Epiphyte plants are known for their trailing and climbing growth habits. They can fill a space with their lush green foliage, and they’re usually easy to grow too! But it might be time for a moss pole if you notice your once small plant is taking over your living room.
A moss pole gives plants a structure to grow on and nutrients via water. Like with soil, you need to water a moss pole to be effective regularly.
To keep a moss pole moist for days and even weeks at a time, try misting the moss pole, installing a water bottle drip, or creating a wicking system.
Let’s look at how to implement these methods and how they’ll help your plants grow!
What is the Point of a Moss Pole?
Epiphytes like Pothos and Monstera have an insatiable need to climb, so gardeners need to provide them with a climbing environment. A moss pole will first and foremost provide a structure for your plant to grow on. This mimics the way epiphytes grow on trees in the wild.
Epiphytes are also unique in that they not only climb but also produce aerial roots. A moss pole provides micronutrients via water that feeds these roots and helps the plant produce bigger leaves. So not only will your plant look nicer growing upward, but it will grow bigger and healthier too!
Should a Moss Pole Be Kept Moist?
Many commercially available moss poles are created with coco coir, made from coconut fibers. This material has a hard time holding onto the water but is long-lasting and strong.
Sphagnum moss is the most popular choice for moss poles. This natural material is water-retentive and has an excellent soft but fibrous texture that aerial roots can easily latch onto.
The most important feature of a moss pole is that it stays wet. Tropical epiphytes grow in the canopy where humidity levels are high. A moist moss pole will help foster a more humid environment for your plant. This constant access to water will feed the aerial roots and allow the plant to grow and thrive.
Once a moss pole dries out, rehydration can be difficult without dismantling and re-soaking it.
How Do You Keep Moss Poles Moist Without Overwatering?
There are many ways to keep a moss pole moist. Some techniques involve daily watering, but a popular solution for busy people is to create a self-watering system.
Let’s look at the different ways to keep a moss pole moist, starting with the basics.
Mist With Water
If you own tropical plants, misting them is probably already a part of your daily routine. Misting a moss pole every day will keep it moist, but you must stay on top of it since the mist evaporates quickly. Make sure you mist the entire moss pole, not just the top. Getting the moss pole fully saturated might take 1-2 bottles.
If daily misting is too much upkeep, you can install a humidifier near your moss pole. This will help keep it moist for longer, as long as you run it for several hours a day.
Install a Water Bottle Drip
A water bottle drip system will slowly release water to moisten your moss pole. This slow-release system ensures that the moss properly absorbs the water. This “self-watering” method works best with a sphagnum moss pole, as this type of moss is very absorbent.
To create a water bottle drip, simply fill a plastic bottle with water (a 500ml bottle should work just fine). Use a pin to insert 3-5 holes in the lid. The finer the holes, the slower the water will drip.
You can secure the bottle to the top of the moss pole if it seems unstable. This can be done with duct tape or some twine or chicken wire. Once the water runs out, you should refill the bottle and repeat. This way, your moss pole will have constant moisture and will not be at risk of drying out.
Creating a Wicking System
Wicking systems are a great way to keep your moss pole wet over a longer period of time. For this technique, you’ll need a wicking material such as cotton rope. The idea is that moisture will travel along this material, enabling it to wet the whole moss pole.
To create a wicking system for your moss pole, you’ll need sphagnum moss, cotton rope, and a PVC pipe. Simply feed the rope through the PVC pipe, then coil the rest around the outside of the pipe. Wrap the pipe in sphagnum moss, and finish it by watering down the center of the pipe.
The water will saturate the cotton rope first. Then, that moisture will slowly travel along the rope and permeate the moss on the moss pole.
Do You Have to Soak a Moss Pole?
Before you install a moss pole, you should let it soak in water for 15-20 minutes. This initial pre-soak will make it easier for the moss pole to absorb water.
When making your moss pole from scratch, you must soak the sphagnum moss first. Sphagnum moss usually comes dry, and soaking it will cause it to expand, making it much easier to attach to the pole.
If you let your moss pole dry out, you can re-soak it to bring it back to life. Beware that a dry moss pole will make it harder for the plant’s aerial roots to attach.
Will a Moss Pole Mold?
Mold is natural, but there’s no denying that seeing mold on your moss pole can be alarming. This fungus is common on moss poles but also avoidable.
Mold grows in humid and moist environments. So if you see mold growing on your moss pole, you should first decrease the humidity. Do this by increasing airflow to the area with a fan or an open window. At the same time, you should reduce the moisture by allowing the moss pole to dry out. Skip one week of watering and see if the mold growth slows down.
You can mix hydrogen peroxide and water to get rid of the mold. Buy the lowest concentration of hydrogen peroxide available (usually 3%). Mix 2 tablespoons of peroxide with 8 ounces of water and mist onto the moss pole daily. Tomato gardeners commonly use this solution to get rid of pests and diseases.
Which Plants Benefit From a Moss Pole?
Any epiphytes or hemiepiphytes will benefit from a moss pole. Here are a few common houseplants that should always have a moss pole:
- Creeping Fig
- Trailing Begonia
Monstera Deliciosa is one of the most popular epiphyte houseplants. This plant is beloved for its unique fenestrations (holes in the leaves). Moss poles will help your Monstera Deliciosa grow bigger and larger fenestrations!
Moss Pole Alternatives
Moss poles are a great all-in-one solution for climbing plants as they mimic a plant’s natural environment by providing support and nutrition. But moss poles are not the only solution out there.
Bamboo trellises also offer support for climbing plants. They’re a great option because they are lightweight and simple to install. They are also very inexpensive. Bamboo trellises can be found at any gardening store, or you can simply make your own with bamboo and twine!
Wooden planks are another alternative that works incredibly well for climbers with flat leaves, such as Rhaphidophora Hayi. Simply buy a flat wooden plank from the hardware store and add it to your pot before you add the soil. Use rot-resistant wood such as cedar to avoid fungus.
You can also use a simple plastic or metal pipe as a stake. They’ll keep the overall look of your plant nice and minimal and don’t come with the risk of mold. The downside is that they have smooth sides, which are hard for aerial roots to latch onto.
Moss poles are a must-have for plant owners with Monsteras, Pothos, or any other climbing plant. Moss poles provide these plants with a structure to grow on and a constant source of nutrients from the water.
Plant owners can use some tips and techniques to keep a moss pole moist for days and even weeks at a time, including misting the moss pole, installing a water bottle drip, or creating a wicking system.
The moss pole should always be moist to provide a flow of nutrients to your plant. You can achieve this simply through daily misting. A more hands-off approach is to install a self-watering system in the form of a slow-release water bottle drip.
If the goal is to keep the moss pole moist for longer periods of time, you can create a wicking system with cotton rope. All these methods are effective, so the best watering technique is the one you find easiest to use!