If you are growing a Monstera, you’re probably already aware that a moss pole can be beneficial, but you might be wondering whether you really need one, and how much it is likely to help your plant.
Monsteras evolved to climb trees in order to lift their leaves closer to the light. Their stems are slender and not usually capable of supporting their large, heavy foliage, and this means that your Monstera may end up sprawling across the floor. A moss pole gives your Monstera the support it needs and helps it to stay upright.
Do I Need To Use A Moss Pole For My Monstera?
Most Monstera plants will grow without a moss pole, but they may become problematic and messy. Their leaves will spread across the floor and get tangled up on top of each other, and they are unfortunately more vulnerable to diseases and pests in this situation.
Quite a few problems can occur with a Monstera that is in a heap all over the floor. For example, if you regularly mist your Monstera, it is unlikely to dry out properly, and this makes it vulnerable to fungal infections.
Secondly, the leaves that end up lower down and in a jumble will not be able to photosynthesize properly, because they will be piled up underneath other leaves and deprived of sunlight. They may turn pale and die back, leaving your plant less healthy.
There’s also a danger of standing on the leaves, getting tangled up in them, and tearing them. The leaves may not be able to grow well because they will have limited space, resulting in smaller and sicklier foliage. Your Monstera won’t be able to grow upward, so it will grow outward instead, which does not produce an attractive shape.
Furthermore, if your Monstera starts to grow more densely on one side (generally the one closest to a window), it may become unsteady and tip over. This could break the stems and leaves, and will make a mess.
Overall, therefore, there are many reasons to offer your Monstera some support, and encouraging it to grow upward will create a healthier and more attractive plant overall.
Because Monsteras are so aesthetically appealing, it’s nice to get your plant looking as good as possible, and a moss pole will help with this.
What Does A Moss Pole Look Like?
A moss pole is simply a thick cylinder of wood that has moss wound around it and tied into place. It has a natural, pleasing, and unobtrusive aesthetic that is intended to look somewhat like a tree trunk.
The sole purpose of moss poles is to provide a solid, firm support so that the Monstera can climb upward. Because of this, your moss pole often needs to be a bit taller than your Monstera, and firmly pressed into the soil.
Your Monstera will then be able to use the moss pole to lift itself up. Having a solid moss pole to grow against may encourage your Monstera to grow taller than if it has nothing to climb.
A moss pole is usually wound in dried sphagnum moss, which gives the Monstera a suitable surface to grab onto and provides plenty of grip. It’s also beneficial because it will trap moisture for the plant to soak up through its aerial roots.
You can use other surfaces to help your Monstera climb, or even just hook it to a wall in places, but it will grow best if it is given a mossy surface, as in its natural environment, it would be clinging to a mossy tree trunk for support.
How Will My Monstera Grow Up The Moss Pole?
A young Monstera should naturally start to climb the moss pole by latching onto it using its aerial roots. These look like little brown nubs that shoot off from the Monstera’s stems, and they will grab onto any vertical surface that they can find in order to support the weight of the Monstera’s leaves and stems.
If you put a moss pole in your Monstera’s pot, as near to the center as possible, the plant will soon start to climb it, hooking its roots into the rough, textured surface. You don’t need to tie a young Monstera to the pole, as it should soon find it and attach itself.
However, a large Monstera will need more help. Without support, its leaves will have started to grow outward, rather than staying near the center of the pot, so simply pushing a moss pole in there will not do any good because the plant won’t be able to find or reach it.
If this is the case with your plant, you may need to loosely tie its stems into place around the pole to bring the leaves and aerial roots into closer proximity with it. This isn’t easy to do once the stems have grown outward, but it is usually possible.
If you do need to do this, work slowly, gently lifting a stem or two at a time toward the center and the pole, and then tying them loosely with some thick string (thin may cut into the stems and damage the plant). It’s best to start with the inner stems, which are already close to the pole, and then bring the outer ones in.
Take your time and don’t bend stems further than they will easily go, or they may break. If you can get the majority of the plant off the floor and growing toward the center, this should be sufficient to stabilize the plant and tidy it up. Leave any foliage that really will not bend toward the pole.
If you snap any stems, it’s a good idea to use sterile shears to ensure the cut is clean. Discard the broken stem, and be careful with the others. Breaking a lot will stress your plant out and expose it to diseases.
