Moss Pole Alternatives for Your Indoor Plants – Which is Best?

Don’t get us wrong – moss poles are fantastic. We love the health benefits they provide our indoor plants. But have you ever wondered if there are better alternatives? Are there cheaper options? That is easier and requires less maintenance. We’ll discover the answers (and more) in our comprehensive Moss Pole Alternatives guide.

Moss Pole Alternatives

Not only do moss poles give your indoor climbing plants more space, healthier growth, and a secondary water source. They also give your collection a new dynamic, allowing you to build vertically.

But can the same benefits be achieved with an alternative to moss poles?

Why Consider Alternatives to Moss Poles?

If you have been around the Garden Bench Top before, you will know we are big fans of moss poles.

However, as enjoyable as we find them, we even admit there are some downsides to moss poles.

For one, they can be messy and time-consuming to create. Plus, they can almost be considered an extension of the original plant, requiring regular maintenance and upkeep to prevent it from drying out.

Last but not least, moss poles are NOT budget-friendly options. Especially if you decide to engage in some handy work and build your own DIY moss pole (although, as our mantra goes, we love getting out hands dirty with a bit of DIY).

This is why we have compiled a list of alternative options for moss poles for your epiphytic indoor plants.

Moss Pole Alternatives
image credit: maddieandjoan

Moss Pole Alternatives – Is There a Better Solution?

In many cases, the answer to whether you should use a moss pole alternative will depend on your parenting style for your plants.

As we established earlier, moss poles require upkeep and maintenance, like misting and watering. This is fine if you have time to add it to your ever-growing list of plant chores.

However, if you are time-poor or adopt a laid-back approach to your plant babies, other options like stakes or trellises may suit your plant life better.

And we’ll use this opportunity as the perfect segue into the following section: trellis vs. moss poles.

Trellis vs. Moss Poles

Bamboo Trellis alternative to Sphagnum moss pole

Trellises are a great option to use for your indoor plants. And they come in many different types of materials to suit your decor or interior styling, like the bamboo trellis we used for our Philodendron Hederaceum ‘Brasil’ in the above picture. Other materials include:

  1. metal or wire,
  2. bamboo/wooden, and
  3. plastic.
Moss Pole Alternatives
image credit: onyagarden

Unlike a moss pole, a trellis is easy to establish and requires less maintenance. A frame can literally be installed and ready to go in under five minutes. All that is needed is to lodge the support spikes at the bottom into the soil or growing medium. Then all you need to do is attach your plant to the trellis, and you are done.

A main advantage of a trellis over a moss pole is that it is less intrusive to the central root system. A trellis support spikes are usually thin, so they won’t damage any mature roots or take up too much room.

Moss Pole Alternatives
image credit: onyagarden

While a moss pole requires thicker, more extensive supports, this leaves less room for the main root ball to grow. And the main roots can eventually become entangled with the base of the moss pole. Making it difficult for you when it comes time to separate and remove the moss pole.

Trellises are also aesthetically appealing and can be customized in shape and size to fit into the surrounding space.

A trellis can fan out, allowing your vining plants to grow in various directions, creating a natural appearance. Whereas a moss pole only provides one direction of growth – straight up.

Moss Pole Alternatives
image credit: onyagarden

Finally, trellises are less expensive because they do not contain moss or have any complicated structures. So, if you are on a tight plant budget, a trellis is an excellent option to keep your plants (like Monsteras or Philodendrons) happy.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Allows for greater creative license
  • Less intrusive on the central root system
  • Less maintenance and easy to install

Cons

  • It doesn’t provide a source of water or moisture
  • It can become unstable when your plant grows too big with mature large leaves.

Coconut Coir Poles vs. Moss Poles

Coco Coir poles are a popular alternative

Coconut coir (also known as coco coir) is another popular alternative medium to use on a moss pole.

