Mounted Tropical Plant Care: How to Grow Epiphytic Tropical Plants
In the home, the most familiar way of keeping a plant is potted in a planter. But the possibilities for indoor plant arrangements are quite broad, especially when you introduce the idea of mounting plants. Suddenly, wall space becomes plant space!
We mount a wide array of tropical plants to cork, using sphagnum moss and a touch of soil. The plants we select are capable of growing epiphytically (from other trees), as well as terrestrially (from the ground). This means that they are capable of surviving without much soil, and with a bit of special care, will vine and climb around your walls!
How to Care for Mounted Epiphytic Houseplants
The vining tropicals we use are tolerant of a wide variety of light conditions. As a general rule, place your mount where it will receive bright, indirect light, keeping it shielded from the direct sun.
Mounted tropicals can be placed outside for spring and summer, as long as temperatures do not fall below 50 degrees and the plants are kept away from direct sun. They will require more frequent watering when placed outdoors.
Water your mount once the sphagnum moss protecting the roots is dry to the touch but not crispy, and the soil around the base of the plant feels just moist -- approximately once every one-two weeks in spring and summer, and once or twice per month in winter. Semi-succulent tropicals like Hoya species are tolerant of slightly less water. All will wilt slightly when thirsty, but should recover quickly.
Vining tropicals appreciate periodic misting, especially when placed in especially dry environments (heaters in winter, near windows in summer). Remember - since your plant does not have a lot of soil to retain moisture, they will dry out faster than your potted plants.
Water your vining cork mount by fully submerging it in a bowl or sink of room-temperature water and allowing it to soak for 15-20 minutes. To ensure the moss is saturated, place it plant-side down in the water.
After watering, Gently press the root ball to allow excess water to drain, and drip dry before rehanging.
How much is too much?
If you notice stems turning brown and mushy at the base, you’re over-watering your epiphytic tropical. Reduce watering until plant shows sign of recovery. Plants placed in a dim, humid locations typically need less frequent watering.
How little is too little?
If you notice stems puckering and becoming brown and crispy, or if leaf tips and lower leaves turn yellow or brown, you may be under-watering your plant. Try to increase watering and misting until plant shows signs of recovery - but do take care not to over-water. Plants placed in a bright, dry location typically need more frequent watering.
Specific Guidelines by Species
Here are specific light and water guidelines for our most commonly used species:
Philodendron: Place in med-bright indirect light. Shield from direct sun. Tolerant of low light, but will produce smaller foliage. South, East or North exposures are best. Water when just moist, or when leaves show slight wilt.
Scindpasus (aka Satin pothos): Identical in care to its cousin, the philodendron. Place in med-bright indirect light. Shield from direct sun. Tolerant of low light, but will produce smaller foliage. South, East or North exposures are best. Water when just moist, or when leaves show slight wilt.
Hoya: Requires brighter light than Philodendron and Scindapsus, and tolerates some direct sun (though should be shielded from too much). South or East exposures are best. Slightly more drought tolerant - Water when nearly dry, or when leaves show slight pucker.
Rhipsalis (and other Jungle Cacti): These plants prefer bright, indirect light, but can tolerate lower light levels with reduced watering. These cacti can dry out completely before the next watering. Reduce watering in the winter with lower temperatures and shorter days.