Do you want to give your indoor plant support with a moss pole to help it climb? While you can go out and buy moss poles from online retailers or your local nursery, they’re an easy DIY project you can make at home for a fraction of the cost. Plus, making it yourself allows you to customize the width and length of the pole to suit the plant.
There are several different plants that can benefit from using a moss pole. Common climbing houseplants like arrowhead plants, brasil philodendrons, heartleaf philodendrons, monstera adansonii, monstera deliciosas, pothos, and satin pothos. Any plant that grows aerial roots can adapt to climbing up a moss pole, and many plants will respond by growing lusher and larger if you allow them to grow vertically. All you need is an hour and a few simple materials to create your own with this tutorial.
Moss poles are a great living support system for climbing or vining plants, and you can make them any size or width you like.
Defining a Moss Pole
A moss pole is a sturdy pole of stick that you coat in moss that encourages plants to grow vertically instead of sideways or down. There are many different plants that can benefit from this support system, especially epiphytes.
This is a type of plant that grows onto the surface of another plant, and it takes the nutrients and moisture it needs to grow from rain, air, water, and the debris that fall around it. A lot of these plants are vines that grow up tree branches and into the canopy. The function of this pole is to mimic a plant’s natural growing environment by offering a surface that is easy for the plant to cling to and has micronutrients.
Moss poles allow for root attachment, and this helps make your plant stronger. Also, moss is absorptive, and so keeping your moss pole moist all of the time will allow the vines to get another source of water when they’re 100% attached to the support.
Moss Pole Benefits
It can be beneficial to use a moss pole if you want to encourage your houseplants to grow in a specific way. In many instances, people use these poles to teach their plants to grow vertically. If you want them to grow up instead of out or down, you can do this for several reasons, including:
- More plant placement flexibility
- Reduces plant space
- Allows you to shape the plant
When you use a moss pole, you can shape your plant to grow or drape better. For example, if you have a Monstera, you can have more control over the direction it grows. If you didn’t use a pole, it could go in any direction and sprawl out. While there is nothing wrong with this either, it takes up more space.
Plants That Can Benefit from Moss Poles
Before we get to how to build your own moss pole, it’s a great idea to see if you have plants that would benefit from using one. The best plants to grow on this pole are vines, hanging plants, and climbing ones. Allowing your plants to grow like they naturally would is the goal of great plant care, but your houseplant may require more help than you think when you buy it.
In nature, your climbing or hanging plants will most likely grow in tropical or jungle environments. It grows against solid structures like rocks or trees. Your plants need these solid structures to lend stability. When you give your plants a moss pole, you’re giving them structure and supporting growth. Monstera and other climbing or hanging plants benefit the most from this structure.
How to Make a Moss Pole – 19 Steps
Instead of having your plants drooping down or climbing sideways, moss poles give them the support they need to grow vertically.
To make your moss pole, you’ll have to soak sphagnum moss in water to make it easier to work with. You’ll also need a support system like chicken wire and sharp cutters to make the body of your system. You’ll also need:
- Chicken wire
- Sphagnum moss
- Zip ties
Step 1: Gather the Necessary Materials
To build your moss pole, you’ll need a medium to form the body. The most commonly used one is sphagnum moss. It works well for this project because it’s great at retaining water and soft enough for your plants to put their air roots into and attach. If you can’t find any, you can use leca balls or a really fine mesh with pebbles or potting soil.
We do recommend that you try to find sphagnum moss as this really is the best medium to make up the body of the pole. You should purchase between two and four packs to ensure you have enough for your project. How much you need will depend on how wide and tall you want to make the pole.
Chicken wire is essential as this is what you’ll roll around your sphagnum moss. The mesh will lend stability to the setup, and it’ll help to hold the moss in place and provide open spaces for the plant roots to attach as they climb.
You can get a PVC-coated hardware mesh too. As long as you’re not making multiple poles and stacking them, you won’t need to add PVC or wooden stakes to make it more stable. The mesh is very easy to form and bend while being sturdy. Look for chicken wire that is ½-inch for the mesh size and 19-gauge thickness.
Compression Sprayer or Pouring Jug
A compression sprayer will allow you to add water to the container and keep your moss wet. This is a completely optional step that isn’t 100% necessary, but you can use it to keep the moss lightly moist and add fertilizer to the pole. This will allow the roots to grow quickly and the plants to attach better. However, be aware that dry moss works too.
You will want to get a container or a bucket that you can put your dry moss on so you can get it wet. A simple mop bucket will work fine, or you can even use an old planter you have laying around as long as you plug the drainage holes so you don’t have a mess to clean up later on.