As the name suggests, the medium comes from the fibrous exterior of coconuts. It is cleaned, sterilized, and processed to form the perfect growing medium that can be used in many aspects of gardening, including as the ideal substitute for sphagnum moss on a support pole.

Moss Pole Alternatives
image credit: kansodesigns

Like moss poles, the coco coir must still be tied to the support pole. And, like moss, it has water-retention properties that help sustain your plants’ aerial roots. Although, in our experience, it doesn’t stay as moist as sphagnum moss.

Coco coir poles are easy to source and are generally cheaper than moss poles (but not as cheap as other moss pole alternatives, like trellises or stakes).

An advantage of coco coir poles over moss poles is that they require less maintenance. They do not fall apart as quickly as moss poles. Which means you don’t have stray pieces of your pole floating around your plants.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Easy to find at local nurseries or online at places like Amazon.
  • Less messy as the coir fibers are intertwined together
  • Less maintenance and easy to install

Cons

  • More rigid and doesn’t bend or shape as well as moss poles
  • Doesn’t hold moisture as long as moss poles.

Wooden Stakes (or Branches) vs. Moss Poles

Natural branch alternative to moss pole

Some indoor plant enthusiasts use wooden stakes or scrap tree branches as a substitute for a moss pole. And we love this new trend.

It is a sustainable resource and provides the perfect support for your plants to grow and climb.

We’d opt for the rescued scrap branch if we had to choose between a wooden stake or a tree branch. It is a simple way of bringing the outdoors inside. And if you think about it, it is what these climbing plants would be doing in their natural environment – climbing tree trunks and branches.

Moss Pole Alternatives
image credit: nanolab.aq

Besides their appearance, there isn’t much difference between a wooden stake and a rescued tree branch. Both offer the same support for your plant.

However, when compared to a moss pole, there are significant differences.

Like trellises, a wooden stake or branch cannot absorb moisture for the aerial roots. But this also means the wooden substitute doesn’t require any maintenance. It is a simple set-and-forget addition to your indoor plant – perfect for the busy indoor plant enthusiast.

Moss Pole Alternatives
image credit: sustainablehoya

A wooden stake or branch is also much more sturdy. They can support larger plants with large leaves.

Moss Pole Alternatives

Pros

  • Sustainable and Affordable (or free in some cases)
  • More robust support and can be cut to any length
  • Natural aesthetic
  • Less maintenance and easy to install

Cons

  • It doesn’t retain moisture for aerial roots
Moss Pole Alternatives
image credit: cacthaus

Metal or PVC Pipes vs. Moss Pole

Did you know you can use metal or PVC (polyvinyl chloride) piping to replace a moss pole?

Like the wooden stakes, they provide a robust support structure for your indoor plants and are suitable for large, heavy plants.

Moss Pole Alternatives
image credit: leca.addict

We like combining the benefits of PVC piping with sphagnum moss in our self-watering moss poles because it forms a natural water reservoir with plastic capping on one end.

However, when metal or PVC piping alone is compared to moss poles, one obvious disadvantage is the inability of the aerial roots to grip onto the surface. Due to the hard and impenetrable nature of the material, a plant’s roots will find it challenging to adhere to the metal or PVC pole. Therefore you will need to manually attach the plant to the pole with velcro ties or cut-up strips of material.

That said, metal and PVC are very durable and will outlast organic materials like moss and wooden structures.

Pros

  • Extremely strong support
  • Low maintenance
  • Won’t need replacing

Cons

  • Materials are costly
  • Don’t provide any nutritional value for the plants
  • Cannot retain water for aerial roots

Moss Pole Alternatives – Final Thoughts

As you can see from our moss pole alternatives guide, plenty of options are available. You don’t have to stick to the standard moss pole anymore.

Each substitute has pros and cons, which will help support your indoor climbing plants.

Customize your indoor plant collection to suit your plant parenting style without sacrificing the health of your plants.

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References

  • Epiphyte. (2023, February 13). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphyte
  • Polyvinyl chloride. (2023, April 14). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyvinyl_chloride