Complete Guide for What Kind of Moss for Moss Poles
Did you know that moss poles can be made from different types of moss? You have most likely heard about sphagnum moss poles, which are excellent. But moss poles can also be made from coconut coir (or coconut fiber), Spanish moss, and more. Each moss has pros and cons – which we’ll explore in this article.
Best Moss for Moss Pole
We find making our moss poles a thoroughly rewarding experience.
Our plants love the vertical growth the moss pole encourages. And it ultimately makes them healthier and promotes vigorous growth.
We, as plant parents, also receive plenty of benefits as well. We feel that indoor plants are more aesthetically appealing when propped up. And it provides the foundation for creating stunning feature plants in your home.
You can’t tell us you’d miss Reddit user raybarks monster of a monstera plant in a home.
But does the type of moss used with the moss pole make a difference?
That is precisely what we are about to find out. So let’s dive in and get our hands dirty!
Sphagnum Moss in Moss Pole
Sphagnum moss is one of the most popular mosses (and a personal favorite) to create moss sticks with.
There are over 300 different types of sphagnum moss worldwide, which can naturally be found at the surface of swamps and bogs. Many commercial farmers harvest sphagnum moss directly from these bogs and treat it to eradicate pests and diseases.
It is a popular moss used widely throughout the gardening world for purposes such as starting seeds, a growing medium for potted plants, propagating cuttings, and the outer lining of hanging baskets.
And, for our purposes, sphagnum moss is a fantastic material for moss poles.
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We have a complete guide to caring for sphagnum moss HERE.
Pros of Sphagnum Moss for Moss Poles
Let’s examine why sphagnum moss poles are so popular and the benefits of using them with your plants.
One of the primary reasons why sphagnum moss is the favored choice for moss poles (aka moss sticks) is because it is excellent at absorbing and retaining water.
In fact, sphagnum moss can absorb up to 20 times its own weight in water. This means it can be a secondary water source for the aerial roots that develop on vining plants, like monstera deliciosa and philodendrons.
Sphagnum moss is also light and porous, which promotes good airflow and circulation. This helps prevent the growth of bacteria and allows the aerial roots to grip the moss pole.
One of the main benefits of using sphagnum moss in moss poles is its abundance and availability worldwide.
Ever since gardeners recognized the potential of using sphagnum moss in gardening, its popularity has only increased. Forcing nurseries and garden suppliers to stock the moss medium.
And the reason why retailers and gardeners can source sphagnum moss is due to its plenitude and low cost. It can be harvested in large quantities, treated, and shipped after it has been compressed for transport. All these factors contribute to reducing the overall cost to the end consumers – all the green thumbs around the world.
Easy to Manage
Sphagnum moss is an all-around favorite because it is simple to work with.
It is lightweight, making molding around the moss pole easy. It is also malleable, so creating the perfect thickness of moss on the pole is easily achievable.
Once the moss is in place, holding it while tying or attaching it to your supporting pole is easy.
Cons of Sphagnum Moss for Moss Poles
As much as we like to hold sphagnum moss on a pedestal, there are a few drawbacks to using it as the base medium in moss poles. Let’s briefly touch on the items you should be aware of.
Unbalanced pH Levels
While most moss maintains a neutral pH, sphagnum moss can sometimes form a slightly acidic pH environment.
The levels are not so acidic that they become dangerous to indoor plants. However, houseplants that are sensitive to acidity may not take to sphagnum moss poles and will struggle to thrive.
So, as we always recommend at the Garden Bench Top, do a quick search on your phone before you give in to that impulse as you walk past the plant aisle on your weekly shop.
Coconut Coir (Fiber) Moss Poles
Another popular moss material to use in moss poles is coconut fiber (also known as coco coir).
Coco coir is not a type of moss.
It is the part between the hardened outer shell of the coconut and the exterior of the inner coconut seed (the delicious and edible parts of the coconut). It appears as a brown fibrous medium that feels like thick abrasive wires.
Coco coir is produced by processing the fibrous inner parts of the coconut into a substance that can be fashioned into coco coir bricks and coco soil. It is popular for starting seeds and amending soil to make it lighter with more excellent retention of excess water.
But for our purposes, we are interested in the coconut coir garden mats. This is coconut coir that has been processed into thick mats.
So rather than fiddling around with loose bits of coco coir. We can simply wrap the coconut coir garden mats around the upright pole. Making the process seamless and straightforward.
