Moss Poles Are Great, But Here Are Some Alternatives

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Moss poles are all well and good, but they require care and maintenance – it’s like having a whole other plant.

You also need to buy (or make) the pole part, as well as the moss to fill it up.

I have a few and I’m horrendously bad at keeping them damp so they don’t really do anything.

I’m a Kratiste pole girl myself, but first I’m just going to go through why moss poles are so popular. They’re one of those houseplant products you 100% DON’T need (I mean, there are no moss poles in the wild), buuuuut there’s a reason they’re popular amongst the more serious houseplant hobbyists out there.

I have a video that goes through the various pros and cons of moss poles and moss alternatives:

Why use moss poles?

Moss poles aren’t for the lazy, but there’s no denying that they provide the plant with a few benefits that will seriously impact growth.

Plants grow bigger and faster

A lot of climbing plants start their lives on the rainforest floor, searching for a convenient tree they can climb up. Once they detect that they’re growing vertically rather than horizontally, signals are sent to the nodes to start increasing leaf size.

They assume that they’re going to be getting more light because they’re growing closer to the sun. Plants aren’t familiar with ceilings, so the fact the light hasn’t changed doesn’t really impact their decision.

You don’t need a moss pole to do this. Pinning your plant *somehow* so that it grows vertically is enough.

They can develop a secondary root system which will supercharge growth

This is the reason moss poles are so much more popular than coir poles or trellises.

Again, this isn’t something that would happen in the wild so it’s NOT necessary BUT it will get your plant growing bigger and faster.

Basically, every node roots in the moss as it grows, adding stability to the plant and increasing the root volume significantly. Since most climbing plants only have one growth point at once a tonne of roots means that the plant has extra energy that it can put into both growing faster and making sure each leaf is significantly bigger than the previous one.

It keeps plants tidy

Usually. Plants like Philodendron verrucosum look very neat on a pole. Other plants like Philodendron golden dragon will never look neat, because their growth pattern is like what would happen if Christmas lights reproduced by binary fission*.

*It’s a clunky analogy, but if you have a golden dragon, you’ll get it.

Alternatives to moss poles

There are loads of moss pole alternatives. Whilst you won’t get quite the same results as you would from a proper moss pole, there’s usually no maintenance.

Coir poles

Coir poles are a popular alternative to moss poles, but they’re a it unfashionable in the houseplant community.

I like them. They’re cheap and they keep your plant upright. They also don’t require maintenance. I see people recommending that you keep them moist, but they dry out incredibly quickly and can rot so I just use them dry.

The aerial roots are unlikely to attach to dry coir, but you can attach the stems manually with greening pins or garden ties.

Kratiste poles

My personal favourite, and perfect for lazy people. You won’t get the extra root system, but the aerial roots attach by themselves.

The amount I wang on about them you’d think I had some skin in the game but no, I just love an easy solution.

Trellises

Trellises can be good for smaller vining plants like hoya – especially Hoya actually, because they climb by wrapping their tendrils around branches.

I’m not a massive fan of trellises for aroids, purely because they tend to only have one active growth point so you end up wasting a lot of trellis. They can be good for plants that have multiple specimens in though – like if you’ve planted several Syngonium or Pothos cuttings together.

Again, the aerial roots won’t attach so you’ll have to tie them to the trellis.

Wooden planks

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!

Other plants

I mean, it’s 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.

Aerial roots

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).

I have a whole article on aerial roots here.

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:

monstera supported by its own aerial roots

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.

Bamboo canes

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 tomato 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.

In conclusion

Moss poles are awesome, but there are loads of alternatives. How your plant climbs and attaches is also impacted by your environment, so a plant in a warm, humid room will be more likely to want to attach itself to whatever it’s climbing up.

Caroline Cocker

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

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