Once the stems are close to the pole, the aerial roots should gradually work their way into the moss and anchor the plant to the pole, at which point you can remove the ties and let the plant grow naturally in a more upright position.
Can I Make My Own Moss Pole?
You don’t have to buy a moss pole if you would rather not; you can make your own at home with a few basic supplies. You need to gather the following materials:
The piping or cane that you use should be about a foot taller than your plant as a minimum, as this will ensure it is supportive and give scope for the plant to climb. Some people prefer to use plastic string because this will not rot when it gets wet. However, you can use cotton if you are prepared to replace it every so often.
Once you have your supplies you can follow the next 5 steps to create your own moss pole:
- Start by soaking the sphagnum moss in water.
- Take your pole and gently push it into the plant’s pot until it is deep enough to be stable and provide support – it is best to put it in the center of your pot if you can because this will encourage even growth, but if this would damage your Monstera’s roots or stems, go as near to the center as you can.
- Take the pole out again and mark how much of it will be buried in the soil – you do not need moss below this point, so it’s important to work this out.
- Remove the moss from the water and begin wrapping and winding it around your pole, using the string to secure it in place as necessary – it may take a bit of practice to get the motion correct, but you will eventually get there. You want a deep layer all around the pole, as this will give the Monstera roots space to grow and anchor themselves firmly.
- Insert it into the pot so that the bare end is covered with soil and the plant can start using it to grow up – If necessary, use more of your string to tie the Monstera’s leaves close to the pole so that its roots have a better chance of finding the support.
Can I Use A Coco Coir Pole Instead Of A Moss Pole?
Some people don’t have easy access to sphagnum moss and would rather use a coco coir pole. These two support structures look similar and perform a similar service, but some people prefer how the coco coir poles look, as they tend to provide a better contrast against the Monstera’s leaves.
However, moss poles are much better for your Monstera because they will hold onto moisture. The Monstera’s aerial roots are much more likely to grow into a damp surface, and sphagnum moss traps moisture beautifully, providing a perfect environment for the roots.
Coco coir does not hold onto moisture nearly as well, unfortunately. It will still work and the Monstera will still cling to it readily, but you must be prepared to increase the humidity more frequently than with a moss pole.
How Do I Keep A Moss Pole Damp?
The best way to make the moss pole damp is to mist it every few days with a plant sprayer. You can check whether it has dried out by pressing a finger into the moss, and it’s a good idea to let it do this occasionally. This ensures the Monstera’s aerial roots don’t get too wet, which might cause them to rot.
If you have made the pole too wet, simply give it a few days to dry out. If necessary, increasing the airflow near the Monstera will help this to happen, but don’t expose your plant to cold drafts or sudden temperature changes.
How Soon Will My Monstera Grow Up The Pole?
This depends a bit on how moist you manage to keep the moss pole; extra moisture will promote quick root growth and encourage the Monstera to attach itself firmly. It will also depend on the time of year, as Monsteras grow more quickly in the summer.
In general, around six weeks should be sufficient. You can then remove the ties, but you should check that the roots are holding the plant firmly enough before you do this, especially if you are trying to train a large Monstera to grow against the pole.
The best way to check involves cutting the string with one hand but holding the stem in place with another. If the roots seem to be straining and the stem is trying to pull them away from the pole, replace the string until the roots have got stronger and better established.
You may find it’s easiest to do this with two people, so that one person can reattach the string while another holds the stem in place and reduces the strain on the roots.
It’s best to leave the ties in place for longer than necessary, rather than risking the roots tearing free, as this will reset all the progress for that stem.
Will My Monstera Grow Tall Without A Moss Pole?
Unless it has some form of support, it’s unlikely that your Monstera will get very tall at any point. It will grow outward, but not upward, because its stems will not be able to support the weight of its leaves without a vertical surface to cling to.
How tall it will get without a pole may depend on the variety, as some are better at self-support than others, but none will reach their full height unless they can climb.
A moss pole will benefit your Monstera and allow it to grow upward and spread its leaves. In general, a plant with a moss pole will be taller, healthier, and better able to photosynthesize, and it will also look more aesthetically pleasing, so there are lots of reasons to add a pole. Moss poles are also inexpensive and easy to make at home.