Pros of Coco Coir Moss Poles
Unlike sphagnum moss, coco coir has a neutral pH level of 7. This means it is the perfect base material for a moss pole.
Irrespective if your plants prefer acidic or alkaline environments, the neutral beginning of coco coir means you can easily manipulate the environment to suit your indoor climbing plant.
A huge positive about coco coir is the favorable impact coconut coir has on the environment. There is an abundance of coconuts available worldwide. Plus, it is an excellent substitute for peat moss, a material many gardeners covet and love to use in their projects.
Unfortunately, harvesting and transporting peat moss from the swamps and bogs can have a negative impact on the environment. So, by using coco coir instead, we can create beautiful, sustainable moss poles without causing any disruption to our precious environment.
Higher Water Retention
Coco coir also has higher water retention rates than other mosses, such as peat moss.
And you know what that means—plenty of moisture and a readily available water source for those thirsty aerial roots from your indoor climbers.
Cons of Using Coco Coir for Moss Poles
The good news is there aren’t many downsides to using coco coir moss poles.
Tricky to Use
If you have ever worked with coco coir, you will be familiar with its crumbly and messy consistency.
Unfortunately, the consistency of the coco coir does not make it easy to work with when it comes to making moss poles.
Unlike the sphagnum sheet moss, the coco coir is hard to hold in place with ties.
A solution is to encase the coco coir pieces in a hollow moss pole structure which neatly holds the coconut pieces together.
Just remember coco coir can absorb 5-10 times its volume in water. Which means it will grow in size and will expand when moistened.
Depending on your local nursery or retail outlet, coco coir may be more expensive than other products, such as sphagnum moss.
Particularly if you purchase it for small projects, such as moss poles. However, if you are like us and like to plan, we like to make multiple moss poles at once to lower the cost of materials and time involved in the project.
Another type of moss that can be used for moss poles is Spanish moss.
Admittedly, Spanish moss poles are far less common than sphagnum or coco coir versions. And to be honest, we don’t know why this is the case.
The look and feel of the moss are sublime.
In fact, you may have seen Spanish moss in your travels without even knowing it. Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) grows in warm and humid climates, such as regions in the southeastern US, South America, and the Caribbean.
In its natural environment, you can observe it growing on trees like oak and cypress trees. It often hangs from trees and rocks.
Strangely, Spanish moss is not a moss but rather a type of bromeliad. Nonetheless, it can also be a substitute growing medium for moss poles.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of using Spanish Moss.
Pros of Using Spanish Moss Poles
Easy to Shape
Like sphagnum moss, Spanish Moss is a versatile and flexible material that makes it easy to work with for moss poles.
It is a lightweight material that naturally comes in long strands. This makes it the perfect material to wrap around a sturdy structure (base of the moss pole).
Plus, it can easily be manipulated into different shapes and forms, affording you the creativity to realize all your indoor plant dreams.
Spanish moss has permeable scales on its leaves. In other words, it can absorb and release water.
This ability makes it the perfect moss pole material, as it acts as a secondary water supply for your magnificent indoor epiphytic plants.
Cons of Using Spanish Moss Poles
Dry Out Quicker
While possessing permeable scales allows Spanish moss to absorb water easily, it can also dry out more quickly because it is less water retentive.
Unfortunately, this can lead to higher maintenance and care requirements, which may not suit some indoor enthusiasts’ lifestyles.
Without regular watering to keep your moss pole moist, the Spanish moss can become dry and brittle. Causing the pole to deteriorate, defeating the primary purpose of moss poles, and supporting your climbing indoor plants.
Hard to Source
One of the primary reasons Spanish Moss poles are less familiar is their availability. Spanish moss is less abundant than other materials, such as sphagnum and coconut fiber.
It is also more intensive and laborious to collect. Requiring collection from difficult places, such as high up in trees or dangerous rock cliffs.
Not Suitable for All Plants
Last but not least, due to the density of Spanish moss, it is not suitable for all indoor house plants to use as a support material.
Spanish moss is a loose moss with long straggly strands, which makes it hard for air roots to embed into it. Whereas other materials, like sphagnum moss, are thicker with a smaller weave between the moss strands. Allowing the aerial roots to grip and quickly establish a stronghold easily.
- Sphagnum. (2023, March 10). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sphagnum
- Porous. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/porous
- Epiphyte. (2023, February 13). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphyte