposition Your Plant
Remember, if your plant climbs or vines, it will reach towards the source of light you give it. If you want to keep your branches growing upward, it’s best to position the plant so light is directly above the plant and the moss pole.
Interesting concept, right? Have you made a moss pole before? Tell us your feedback in the comments below!
Frequently asked questions
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