Moss poles can be a confusing and sometimes controversial topic. Some growers swear by them, and others choose to go without them. So you may be left wondering—“are moss poles really necessary for my monstera?” and “what is the purpose of a moss pole?” Here’s everything you need to know so you can make an informed decision.
What Is a Moss Pole?
A moss pole is a sturdy stick or pole that is covered in moss (usually sphagnum moss), and is used to support climbing plants, encouraging them to grow upwards.
Why Some Plants Need Moss Poles
Epiphytic climbing plants use their aerial roots to grow up trees and larger plants in their natural environment. These plants often grow in the forest understory, so they climb towards the light as they mature. Their aerial roots support their growth, absorbing nutrients and water from the debris around them as the plant climbs upwards. When grown indoors as houseplants, moss poles provide an opportunity for houseplant owners to mimic the natural environment of their climbing houseplants. Specifically, the plant's aerial roots can absorb water and micronutrients just like they would in their natural environment.
Moss poles are not absolutely necessary for houseplants, and many climbing plants will do well without them. However, providing climbing plants with a support such as a moss pole will result in larger, stronger leaves and more vigorous growth that likely won’t be achieved otherwise.
Moss Poles for Monsteras
Monsteras are epiphytes with a climbing growth habit and they do well when grown on a moss pole indoors. Monsteras grown on a moss pole will grow larger leaves with more fenestrations than monsteras that are grown as houseplants without a moss pole. While moss poles are beneficial for indoor monsteras, these tropical plants can grow well without them as well. Ultimately, whether you want to add a moss pole to your monstera’s growing environment is up to you.
If you choose not to add a moss pole to your monstera, just be aware that as the plant matures and grows taller, it may not hold itself up very easily as these plants are designed to vertically climb. You can manage the size of your monstera by cutting back new growth and propagating it, or you can use a moss pole alternative to support its growing stem.
How to Add a Moss Pole
Moss poles can be purchased from some nurseries, garden centers, specialty plant stores, or you can make your own at home. Once you have a moss pole, it can be added to your monstera’s pot by pushing the pole down into the soil at the base of the plants stem. Push it down far enough that it is held in place by the soil—remember that it will be supporting the weight of the monstera over time! Then, using twist ties, string, or zip ties, secure the stem of your monstera to the moss pole so that the aerial roots or nodes of the plant are in contact with the moss. As the monstera grows, its aerial roots will begin to grow into the moss but until that point it needs to be manually secured to the pole. You can add a moss pole to your monstera’s pot at any time, but if you want to get a head start, do it when the plant is young and has just begun to grow aerial roots.
Alternatives to a Moss Pole
If you don’t like the look of moss poles, can’t find one near you, or would just prefer to use something else there are a couple of different alternatives. The best option would be to use a large natural wood stick or slab of wood, as monsteras grow up tree trunks in their natural environment. You can also use a metal or bamboo trellis to support your monstera as it grows taller, although this option won’t encourage the same type of vigorous growth that a moss pole will since it won’t provide moisture or nutrients to the plant’s aerial roots.