Training Climbing Houseplants

Teaching new indoor plants old tricks

You trained your dog to walk on a leash, your cat to use a litterbox, and your parrot to swear like a sailor. Need another challenge? Train your houseplants.

Wire Supports and Trellises
You can buy wire hoops, topiary forms, and trellises ready made. You can also make your own trellis with bamboo stakes. Or for a rustic look, take a walk over to your nearest tree and collect some twigs. Tie them into a trellis shape with jute or cheat and use glue. After potting the plant, wind the stems around the support. Use plant ties (or twist ties, if youre too pressed for time for another trip to the plant store) to hold the stems in place.

Moss Poles
Plants with aerial roots, like pothos and philodendrons, should be trained up a moss pole. In addition to adding visual interest, many varieties of philodendrons grow larger leaves when trained on a moss pole than in a standard pot. You can buy moss poles ready made or make your own. To make a moss pole, roll wire mesh into a tube and secure it together plant ties work. Cut a pair of bamboo stakes to the diameter of the pot, and poke them through the mesh in an X. Wedge the pole upright in the pot. Fill the pot halfway with soil, and then pack sphagnum moss down the pole. Pot the plants and attach the vines to the moss pole with wires bent into a hairpin shape. (No wire? Try paperclips.) Mist the pole daily and roots will grow into it.

Extra Fun with Climbing Plants
You can train a plant to climb up a wall, over a mantle, or around a window. Run string between nails on your wall, and attach plant stems with plant ties.