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Whilst writing the article on how to make a moss pole I realised just how much a pain in the bum they are.
They don’t even look that good.
And whilst they’re not expensive, they’re very much a one-trick pony, and you may have something laid around that will do just as good a job as a fancy moss pole.
The problem with using moss poles
Aerial roots don’t attach to them
Ok, aerial roots CAN attach to them. It’s just not as easy as we’d like.
If you want your plant to attach itself to the pole, you need to make the plant think that the pole two things:
- Stable enough to support the weight of the plant
- A tree
The first one is the most important thing. If the plant thinks your moss pole is another tree, it might attach. But if it KNOWS it’s super stable, it’ll definitely attach.
This is why my plants like to climb my walls.
Moss (and coir) is a substrate – something to grow in, not climb up. If you keep the moss pole moist the aerial roots can attach, but they’ll often detach as soon as the moss pole dries out. This doesn’t happen on, for example, a wall, because the gaps that the roots attach to are microscopic.
They effectively glue themselves to the wall, But the gaps that form in dry moss are comparatively mahoosive, and the aerial roots drop out.
If you see someone online that has a plant with aerial roots attached to a moss pole, chances are they’re either extremely diligent about keeping the pole moist, or they have very high humidity.
Now, this doesn’t really matter. You can tie your plant to the moss pole. But that also means that there isn’t anything special about a moss pole.
You can use anything you want to support your plant.
Hell, make your husband hold it upright.
Put your kids on a plant support rota (jokes, jokes).
Whatever you like.
Alternatives to moss poles
This is my preferred plant support of choice, but I will admit, they’re pretty heavy. I usually have to have them leaning against a wall, which isn’t ideal.
Remember that wood rots, so use finished wood. I obviously haven’t (couldn’t be arsed to varnish the free plants of wood my boyfriend found me at work) but I’ve decided that it would be very useful if I could tell you how long it takes for a plank to rot in soil.
Don’t be like me. When the plank collapses and snaps my plant I’ll regret it.
Because wood is solid, the aerial rots attach to it like a dream (even when it’s finished). I mean, it’s literally what they’re designed to attach to. No need to keep the plank wet either!
I mean, its what they use in the wild!
Plants like yucca and dracaena have tall, bare stems that could easily support a little pothos or something. How cool would that look!
The only issue would be that the roots would be a nightmare to untangle, so bear in mind that once they’re been grown together, they’ll be extremely difficult to separate.
This is very much playing the long game, but if you have a little Monstera, you can train it to support itself over time. Every time it grows an aerial root, point it back into the soil.
This will not, contrary to popular belief, do, er, anything other than support your plant. You’re unlikely to get a new pup growing or anything (though it could happen).
But the root can root itself over time and help spread the weight of the plant. Here’s my Monstera aerial roots keeping up the plant:
I don’t bury them, because that can lead to them rotting. I just lay them on the soil and they make their way in over time. They’re pretty solid now, and I can’t take them out of the soil without damaging them.
Cheap, cheerful, and they work. The only issue I have is that sometimes they’re not ‘nodey’ enough (i.e. they have a pretty smooth surface) so the plant ties just slip down. The velcro plant ties you can get is pretty good at staying put though, as is the rubbery stuff.
Metal plant supports
You can get ones made for amaryllis or orchids but those tomatoes cage things can look really cool when they’re covered in a pothos or tradescantia or something.
There is no right answer here. Just give stuff a go. Get creative – grow your plants up old standing lamps or shelving units or whatever you have lying around.
Whilst it can be a chore to convince your plants to attach to things you want them to, it’s almost impossible to stop them climbing up things like walls and cabinets and attaching to them.
That’s just sod’s law I’m afraid.