More about Moss

HerbAugust 3, 2005

A short while ago I saw, in a local store that sells farm supplies, horse tack, dog food & such, some bags of moss. Not dried peat moss, but damp, living moss. I nearly bought some, but it looked like one of the coarse, shaggy varieties & I'd rather have something more appealing.

It induced me to make a Google search to see if there were other sources & it produced this site. Their photo gallery is especially interesting -

Click here for their photo gallery

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ltfuzz(Ctrl CA)

Great site for browsing and their information is interesting too! Thanks for sharing Herb.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 12:42PM
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Herb, I have come across Moss Acres information that I was sent by a friend in NY. The product range is fascinating (though a little expensive?) Are those soft, moist hummocks of moss not just the perfect subject for quality photographs.


    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 4:19PM
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MrNorth4(Sweden ZOne 1)

Interesting!! However, I need to grow shade before I can have any hope of growing moss :)

nice link!!


    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 6:56PM
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Graham & Henrik -

One of their pages says - "Mosses get all their nutrients from the air and rainfall, so no fertilizing is necessary." All? I'm not a botanist, so maybe somebody who is - you Graham? - can confirm or refute this, but for the moment I'm a bit doubtful whether it's correct.

I agree that their mosses deserve to be photographed at very high quality. They've certainly given me the urge to try harder to encourage moss in our garden.

But their prices are way more than I want to pay, so I'm attempting to cultivate my own. I've begun by standing a big pot under the deck, filling it with a mix of compost, dried peat moss & Vermiculite, putting on the surface any likely looking bits of moss that I find, and keeping it watered & covered by clear plastic. So far the dozen or so patches of moss seem to be thriving.


Click to see a close-up of one of the patches

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 8:55PM
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I don't know how that link from the word 'garden' crept in. I've never heard of Aquatic Plant Depot.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 9:08PM
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edzard(3b Canada)

"Before utilizing moss as part of your shade gardening plans, the soil bed for the moss plants should first be tested to ensure that the pH is between 5.0 and 6.0 (lower is o.k. - 6.5 is max., but not ideal). If necessary, the soil for the moss can easily be amended with our liquid sulfur or aluminum sulfate to lower the pH to the desired range. Once the moss is placed onto the soil, the sections of moss plants must be tamped firmly into position and watered regularly for the first 2-3 weeks. Detailed, yet simplistic transplanting directions are included with each moss order." direct from

I should think this would answer the question Herb.
Besides, our mosses grow on cement and alkali clays pH 8.5 +- rather profusely, and on acid soils. I've heard there is a moss for every type of growing base.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 12:55AM
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Edzard -

Moss Acres' recommendation of a pH value between 5.0 and 6.0 is virtually the same as that of the JOJG. A long article about it in the JOJG (see their issue No.9 (May/June 1999) recommended a value of pH 5.5 - so it is presumably ideal. On the other hand, as you point out, some of our west coast mosses certainly do grow on cement.

I'm also trying to get moss to grow on a lantern roof, using the recipe that Jack posted a few days ago (in my case 1 part potter's clay and 1 part milled sphagnum moss) mixed thoroughly to a consistency of soft putty. He's quite right - the mix sticks to rock, concrete and hypertufa very well. As in the case of the tub, I'm keeping the lantern parts covered in clear plastic so that the clay doesn't dry out.

A further note to everybody about that link to Aquatic Plant Depot that appeared in my earlier posting. The Garden Web have since assured me that it's merely "a new form of advertising iVillage has implemented on all their forums"....


    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 2:45AM
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Herb, et al, in my experience, as Edzard stated different species do have different requirements. Some will grow on an alkaline soil but I think most prefer an acidic base. I have constantly watered areas with an ericacoeus fertliser solution to encourage the growth of Polytrichum. I think this is succesful though again as Edzard suggested any teatment to lower pH would be sufficient. I am not so sure, in my experience, of the 5.5 - 6.0 reccomendation. The Polytrichum which thrives at Tatton Park is in some cases growing on a more acidic soil than this.
As for the botany bit I would say the advice is correct. The microclimate around a moss bed is the key. Soil types can be very variable, growing on pure sand in some cases, as long as the air above the surface is sufficiently cool and moist. Moss does not techically root into a growing medium but lies on the surface. After all when moss grows naturally on a stone or lantern roof there is no substrate to provide nutrition other than that in the air and rainfall.
I was also interested in the information Moss acres give on using the water retention gel. I have previously experimented with this with some success. Particularly with Polytrichum which has upright habit, I brushed the dry granules down into the moss which then swell and hold the irrigation above the soil surface but below the moss surface, the very slow drying and evaporation of the moisture providing damp air to the moss. It seemed to work for me.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 4:52AM
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Jando_1(Zone 5 IL)

Hi all, I tried something a little different to grow moss on two lanterns. It worked on one lantern but not the other. I stripped moss growing on stone and dotted it with goop outdoor glue and glued it on my two lanterns. Since we are in a terrible drought the lantern not near water was a failure. It has been so hot and dry the moss just died, dried up and eventually fell off. (I watered it twice a day and it would dry out in a couple of hours) But the other lantern sits next to my stream and I placed the moss on the side facing north which also faces the stream. The extra humidity must be keeping it alive. I did this in April.

