Monstera delicious and Monstera adansoni, two of 48 species in the Arum family, are vining aroids, best known for their fenestrated leaves, tall stems, and long, aerial roots.
If you’ve ever grown a Monstera, especially the large delicious, you may have observed it droop under its own weight, without support. This can lead to broken stems and exposure to pests and diseases.
Successfully growing Monstera aroids indoors includes providing sturdy, upright support for them, as they grow. The best way to achieve this is with a moss pole for Monstera.
Why You Should Use A Moss Pole For Monstera?
In the wild, all Monstera varieties have naturally evolved to wind their tendrils around the broad trunks and branches of established, nearby trees. Here, they thrive in dappled sunlight and high humidity.
These environmental factors enable proper photosynthesis and ensure sufficient moisture levels for their exposed roots.
While conditions in your home (or your hardiness zone) may be a bit different, the growing habits and natural tendencies of your Monstera will be the same.
Moss poles closely mimic the textures and shapes these plants have adapted to climbing and thriving on. Moist coco coir or sphagnum moss, bound with jute twine, simulates moss-tufted trees and provides ideal support.
By encouraging upward growth, you’re ensuring the health, beauty, and longevity of your Monstera for years to come.
Do Monsteras Need A Pole
In addition to broken stems, without proper support, Monstera often exhibits “leggy” growth as they seek out light in shadowed spaces. Moss poles allow the newest leaves, growing from the top, to more easily reach the light, bolster photosynthesis and maintain a bushier appearance throughout the plant.
Monsteras, without the support of a moss pole, may also start growing to one side, typically in the direction of sunlight. This behavior results in unbalanced growth and, in time, causes the plant to fall over.
By using a moss pole and positioning your Monstera in an area where it will receive lots of indirect, filtered light, the plant will resume its natural, upright growing pattern.
With easier access to light and a healthy support structure, your Monstera will actually show signs of faster growth and more vibrant color.
Will Monstera Attach To Moss Pole
When a houseplant is allowed to follow its natural instincts and growing habits, that plant will thrive. Letting it struggle in unfamiliar conditions can sadly lead to its demise.
For Monstera, in particular, having access to something sturdy, with a recognizable form and texture, will trigger thousands of years of evolutionary adaptation. Long, delicate vines will attach themselves to that structure and start happily climbing toward the light.
As your Monstera matures, you may see long, aerial roots laboring against the pull of gravity. You can offer this extra support by loosely tying a bit of floral wire, just under a node and around the moss pole.
I’ll cover the best way to guide Monteras up a moss pole, in a moment.
When To Use A Moss Pole For Monstera
When caring for Monstera adansonii successfully, it can mature to 8ft tall. The Monstera deliciosa is larger in comparison and can reach a staggering 15ft in height by 8ft wide. With a leaf span of a whopping 18” wide.
However, freshly propagated (or newly purchased) plants start out quite small. Making this the perfect time to add a moss pole. This will provide all new growth with something comfortable to climb on, from the very beginning. Young plants are easier to train up moss poles, as well.
Of course, you can train a mature Monstera, too. It just takes a bit more care not to disturb its subsoil roots and patience as your plant adjusts to it.
The best way to introduce moss poles to mature Monstera is by repotting it.
How To Use A Moss Pole With Monstera
Whether you’re working with a newly propagated or mature plant, you’ll want to carefully place your moss pole right in the center of the pot. This will ensure that every root tendril has equal access to it.
Carefully remove your plant from its pot and remove the soil that surrounds the roots.
Gently nestle the bottom end of the pole and the roots, together. Then, re-insert both moss poles and plant back into the pot, cover with fresh potting soil, and water well.
Moss poles are prized for their moist, mossy texture. It’s no surprise then, that these features will need to be maintained for the benefit of your plants. If you normally mist your Monstera, this can help keep the moss or coco coir sufficiently moist.
If your moss pole completely dries out, it’s best to remove it and soak it. If this isn’t feasible, because your Monstera is firmly attached to it, pour water directly over the pole, from the top, the next time you water the plant.
Training Monstera To Climb A Moss Pole
Monstera will instinctively climb a moss pole on its own, once it gets the hang of it. But, If your climber has never seen one, a little loving guidance from you will go a long way toward its independence.
For small plants, you’ll want to begin training as soon as their aerial roots are roughly six inches long. Use soft ties, like yarn or cotton string for this, so as not to damage the outer skin.
