Syngonium Love to Climb – Here’s How to Support Them

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Syngoniums are climbers, but they’re often sold as bushy plants to quench our appetite for bushy plants.

They’re also regularly featured in the ‘low light’ section of house plants, and whilst that’s true in that they won’t thank you for putting them in bright, direct light, keeping them in low light will result in leggy growth.

I have a full article on Syngonium care here, but they’re pretty undemanding plants. As they mature they’ll start being more..viney and will benefit from being treated like any other climbing aroid.

Oh, and this article, which has a (hand drawn) map:

Do Syngonium have aerial roots?

They do! Look:

I recently put my Syngonium Mottled on a pole, and it seems to have sprouted these (or at least grown them a bit) in response.

In the wild Syngonium begin life on the rainforest floor, and try to grow towards a tree. When they reach a suitable candidate, they start to grow up it, using their aerial roots to attach secure itself to it’s host.

Syngoniums are hemiepiphytes, which means they have some roots in the ground, especially when they’re young, but as they mature, a larger proportion of their roots are aerial roots. As well as providing support, aerial roots can absorb moisture from the air and the host tree.

Do Syngonium need staking up?

They don’t need to be staked up, but they tend to look better when given a bit of direction.

Syngonium, like other hemiepiphytes, have evolved to climb into the rainforest canopy, and staking them up is the best way to mimic that. When the plant is growing as nature intended, it has a couple of benefits to us

Leaves grow bigger

It’s well documented that when climbing plants that are staked up they grow bigger, more mature leaves.

Even if the amount of light is the same, convincing the plant that it’s growing naturally is enough to lead it grow bigger leaves. That being said, by giving syngoniums ample (indirect) light, can get to grow bigger and faster.

I keep my Syngonium a few feet from a south-facing window, but it’s shielded from a lot of the light by other plants. It’s the closest I’m gonna get to the dappled, diffused light it would get in the rainforest and it seems pretty happy.

The plant is more compact

To make syngoniums grow super compact and bushy you need to make sure they have great light, decent humidity, and are just generally well cared for BUT if you’re new to plant care and you have a few leggy vines that trail everywhere in a very non-aesthetically pleasing way, then staking it up on a pole can be a great way to keep your plant out of the way.

What’s the best moss pole for a Syngonium?

Rather than trying to work out what moss pole is best for the Syngonium, I suggest you work out which moss pole is best for you.

The best moss pole for the Syngonium is one that the aerial roots can grow into.

I have an article about making a moss pole here.

A lot of people have issues with droopy Syngoniums, and having a well-developed aerial root system growing into a moss pole is a great way to increase turgor pressure and keep that plant upright.

However, there are pros and cons to moss poles, and if you don’t maintain it (it’s basically like having another plant) the aerial roots won’t adhere to it.

I’ve recently given my Syngonium a Kratiste moss pole, which is made of recycled potatoes and doesn’t need any maintenance (I don’t think, I’ve only just got it). I have no idea if the roots will attach or not at this point, but I’ll keep you updated!

The traditional coir poles have fallen out of favour a bit because the only way to get the aerial roots to stick to them is to keep them wet, and keeping them wet is nigh on impossible.

If you don’t mind the way they look and you’re happy to tie your plant to the pole, coir poles are a pretty cheap, easy-to-find option.

How to attach a Syngonium to a moss pole

In an ideal world, it’d attach itself. There are a couple of ways you can facilitate this:

1 – Increase the ambient humidity

If your humidity is high (I’m talking 75% and up) then aerial roots can change in form. Rather being somewhat stick-like, they become furry and white, and are pretty happy to stick to anything (except glass, despite the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma in my terrarium’s best efforts).

2 – keep the moss pole damp

A damp moss pole is a very inviting place for an aerial root, and they’re happy to grow into them and set up camp.

I really struggle with keeping moss poles damp (because I’m too lazy to water them). I recommend you make the pole wide enough in diameter that you can set a cup on the top. Drill holes in the bottom of the cup, and top it up weekly. This should keep the moss moist.

Do Syngoniums trail or climb?

Sygoniums climb but you can keep them in hanging pots and allow them to trail.

There often isn’t much difference between climbing and trailing plants – most of the houseplants we keep as trailing plants would prefer to climb, particularly aroids.

If you have awesome light and are happy to go through the furore of getting the planter down to water it, then, by all means, keep your Syngonium as a tailing plant.

However, this isn’t their preferred way to grow, and it can end up looking leggy (i.e. big gaps between leaves) and the leaves can grow a bit sad and spindly.

If you’re growing your Syngonium in a low to medium-light area, then I’d caution against growing it as a trailing plant. It’ll most like just look a bit sparse and sad.

Final thoughts

Syngonium are trailing plants, the house plant industry just…try to make it seem like they’re not.

I have a bit of a soft spot for Syngonium, because:

  • they’re great plants for beginners in terms of durability
  • they droop when they’re thirsty (we love a plant that tells us when to water!)
  • they love a bit of drama – they take longer to stand up after being rehydrated than freaking peace lilies.

Growing them up a moss pole won’t yield fenestrations (that I’m aware off!) or some funky mature leaf shape, but they do grow big and full and…interesting looking. Kind of like a cooler Pothos.

Oh, and they come in pink!

Caroline Cocker

Caroline is the founder and writer (and plant keeper) of Planet Houseplant

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