Ever go to the nursery and find everything you want but not what you need? After several trips to various nurseries or hardware stores, I failed to come away with a support pole for my soon-to-be-sprawling little Monstera plant. So I decided to make one!
Welcome to the (wannabe) Jungle
To start from the beginning – well almost, let’s start from the transplanting – I decided to move my year-old Monstera aka Swiss Cheese Plant nee Cheese Plant alt Monstera deliciosa from its too-small ceramic pot into a gigantic 20 gallon one I had bought for a citrus tree but determined to be too big for that purpose. My secret wish is to have this plant take over our sunroom, creating an Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom jungle-like environment. Whether it will ever get there in this less-than-jungle-like climate is questionable, but it’s worth a shot! The huge pot was a good start, but I needed a good support to get the plant growing anywhere but on the floor. And so I started my search.
Before I even began to look for readymade options, I wondered how I was going to support the support – you know? The soil itself would not be enough to hold the pole up on its own. And factoring in the future weight of the plant, unless the pole is somehow attached to the pot – or a wall, or the ceiling – the support wouldn’t really provide support. And maybe that’s why I never found a readymade product in stores… maybe you have to buy the pot, pole and plant as a unit? It’s a conspiracy…
Anyhow, once I committed to DIY, I used a trusty google image search for examples to guide me. Based on my 5 minutes of in-depth research I decided I could make something with random supplies already in our garage plus some coco coir from the local hardware store.
My DIY Solution
I opted to use the ceiling as the primary support. The pole would hang from a hook and be buried about ¾ foot into the pot soil. To provide a mesh for the roots to cling to, I decided to use a coco coir mat meant for lining baskets.* Once I had this general plan, I assembled the materials and got started.
Step 1: Gather materials
Materials list (some not pictured, whoops!)
- Coco coir liner roll
- 1 x 3 cedar deck board
- Short length of chain for hanging
- 2 eye screws (see note at Step 5)
- Scissors or utility knife
- Measuring tape
- Staple gun
- Power drill + bits
- Metal snips (optional, to clip the chain)
- Saw (power saw or hand saw)
Step 2: Measure for Board and Coir Length
Place your pot in its new forever home. Determine how tall you want your pole to be above the plant soil, then add a few inches to the measurement (in my case, about 8) for the amount that will be buried in the pot. The pole doesn’t have reach all the way to the bottom of the pot, just enough so that the surrounding soil prevents it from moving too much. In my case the pole sits about 2-3 inches above the bottom, and has a total length 7 feet.
At the top end, you’ll want at least a few inches clearance from the ceiling for the chain. The clearance can vary, but shorter the chain, the less potential there is for the pole to move wildly off perpendicular as the plant starts climbing. The clearance on mine is 5 inches. If you have a really tall ceiling and a short board/pole, you’ll probably want to anchor the pole to a wall (if you do this, I’d love to hear how you did it in the comments!)
Once you have the pole length and rough spacing from the ceiling, measure how much vertical length should be covered in coir. You don’t want the coir to touch the soil – it will wick up moisture and look icky, and potentially rot or grow mold over time. The coir on my pole sits about 8 inches above soil level.
Step 3: Cut Board/Pole and Coir
Cut the board/pole to your determined length. I used a chop saw but you can use a hand saw. The cut doesn’t have to be perfect. If it’s crooked just bury the janky end in the pot an orient the factory cut edge toward the ceiling. I don’t have photos of this part, but it’s pretty straightforward – mark the length with a pencil and cut. Feel free to sand it a bit if you are splinter-prone.
Roll out the coir mat on a large flat surface and place your trimmed pole on top. I oriented the pole along the roll lengthwise so I’d have one long piece of coir, but you could also cut multiple shorter sections if you don’t want to be left with remnants. First cut the width (wrap), then cut the height (vertical length). I eyeballed the width that the coir needed to be cut. You basically want the cut coir to just meet at the back of the pole. You get it. You can also do multiple layers, but I decided to start with one. See step four for pics!
Step 3: Staple Coir to Pole
Start with the ceiling end. Line the coir up flush to the end of the pole, then staple both the left and right flaps to the pole. Then move about 6 inches down and staple both the left and right again, making sure the coir is taught between the staples and that the seam is centered in the back of the pole. Continue to add staples every 6 – 8 inches or so, alternating left and right down the length of the pole. It will be gappy at this point. Once you are done and everything looks good, go back and staple the heck out of the seam to close it up completely.
There are probably other stapling sequences that work well – this one worked for me. If however, for example, you staple the left side all in one go, then staple the right, you could end up with some puckers where the coir not lying flat.
Step 5: Drill holes and install hooks
Next, drill a small pilot hole in the top end of the pole and screw in one of the hooks. You can then position the pole in the planter, eyeballing where the hole for the ceiling hook should be drilled, or get all engineery and measure the distance from the wall based on the desired location of the pole in the pot. The pole should sit in the pot just slightly off center toward the wall. Mark the location on the ceiling, drill the pilot hole and screw in the hook
Note: If you have a plywood ceiling like we do in our sunroom, a screw hook is just fine. If you are dealing with a drywall ceiling, you’ll want to use one of these toggle bolt hooks. Just make sure the loop of your chain is big enough to fit over whatever hook you use!
Step 6: Install
Next, attach a length of chain to the ceiling hook. Orient bottom of the coir pole inside the pot and attach the pole’s hook to the at the appropriate distance from the ceiling, which you measured in step one. As shown in the photo, I hung the pole first then snipped the excess chain with metal snips. You can also use 2 pairs of pliers to open a link in the chain and remove the excess.
Full disclosure, I installed my coir pole after I repotted my Monstera, so I had to dig a small hole in the dirt behind the plant to do the installation. You can do it that way if your transplant is recent, but the install might be easier without a plant in the pot!
Step 7: Marvel at Your Engineering Prowess
Nice work! Go ahead and transplant your climbing plant (Monstera or otherwise) into the pot if it’s not already there, making sure to compact the soil enough to provide a decent hold on the post end. If your Monstera has aerial roots looking for a home, you can use a Phillips screwdriver to poke holes in the coir then weave in the roots. You’ll have to do this again as the plant grows and puts out more aerial roots. If you have a different kind of climbing vine, you probably can just let it do its thing.
Let me know if you tried this process and how it worked out for you in the comments! I’m also happy to answer any questions – I didn’t take as many photos as I wish I had so some instructions might be a bit muddy (good thing I’m not a technical writer). If anything isn’t clear I’m happy to explain!
Hope this is helpful to you and as always, thanks for stopping by!
* I do think the open texture of moss might make it a better match for Monstera aerial roots, but it could be messy, and I’m willing to help things along by needling the fat roots into the coir mesh once in a while.