On mature plants, look for the longest aerial roots and vines. Gently wind these around the pole in a spiral fashion and secure them every few inches. Because mature roots are tougher, you can secure them with floral pins. As well as yarn or cotton string.
Moss Pole Basics
Moss poles aren’t complicated, just a few simple considerations are needed. The most basic of which is its construction. Make it easy (and fun!) to make one yourself, to accommodate the unique needs and shape of your Monstera.
- A moss pole made of natural materials, bamboo, sphagnum moss, coco coir, and jute twine is ideal. These contribute to optimal functionality and visual appeal.
- Moss poles should be placed in the very center of the pot, with your Monstera slightly off-center, right next to the pole.
- Sphagnum moss or coco coir should remain consistently moist. Dry moss poles lead to dry and cracked aerial roots that become vulnerable to pests and disease.
- Moss poles should be of adequate height and thickness to accommodate a Monstera’s mature size.
Do You Have To Soak A Moss Pole
One question I get asked quite frequently: “Is it necessary to take out and soak a moss pole?”
My answer: Taking it out isn’t mandatory. The bigger plants get, the harder it will be to remove them. The goal is to provide proper structure and hydration for your plants.
I find that my methods for this change with the seasons. In our hot, humid summers, I only have to mist my moss poles. But, in winter, when the heater is running 24/7, drying everything out, soaking is often necessary.
You can either remove a pole – if you’re dealing with smaller plants, soak it for 15 minutes, squeeze it a bit, then return it to the pot. Or, as you water a large Monstera, pour the water directly over your moss pole.
How Thick Should A Moss Pole Be?
Whether you buy one or make one, the objective is to use a pole with an average thickness of ½ – 1”. This should be its final thickness after the twine has been wrapped around to secure the water-retaining material.
You may be thinking, “A ½” pole isn’t going to hold up my giant Monstera”. You’re right! Most Monstera aficionados will adjust the size of their moss poles (or add a 2nd one) to accommodate the maturing size of their plants, using floral pins that are easy to remove and adjust.
For tiny plants, smaller poles are actually easier to acclimate to, if you think of them as “training wheels”.
How Tall Should A Moss Pole Be?
Poles of various heights are also available. These will accommodate the ever-evolving stages of Monstera growth, in the same way as those with differing widths.
Homemade poles can be lengthened by adding a new bamboo piece to the top, wrapping new moss or coir around the point of connection, and securing everything with new twine.
Most store-bought moss poles have a fixed height of 36” – 42”. Yet, there are models that come with the built-in option to extend.
The formula for determining a sufficient moss pole height is based on the current size of your plant and the depth of its pot. The base should sink 6-12in into the soil and be 1-2ft taller than your plant.
What Can You Use Instead Of A Moss Pole
If a standard moss pole doesn’t work for you, be it due to price, availability, or unconventional use, there are alternatives.
To satisfy the need for sturdy construction, bamboo canes or tree branches make wonderful, organic options. PVC or metal piping could also be used, but there is a risk of them leaching unhealthy elements into your soil.
The downside to all of the above is that they don’t offer any means of hydration for a Monstera’s aerial roots. You’d need to mist them quite frequently to prevent them from drying and cracking.
Common moss poles use sphagnum as their moisture-retaining element. But, this material has become unsustainable, in recent years, due to over-harvesting. Coco coir has since taken the lead as a more viable resource.
Coco Coir Pole
Coco coir comes from coconut husks and is a quickly renewable, organic material. A healthy coconut tree produces a substantial amount of coir every 30 days, versus the 220 years it takes for peat and sphagnum to grow back.
Moss is inherently more moisture-retentive and can release nutrients into the soil as it breaks down.
But, the purpose of a moss pole is to provide support and hydration above. For that, coco coir poles offer more than enough.
Another advantage of coir is that due to its slightly lesser moisture-retaining qualities, it’s also rot and mold-resistant.
My final suggestion for moss pole alternatives is a sturdy, well-constructed trellis that can carry the weight of a mature Monstera.
As with anything, moss or coir poles and trellises have their pros and cons. So, it really depends on what your goals are and the level of care you’re prepared to provide for your Monstera.
The most important aspect is keeping its aerial roots hydrated since trellises are not made to accommodate this.
I’ve made trellises from branches I’ve removed from felled trees. Bamboo or wood stakes work well, too. Just make sure that the wood you use hasn’t been chemically treated or it may harm your plants.