Sphagnum moss pole vs Coir pole. Which one is best for your houseplants?
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I love climbing plants indoors and outdoors, so I often found myself using a “climbing” support. We enter a separate chapter for outdoor plants, especially fruit or vegetable ones. Still, if we talk about decorative indoor plants, you have already heard of the moss and coconut fiber poles. Here you are
in this article, I will share my experience and personal experiences with these posts to help you decide which is best for your climbing plants.
Why a moss or coir pole for your climbing plants?
If you don’t know, a moss pole is a highly effective support structure used in gardening and horticulture to encourage the growth of climbing houseplants.
These posts are typically constructed of wood, bamboo, or metal and are covered with dried moss, sphagnum moss, Spanish moss, or coco coir.
These natural materials provide a structure for the plant to climb and serve as a breeding ground for the plant’s roots.
Some of the more popular plants that thrive when grown using moss poles include monstera (Swiss cheese plant), philodendron, and other climbing plants. In this article, I will focus exclusively on the two main types: the sphagnum moss pole and the coir pole.
Which is better, coco coir pole or sphagnum moss pole?
In the article on the best moss pole for Monstera, I’m going to recommend the coconut fiber pole over a moss pole which is still valid. Still, I start by telling you that this does not mean that it is always the perfect choice, and now I will explain the differences between the two poles and when and why to use one or the other.
Sphagnum moss vs Coco Coir on Philodendron (50 days test)
This video shows how to propagate a Philodendron using two substrates, coco peat, and sphagnum moss.
In this specific case, we see a 50-day test comparing sphagnum moss and coconut fiber, resulting in the coconut fiber generating more roots thanks to its ability to retain more moisture.
The comparison was made because, in the Philippines, where the video was shot, it is not so easy to find sphagnum moss, while coconut fiber is easily available.
Coco Coir Pole
But what is coco coir?
It is no coincidence that we are comparing a sphagnum moss pole with a coconut fiber pole.
We are doing it because, in recent years, the scientific community (A Comparison of Coconut Coir and Sphagnum Peat as Soil-less Media Components for Plant Grow – Utah State University ) has been making comparisons of this type to look for alternative and more renewable resources than those we use now.
Just think that over 62 million tons of coconut are produced yearly for the food and oil industry, but most waste is thrown away, creating serious environmental damage (Coir from Coconut Processing Waste as a Raw Material for Applications beyond Traditional Uses – NC State University).
Hence the need to find an alternative use for all the coconut fiber obtained from the husks. The coconut fiber pole was born out of an environmental need and then found widespread use and acclaim.
(image from NC State University )
Coco Coir Pros and Cons
Coconut coir is a versatile and environmentally friendly soil amendment that is worth considering for your gardening needs. Derived from coconuts’ outer husk, coir is a byproduct of the food industry, making it a readily renewable resource.
The composition of coir is mainly composed of lignocellulosic fibers and pith, known for their strength, durability, and water retention properties.
One of the major benefits of using coconut coir is its neutral pH level. This is beneficial for plants as it allows them to absorb nutrients more easily, promoting healthy growth.
Additionally, coir is an aerating soil amendment, which means that it helps to improve the structure of the soil and promotes better drainage.
This can help prevent waterlogged soil, which can harm plants.
Another benefit of using coconut coir is its water retention capabilities. Coir has a higher water-holding capacity than peat moss, meaning it can retain moisture in the soil for longer periods.
This can be especially beneficial for plants that require consistent moisture levels in order to thrive.
Coconut coir also has a higher cation exchange capacity (CEC) than many other soil amendments. This means that it can hold onto and make more nutrients available to plants.
Coconut fiber is also not very prone to mould, thanks to the high content of lignite.
However, there are some downsides to using coconut coir. It can be harder to find in bulk and is generally shipped from overseas, which can make it more expensive to purchase.
Additionally, older processing methods are used to result in high salt content, but with current processing methods, this is no longer a concern.
By itself, the coconut fiber does not contain nutrients and therefore does not add elements to the plant.
Coconut coir is a valuable addition to any gardener’s toolkit. Its versatility, environmental friendliness, and water retention capabilities make it a great choice for many different types of plants.
While it may be harder to find and more expensive than other soil amendments, the benefits it provides make it a worthwhile investment. And the salt content is not a concern anymore with current processing methods.
