Okay so you’ve gotten your moss pole and your plant is THRIVING. It’s been a few months, maybe a few years since you first repotted your baby and it has officially outgrown the moss pole.
It is so rewarding to see all of the amazing growth that has occurred over the previous months but now you are asking yourself these puzzling questions…
What do you do once your plant has outgrown its moss pole?!
Can you take your houseplant off its moss pole?
Will taking your houseplant off its moss pole be damaging!?
In today’s blog we are going to help settle your mind from these (not so) scary questions. We will talk about when you’ll know it’s time to take your indoor tropical plant off its moss pole, how to take your plant off the moss pole, and what to do if your houseplant has outgrown its moss pole and you DON’T want to take it off.
So hang tight, and brace yourself for the answers you’ve been asking for: What do you do when your houseplant outgrows its moss pole!?
There comes a time in any plant parent’s journey where they have to think about what to do with the new growth. We might upgrade to a larger pot, trim the roots to encourage foliage length or chop and prop to make clones of your favourite green super star. These moments are perfect to decide what to do with your moss pole!
Any plant that has outgrown the height of its pole is the perfect contestant for an upgrade. Plants that have grown so long that they now drag across the floor are also perfect for a large moss pole.
So let's say your plant is already secure on its pole and it's been growing steadily, but you are ready to add some more height. Perhaps upgrading from a 30” bendable moss pole to a 42” bendable moss pole.
You’ve probably noticed that there are little roots that have dug into the side of the moss. These are called aerial roots. We talk a little more about aerial roots and the benefits of moss poles in our blog post “Which indoor houseplants to moss poles help”.
A big worry that often arises when asking this question is, will taking your houseplant off its moss pole damage the aerial roots? And will your plant die if you damage the aerial roots ?
Although it may not seem like it, aerial roots will grow back quite fast if damaged. You can certainly cut off the aerial roots without damaging your plant. They will grow back just as fast as they got there in the first place and a good chop may encourage new growth depending on the plant!
What are aerial roots you ask?
Well, aerial roots are the things that grow from the stem of your plant. They seem to grow quite randomly to the unfamiliar eye but the purpose behind their growth is super cool!
Above Image: Aerial roots growing into Mossify moss pole.
Aerial roots begin to grow from the stem of plants, above the ground. Plants with aerial roots are known as air plants because they thrive while climbing through the air by using taller trees as support. Aerial roots are some plants' natural way of finding support to climb on. That is also why moss poles are great for indoor tropical houseplants.
Plants that grow in tropical areas or swampy areas typically have aerial roots. Think monsteras, jade, orchids, pothos, philodendrons, ivy and rubber trees. All of these plants have aerial roots and in the right indoor growing environment, you will start to see them appear!
If plants had arms, they would be the aerial roots. And just like arms, the aerial roots help collect water and stored nutrients from their moss poles like our hands would bring food to our mouths. So yes, aerial roots do serve an amazing purpose, but back to the question of “will damaging the aerial roots damage my plant?” no, your plant will be fine.
Think about the jungle, if an animal was running through a wall of vines, hanging off the trees and bushes, it would rip them apart and pull the plants from the trees. If ripping away the aerial roots (which are what attach the plant to the tree) killed the plant, we wouldn't have much lush green vines today. They would all have been trampled, ripped from the trees, and natural selection would have chosen the more resilient species.
Instead, these plants grow again and can establish a root system in the ground, even when broken off and damaged suddenly. That’s one of the things I love most about plants. Their resiliency.. Now not all plants are created equal, that's for sure. And some have a more difficult time adapting to an indoor environment than others, but that being said, if your houseplant has well adapted to your home, there is no need to worry about chopping off its aerial roots to upgrade it to another moss pole. It will grow aerial roots back.
So what’s the best practice when it comes to taking your plant off its moss pole? And why would we take a plant off its moss pole?
Some reasons why we would take a houseplant off it’s moss pole are that the plant is simply getting way too big and has completely overgrown the size of the pole. You might want to expand by swapping out a 30” for a 42” or you may want to upgrade your moss pole from a regular straight pole to a bendable pole by Mossify.
Whatever the reason, the practice is the same.
Grab a pair of sharp shears or scissors and get to work! Start chopping and don’t be afraid! Plants are extremely resilient and most can withstand some significant chopping.
If your goal is to propagate the plant, remember to cut on a slight angle to help deliver as much water as possible to the plant, and thereby encouraging new root growth. Swapping out moss poles is the PERFECT time to propagate.
Another reason why you may want to remove your current moss pole is to swap it to a coir pole! Some people really enjoy the flexibility of the coir pole and enjoy creating a new design for their indoor garden. Coir poles provide that flexibility and can easily add a quick change to your current plant shelf!
We have an awesome blog that you can read about how to know if a coir pole or a moss pole is best for your plant. It outlines the similarities, differences and everything else you need to know about coir poles and moss poles.
Another great resource if you haven’t already seen it, is our repotting video.
Lucas helps teach you the best repotting practice. It’s a great refresher if it’s been a while since you've installed a moss pole, or if it's your first time and you’re ready to nail the basics.
You can check it out here! :
All in all, plants are going to grow. If you're doing a good job, they are going to outgrow your moss pole. At first, this may seem like quite a predicament, but once you’ve established that you aren't going to kill your plant by snipping off its aerial roots, you are a-ok.
Do not stress about it, they will grow right back into the new pole!
Remember to have fun and enjoy the process! There is nothing else like plant parenthood!
Take your time, and happy planting !