You’ll need to get wire cutters to cut through the chicken wire and the zip ties. Regular scissors most likely won’t work well. You’ll make it through the zip ties with them but not the chicken wire.
Zip ties give you a very fast and easy way to close the wire mesh once you get the moss inside of it and roll it to the desired diameter. Zip ties are what make this tutorial so user-friendly over other options.
Step 2: Choose the Sphagnum moss
This type of moss has pore spacing up to 97%, and it can hold roughly 60% to 68% of its volume in water. This is why it’s a perfect medium to use in a moss pole. Climbing plants can attach their aerial root systems to it and start forming bigger leaves due to the constant supply of water and support.
Step 3: Put Water in a Container
Put the moss into your container and fill it with water. You can use rainwater, tap water, or distilled water without an issue. Using lukewarm tap water will gently encourage the moss to soak it up so it’s not nearly as crumbly or dry as it is when you first remove it from the package. This also reduces the mess factor.
Step 4: Soak the Moss if 5 to 10 Minutes
You need to allow the moss to soak in water for 5 to 10 minutes before you start using it. Pot the moss into the bucket and add your water. Allow it to soak for a few minutes and watch the colors go from a beige or light brown to a darker shade.
Sphagnum moss is very brittle and messy if you’re not careful with it, so soaking it makes it much easier to work with.
Step 5: Prepare the Wire Frame
Lay out your chicken wire and take your measurements. You may want to try and lay the wire flat on a surface and roll it from side to side. Thai will help you decide what thickness you want to go for with your moss pole.
You can make it flat, slim, or round. However, we’ve found that a slim, round moss pole works the best for indoor applications. The slimmer poles take up less space in the container, and this allows you to give your plants more potting medium. Some plants will appreciate having a flatter surface to climb up and cling on to others. If this is the case, form a flatter pole or wait until you pack it with moss and gently flatten it.
Step 6: Cutting the Chicken Wire
Scissors won’t work well on chicken wire. You may end up cutting the wire, but you’ll destroy your scissors in the process. This is why it’s best to skip the hassle and invest in a good pair or wire cutters. Carefully cut the wire on your measurements.
Step 7: Prepare Your Moss
After you soak your moss for 5 to 10 minutes, take a small amount in your hand and press as much water out as you can. You don’t want it to drip as you assemble the pole.
Step 8: Arrange the Moss
Carefully arrange your moss throughout the middle of your chicken wire. Don’t be afraid to do several layers so you have a thicker medium.
Step 9: Leave Space on the Sides
When you start to arrange the moss on the wire, don’t forget to leave some space on the sides as this will allow you to secure it once you roll it up. Also, leave some open space along the bottom as you are working as this is what you’ll stick into your potting medium.
Step 10: Roll the Fence
Using both hands, carefully roll the chicken wire. You want your moss to be tightly packed into the middle because as the moss dries out, it’ll start to shrink. So, as you roll it, try to press it so you get as round of a shape as possible that is very tight to prevent you from losing moss later.
You want to roll your chicken wire as tightly as you can around the moss since the moss will shrink as it dries out.
Step 11: Prepare the Zip Ties
Zip ties are the shortcut that is going to make this moss pole tutorial easier than others. Pick out several tips ties and get ready to attach to the wire to pull it firmly together.
Step 12: Securing the Moss Pole
Get four zip ties and use them to secure your moss pole roughly 10 squares apart. How many you use will depend on the width and height of your pole.
Step 13: Add More Zip Ties as Needed
Reinforce your chicken wire structure by adding more zip ties in between the original four. The more zip ties you use, the more secure the structure will end up being. If you decide to build multiple poles at one time, you may find yourself cutting back on how many you use to conserve them for the next project.
Step 14: Cut the Zip Ties
Get your wire cutters snip off the hanging ends of your zip ties once you get them as tight as you can. Leaving these plastic tails hanging will look unattractive.
Step 15: Plug More Moss Into any Holes
Take a look at your moss pole and see if there are any areas that look bare. If you see them, you can easily poke more moss into these spots to help fill them in, including along the top and bottom.
Step 16: Find Space for the Pole
Once you’re satisfied with how your moss pole looks, you can look around in the pot for the perfect spot to attach it without damaging your plant.
Step 17: Put the Moss Pole Into the Planter
Now that you finished this DIY moss pole tutorial, you can take your finished product and carefully add it to your container. You may consider emptying the pot of all of the potting soil, placing the pole, and then backfilling around it. This can help to ensure it’s sturdy without worrying about damaging the plant roots.
