How to Use Moss Poles: Don’t Make These Mistakes
If you have been around the Garden Bench Top, you will know we’ve had many successes using moss poles with our epiphytic houseplants, like monsteras and philodendrons. However, as with most wins, we’ve also had our share of mistakes and failures. To avoid disappointment, we’ve compiled a comprehensive beginner’s guide to Moss Poles to help you avoid repeating our mistakes.
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Moss poles are fantastic tools that can add a new dimension to your indoor plant collection. But only when they are used correctly! If the poles are not installed properly, or your plants are not attached aptly, a moss pole may cause issues for you and your plants.
To help you avoid plant parent disappointment, follow the steps for How to Use a Moss Pole and, more importantly, the mistakes to look out for when installing your moss poles.
How to Use a Moss Pole: Step-by-Step Instructions
Below are the steps to staking an indoor climbing plant with a moss pole. We’ll also sprinkle in some tips and tricks to put the odds of success in your favor.
So keep an eye out for those nuggets of wisdom🙂.
1. Plant Preparation
Before you dive into sculpting your plant around a moss pole, allow your indoor plant to dry out.
We find it is more manageable if the soil is drier because removing your plant from the pot is easier.
In addition, the soil crumbles off the roots (rather than becoming a sticky mess). You can loosen and tease the outer roots to encourage more robust growth.
2. Root Inspection and Moss Pole Position
Because we only repot our houseplants once every 1-2 years (sometimes longer), we encourage our readers to make the most of it. Take the opportunity to inspect your plant’s root ball thoroughly. Check to see if there are any worrying signs like pests or indications of root rot present in the system.
Once you have the green light on your plant’s roots, turn your attention to the part of the plant that resides above the soil line.
Take a step back and consider the best angles for your plant. Which direction is the front of the plant (the best angle), and where is the back?
Admittedly, this isn’t as easy as it sounds.
We know, we know, your plant looks excellent from every direction.
But believe it or not, some houseplants have a front and back.
For example, you can tell the front of a Monstera Deliciosa by how the leaves face and connect at the main stem.
Most of the leaves on a Monstera will favor one side, which is generally the front of the plant (also usually where the primary light source is). However, the biggest giveaway is how the leaves connect at the main stem.
You can see in the picture above how the leaves are growing to the left of the image while the aerial roots are growing on the opposite side.
It is clear the back of our Monstera is where the aerial root is developing (leaves facing away from toward the front), which is where the moss pole should be positioned.
It also helps to position the moss pole towards the side of a pot (not in the center). This way, your indoor plant will have plenty of room to spread its beautiful leaves and improve air circulation.
3. Install Your Moss Pole
With a good idea of where to place your moss pole, it is time to insert it into your pot plant.
If you have purchased a pre-made moss pole, it should have some stakes on the bottom that will sit in the soil. Simply insert these into the root mass at the back of your plant. Obviously, try to avoid damaging roots. However, sometimes it is unavoidable, so don’t be overly cautious.
If you have gone down the hands-on path and built your own DIY Moss Pole, you may need to remove some of the soil from the root ball to allow enough space to install your moss pole.
Remember to backfill your plants again with soil and press down firmly to hold the moss pole in place.
4. Secure Your Plant
With specialized plant ties, secure your plant to the moss pole to encourage it to attach itself via its aerial roots.
This process should be easy because you have already strategically planned your moss pole position in Step 2. Secure the back of the plant to the pole with the aerial root nubs touching the moss pole.
GARDEN BENCH TOP TIP
We like to use velcro plant ties to adjust or remove the ties as the plant grows and matures.
5. Water Your Moss Pole
With your plant now set up with a moss pole, the next step is to ensure your moss is moist to encourage the air roots to grow and grip onto the pole for support.
It is essential to monitor your new setup over the next few days closely. If your plant begins to look weak or unhappy, run through a troubleshooting checklist for your plant type to determine possible issues and solutions.
How to Use Moss Poles: Mistakes to Avoid
As promised, to help you navigate the pitfalls of installing moss poles, here is our list of common mistakes or problems.
Too Dense Moss
This mistake generally happens when you have made your own DIY moss pole. However, some pre-made moss poles may still experience this problem.
If the moss in your moss pole is packed too tight and becomes too dense, it can lead to health issues for your plant.
Firstly, the density will prevent the aerial roots from penetrating the moss, forcing the aerial roots to attach only to the surface. This results in the roots being limited in the moisture they can receive from the moss pole.
Secondly, dense moss poles tend to hold too much water and become oversaturated. The excess moisture creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungus to grow, which can lead to mold growing on your moss poles.
Too Tight Ties
Sometimes novice plant parents may get too overzealous while tying their plants to the moss poles.
If plants are tied too tightly to their poles, it can result in vine damage. Or in extreme circumstances, the ties can cut off the nutrient supply of the main vine to the leaf. They are essentially starving any foliage above the connection, resulting in the death of that part of the plant.
When attaching your plant to the moss pole, aim for a loose tie that holds it in place. Space between the vine and the pole is allowed up to 2-4 mm.
As mentioned earlier, we like to use velcro ties because they can be adjusted if required.
Another common mistake when learning how to use a moss pole is overwatering.
As your plant matures and develops air roots that attach themselves to your moss pole, the moss becomes an essential water source. Which means you need to maintain the moisture levels.
However, as with overwatering your plants in soil, an overwatered moss pole can attract diseases and pests. Particularly sinister diseases like rot can infect your epiphytic plant.
Some proactive indoor plant enthusiasts choose to install self watering moss poles to make the maintenance easier for their plant collection.
Moss poles are a climbing plant’s best friend. They promote healthy and fast growth.
But to achieve this growth, you must learn how to use a moss pole correctly.
With this guide, you can become a moss pole expert and learn what mistakes to avoid when installing your first moss pole.