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Moss poles are one of those many, many things in plant care that non-plant people will never have even considered (like thrips, or washing a leaf with mayonnaise).
Unless I was just blissfully ignoring all the moss poles in my life prior to that point.
I’m actually trying to move away from using moss poles.
I’m going to write an article after this one about the alternatives to moss poles, but I personally like a regular plank of wood.
Moss poles are just a bit too needy for me (I can’t even be arsed to mist an actual plant, never mind the chunk of dead plant it’s leaning on).
What is a moss pole?
A moss pole is an, er, pole covered in moss.
It’s basically a support for a plant. When I first got into plants I called these:
moss poles. They’re not, though that’s usually what we call them.
They’re poles, yes, and you do use them to prop up plants, but they’re not ideal because keeping them damp whilst not also moistening everything in the immediate (and wider) vicinity is basically impossible.
Do I need a moss pole?
Not specifically. They’re just a useful piece of equipment that can help you keep your plants upright.
Your plants won’t really care about a pole. They’ll crawl along the floor if they have to. But if you have large plants that look unruly or accidentally attach themselves to your walls and damage your paintwork then you might want to consider something to keep your plant contained.
In an ideal world, your plant (depending on what it is) would attach to its support using its aerial roots, like it would in the wild.
Plants can attach to coir poles, but it’s extremely difficult to get them to do so, and one dry day can cause them to detach. It’s a little easier with moss poles, but not very easy. Moss isn’t particularly stable, and the plants need to be convinced that it’s a worthy thing for them to attach to.
What I’m trying to say here, is that aerial roots attaching isn’t really anything to strive for. It’s a pain in the arse. If you have a bamboo cane that could work as a plant support (or, ideally, three in a tripod) use that.
Homemade moss poles (as opposed to coir poles) are a little pricier BUT tend to work out cheaper than bought moss poles (bought coir poles are pretty cheap, especially if you get them from garden centres).
How to add a moss pole to a plant
I also quite like to remove the plant from the soil/pot, tie it to the pole, and then plant them up together.
There is no correct way. Just move the plant and pot around until you like the way it looks.
I don’t worry too much about damaging the roots by just shoving a moss pole in, because in my mind, if a plant’s big enough to need a moss pole, it’s big enough to be able to afford to lose a few roots.
Everything you need to make a moss pole
- Some sort of pipe
PVC is easily available (you can get it from Amazon), and probs cheapest from a local DIY shop like B&Q or Home Depot
I don’t use sphagnum moss (as I said, I use planks of wood instead) because of environmental concerns. You can definitely use coir, if you can find the long, stringy stuff (I can’t find anywhere that does it local to me). You can buy synthetic moss (I’ve not tried it, but I’ve seen positive reviews), or try to find New Zealand sphagnum, which is apparently harvested sustainably.
Fishing line is a great choice, because it’s clean and doesn’t degrade when it gets wet.
How to make a moss pole
- Wrap pole in moss
- Use fishing line to tie moss in place.
It is NOT EASY.
Watch this video from minimalistcali, as it really helps demonstrate how to do it.
It’s an art. You have to wrap as you go and negotiate the string whilst holding the moss in place. It’s a skill that’s extremely frustrating to learn. Unless I’m just an uncoordinated noob, which is almost certainly the case.
Hence using planks of wood.
Don’t attempt to make the string look pretty like it does on the coir pole. You’ll drive yourself mad. Just aim to get the moss to stay on. You can always try again.