This is also a great chance to take a look at your plant’s roots and ensure they’re healthy. You can add fresh potting soil to the mix to introduce more nutrients to encourage quick growth, and you can apply a light fertilizer. When you finish, refill the pot with soil.
Step 18: Attach your Climbing Plants
Now it’s time to attach your plants to the moss pole. You can do this with a bit of string or cloth, or you can loosely use zip ties. Eventually, your plants will take off and cling to the pole by itself, and you can remove your initial support system. However, you want to guide them in the beginning.
Step 19: Water
Some people claim that you have to regularly water your moss pole while others don’t as they claim that the plants will attach much quicker to a drier medium. We like to water the moss pole every few days to keep it consistently moist so your plant has a constant water source. You can also add liquid fertilizer every few watering sessions to keep both the plant and the moss healthy and encourage fast growth. Whatever you decide, just stick to a schedule.
How to Care for a Moss Pole
You can allow the moss pole to dry out, but it’s a good idea to get it on a consistent watering schedule so your plants have access to moisture.
To look their best, moss poles require ongoing maintenance. You want to try and keep it consistently moist through watering down or misting the pole. You can water down by pouring water at the top of the pole and allowing gravity to pull it to the bottom. This will also help encourage your plants to secure themselves to the moss so they have access to water.
Once your plant attaches to the pole, you don’t want to separate the moss from the roots as this can cause a lot of damage to your plant. So, once the plant outgrows the current moss pole, you should add onto it by extending it at the top instead of trying to bring in a whole new pole. When you repot your plant, you’ll need to transfer the moss pole along with the plant.
- It’s very helpful to mist your plants often or pour water down from the top of the pole when you want to water the plants to ensure everything gets watered. Most aroids will adore the extra humidity.
- As the plant’s roots start to bind to the pole, you can remove the support system. Continue adding more to the top of the pole to continue training your plants’ vertical growth habit.
- When the plant outgrows the current pole, you can extend it by binding a new one onto the old one and repeating the attaching process. You can also allow the plant to drape back down to the floor.
- If the plant outgrows the pot, you’ll repot it and bring the moss pole with you to the new container.
- If you ever have to remove the moss pole, do so very carefully and slowly to avoid damaging the plant’s roots and causing a health decline.
Extending Your Moss Pole
To extend the pole, start by measuring the circumference of the existing setup. Take these measurements and lay out this exact amount of chicken wire or mesh and cut it. Form a loose cylindrical shape like you did the first time you made one. Wrap your cylinder around the top of the existing moss pole. You will want it to overlap roughly three squares or so. Use your PVC coated wire or zip ties to secure the new portion around the perimeter of the old one.
Next, start packing in moist sphagnum moss down into your new cylinder. Make sure that you pack it down firmly at the bottom where the older moss meets the new extension. As you fill the cylinder, use your wire or zip ties to stitch the cylinder together every six inches or so until you run out of wire at the top. When you finish, go back to where the new and old moss poles meet and add the new pole. Add more support if needed to ensure it stays upright.
Moss Pole Uses
So, now that you know how to make a moss pole, how can you use it? The way it helps your plant will depend on which plant you want to use it with. For example, if you have a Philodendron with thin vines, you’ll have to figure out how to carefully attach these vines to the pole. But, if you have a Monstera with thicker stems, all you’ll have to do is ensure that you get those stems as close to the pole as you can. To grow your plant on a moss pole, you’ll need the pole, your climbing plant of choice, and velcro strips or gardening tubes.
The goal of using a moss pole with your houseplant is to ensure that the plant touches the moss as much as possible. Using velcro strips is a great way to attach your plant to the pole for support until the roots latch onto the moss. If you want to attach a plant with much thinner vines, make sure you work very carefully to prevent damaging the vines when you attach them. Make sure you attach them loosely instead of tightly binding them as this can snap the vine.
As the plants grow, you’ll have to keep binding your plant to the pole. You’ll continuously guide the plant to attach to the pole and grow upwards as much as you want. Over time, the plant will learn to grow up the pole by itself, especially if it’s a plant with air roots.
Pothos and Philodendron plants will start to grow roots that they use to latch onto the pole and anything else they can reach. These are plants that will quickly learn how and where to grow so you won’t have to guide them for long. Monstera plants grow a little more slowly, so you’ll need more time to teach it to grow upwards. Once the Monstera starts to grow up the pole, you won’t have to do much more to guide it.
Creating your own moss pole is a nice, quick DIY project that is very easy to do, and you can even bring the kids in and have them create smaller ones. Just make sure you supervise them once they start to use the wire cutters. This is a must-have structure for climbing plants because you want to give them over opportunity to mature and grow larger and fuller.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.