Did you know many common houseplants are considered epiphytes? Plants such as Monsteras, Philodendrons, Hoya’s, Orchids—all epiphytes/ climbing plants in their natural environment. Given room and freedom, epiphytes tend to naturally grow along surfaces, usually on tree trunks. They mature as they climb. Some plants fenestrate more, while others just double in size. Monstera Deliciosa, Philodendron Melanochrysum or a swiss cheese plant will start to sprout smaller and more juvenile leaves if they’re not given proper support or not allowed to grow upwards. Giving a climbing pole for monstera is one of the best ways to promote maturity.
What does that support look like? How to stake a philodendron? Do Monsteras need a sphagnum mosspole? Well, some people say moss poles, others will argue that wooden planks are the best. Both of these options have their pros and cons, but let's discuss them in more detail.
A homemade moss pole or moss board for plants are made from sphagnum moss. You can buy them online or make a DIY sphagnum moss pole with a bunch of different materials (chicken wire, heaps of moss and zip ties). Making a DIY moss pole has it's advantages - you make a narrow moss pole, wide one for those thick stems or a shorty just perfect size for the pot and the plant, When the plant is trained (with the help of soft plant tie) and given the right amount of humidity, aerial roots take off with moss poles. They’re also a great way to help raise your ambient humidity. And they’re a tad easier to attach and can be made bigger when your plant inevitably outgrows it.
On the flip side, however, moss poles tend to dry out really fast—sometimes within 24 hours. if you don’t keep the moss pole moist or have high enough humidity, you won’t see those leaves mature. And when you have multiple moss poles around, having to constantly keep them moist isn’t always ideal. The next downside would be the expenses. Moss poles use a lot of sphagnum moss—we’re talking bags of it. Between that and chicken wire, the price can get a little high. But still, given all this information, there’s just something so classic about a big beefy Philodendron Verrucosum growing along sphagnum moss poles, hoya moss pole or monstera plants on a moss pole vs stick. Test it for yourself - add moss pole (diy moss pole or store bought) to monstera while is grows upwards, and see the magic unveil.
Coco coir pole:
Coco coir poles are another moss pole alternatives that can be used as climbing plant supports. Monstera moss poles that can be bought in store are mostly made from coco coir. They are similar to moss poles, a great moss pole alternative but do not need to be kept moist.
If I’m being honest, this is my preferred method and is a great moss pole substitute. You can use just a basic wooden plank from the hardware store, I recommend always going for cedar wood. Cedar holds up the best against moisture and won't rot nearly as fast as other types of wood. However, if you want something fancier, you can consider our Zella Trellis.
Wooden planks also mimic natural substrates, so they're more likely to encourage attachment to the wood than moss. The trick to getting your plant to attach is to have higher humidity. Ideally, at least 50%. If you’re able to keep humidity at 50% (whether in a cabinet, green house or plant room) those aerial roots will attach in no time. No worrying about moistening a moss pole—just set it and forget it. The biggest con, however, is rot and having to extend the plank. Cedar wood is always best—although it can be tricky to find sometimes. Once again, you could also look at our Zella Trellis. It’s made to be easily extendable and made from cedar which is less likely to rot as fast.
When it comes to maturing your plants, I would definitely recommend trying wood over moss. It requires very minimal effort and adds to that whole indoor jungle feel. And you might even be able to get your Hoya to bloom on the plank supports.
However, it's always worth it to experiment and see what works best for your environment.
Read more about other plant supports that are available in our previous blog post about Types of plant supports available for potted plants.