As you can see, the qualities are such as to make it one of the favorite products for building a support for climbing plants
(Source: University of Washington)
-Neutral pH is beneficial for plants, promoting healthy growth
-Readily renewable resource derived from the food industry
-Aerates soil and improves drainage, preventing waterlogged soil
-Higher water-holding capacity than peat moss, promoting consistent moisture levels
-Higher cation exchange capacity (CEC), making more nutrients available to plants -Not prone to mold, thanks to the high content of lignite
- Versatility and environmentally friendly
- It can be used for many different types of plants
- A valuable addition to any gardener’s toolkit
- It can be harder to find in bulk
- Generally shipped from overseas, making it more expensive to purchase
- It does not contain nutrients, does not add elements to the plant
- The salt content was sometimes a problem with coir in the past, but current processing methods prevent this issue.
Sphagnum Moss Pole
What is a Sphagnum Moss?
When it comes to Sphagnum moss, we must be careful not to confuse it with its closest relative, namely the Peat Moss.
Though often thought of as the same growing material, Sphagnum Moss and Peat Moss are actually two different parts of the same plant.
Sphagnum Moss is a plant that grows on the surface of soil or bogs and is carefully harvested to ensure its sustainability and conservation of peatlands.
Peat moss, on the other hand, is the layer of decaying water-saturated sphagnum moss that has sunk below the surface, which is not a sustainable practice as it takes thousands of years to form.
Sphagnum Moss boasts many desirable properties for plant growth and has a neutral pH, excellent water retention, and is flexible and soft as a growing material, being made from pure moss with no other plant material.
It is versatile and can be used for planting, basket lining, growing orchids, and as additional growing material in potting soils.
In contrast, peat moss is acidic, high in tannins, contains a blend of organic materials, including moss, decaying plant matter, and dead insects, and is used in pots and garden soils.
Sphagnum Moss Pros and Cons
Sphagnum Moss is a highly sought-after growing material in the gardening world, with many gardeners choosing to use it for its unique properties and benefits.
It has a fibrous structure that helps to aerate the soil, promoting healthy root growth. The ability of Sphagnum Moss to hold moisture when enough water is consistently applied is another great benefit, making it a suitable option for garden plants that need consistent hydration.
The availability of Sphagnum Moss is another advantage, as it is easily accessible and readily available for use in your garden. However, it is important to consider some of the disadvantages of using Sphagnum Moss as well.
Firstly, its acidic nature may not be suitable for all garden plants, as most plants prefer a neutral or slightly alkaline soil pH. Secondly, Sphagnum Moss has a hydrophobic nature, which means that it becomes very difficult to rewet once it dries out.
Another factor to consider is the environmental impact of using Sphagnum Moss.
The process of strip-mining peat to obtain Sphagnum Moss can result in massive environmental and cultural resource damage. It is crucial to consider sustainable harvesting methods and ensure that the Sphagnum Moss you use has been ethically sourced.
In conclusion, while there are some disadvantages to using Sphagnum Moss in your garden, its benefits cannot be ignored. Proper care and consideration of the downsides will help you to make the most of its advantages and improve soil quality, promoting healthy plant growth.
-Aerates soil and promotes healthy root growth
-Hold moisture when enough water is consistently applied
-Easily accessible and readily available
-Not suitable for all garden plants as it is more acidic
-Becomes difficult to rewet once it dries out
-Environmental and cultural resource damage from strip-mining peat
-Important to consider sustainable harvesting methods and ethical sourcing.
Coco coir vs Peat Moss
In this video, Chris explains the controversy over peat moss, a soil amendment often used in gardening but with environmental concerns.
They went for a peat bog walk in Vancouver to explain the background of peat and the problems with peat harvesting.
Peat forms from the decomposition of sphagnum moss over thousands of years, and peat extraction practices are highly disruptive and damage the ecosystem of the peat bogs.
Peatlands are important carbon sinks and hold a lot of carbon, preventing it from being released into the atmosphere. While we use sphagnum moss and not peat moss in our article, the two are close relatives, and this comparison may be worth seeing.
Ok, but in the end, which one to choose for Pole?
When it comes to moss poles, I choose based on situations and opportunities (above all price). On the one hand, I prefer sphagnum moss; it gives me the impression of releasing more nutrients, but if I find the right offer for coir, then I use this one, and I don’t regret it.
Coco coir requires less maintenance, plus I’m doing something good for the environment by recycling this excess fiber.
What is online?
On Amazon, you can find everything you need for your poles.
As for the sphagnum moss, I personally tried this https://amzn.to/3Jq241y, and I found it good. It has proven to be of very good quality both for moss posts and as a substrate.
As for the coconut fiber instead, I tried this one which is of superior quality https://amzn.to/3DtIwFN, and I had a great time.
At this moment in which I write, it is also discounted and therefore absolutely unmissable.