Just in case your wondering, the glue pealed off the other lantern where the moss died easily with no visable damage to the stone.

Just thought I'd share my results.

Cheers Jando

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 7:10PM
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June, Great minds think alike :) - I've even hot-glued moss onto artificial rock for a quick public display... but as you found out, the key to continued success is a combination of shade & moisture

Herb, The clay/humus also provides this, as well as an anchoring medium for the moss rhizoid on an exposed surface, and the moss in turn (once consolidated) stops the mix from erosion..

I would be hesitant to cover in plastic sheeting though, as you will encourage fungi to invade the moss and turn it into a dark slime... I've used pieces of insect mesh / shade cloth to cover newly mossed areas on awkward sites, which provides a little extra shade as well as aeration to the moss.. and it doesn't impede watering either..


    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 8:35PM
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The key to rooted plants' health is what is going on in the area immediately around the roots and the foliage. Even a cactus growing in an alkaline desert may have its roots in a pocket of neutral or even acid leaf mold. Night temperatures are as important as day temperatures.

When it comes to mosses, I think Edzard is correct about different varieties for many conditions. After years of testing media, water quality, pH, temperature, light, and humidity, my opinion is - as Jando and Niwashi-san have offered - it is all about the microclimate. And I think it is more the extremes of humidity and subsurface moisture that makes the greatest difference. If all is right, mosses can thrive in full sun, on freshly disturbed chalk, even in South Texas.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 8:59PM
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Thanks everybody for your opinions & advice.

As a result, I visited several places where I knew there was a lot of moss, to see what sort of conditions my favorite sorts were growing in. I didn't find any of the sort I wanted - e.g. Polytrichum. Evidently they demand, as Edzard indicated, their own rather special bases to grow on.

Instead, virtually all the moss that I found looked very much like the picture, in Schenk's Moss Gardening, (I found the book in the local library!) of Homalothecium sericeum. It was growing everywhere - on rocks, on the ground, on tree roots, in the sun & in the shade. It's the sort that has volunteered, in a few places, in our garden.

It's made me suspect that - at least here in Victoria - Homalothecium sericeum may be less demanding than most. So since there's lots of it around, I'm going to see if I have beginner's luck with it..... Herb

Click to see Homalothecium sericeum

    Bookmark   August 6, 2005 at 1:53PM
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Mosses definitely add a special patina, and 'painting' your pictures with them can become addictive :)
Working with miniatures over the years, I've even experimented with shearing certain varieties of fern moss to produce a fine turf-like quality - not something I would do on a larger scale..


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 6, 2005 at 7:39PM
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Allshade(z6 MA)

Wow, Jack, that is a beautiful miniature garden!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 11:37AM
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Jack -

I don't know whether you've also posted that picture in the Bonsai forum/gallery but it's certainly worthy of inclusion. If the folks there haven't seen it I'm sure they'd appreciate it's being shown to them.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 11:55AM
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Yes,Jack, I am very glad you have shared this little miniature gem!!!!


    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 5:28PM
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Why, thank you all for your kind words! I sometimes imagine people are thinking: "Oh no - here comes Jack and his bl**dy hakoniwa again - please make it stop!!" heheh

Herb - I did post photos on the bonsai forum a while back, and a few said they'd like to have a go at it... but I was really surprised at the number of lurkers on these forums, and the email I received over that period asking for 'instructions' :))

I may start a new "pretty pictures" thread today (if you can stand it) and post a few new ones..


    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 8:31PM
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Jack -

I can certainly stand it & look forward to your doing just that. I can't speak for the hillbilly element.....


    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 10:49PM
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sydney_b(z5 Nebraska)

I'd take a gander too. :)

    Bookmark   August 20, 2005 at 4:12PM
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pnsgrits(8bFL Pensacola)

Since Hurricane Ivan much of my moss has died. Does anyone have access to zoysia tenuifolia? I have tried
everyplace I can think of here in the southeast with no
luck and the nurseries in California want $200.00 to ship
a one square foot piece. Any suggestion..?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 5:09PM
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PMS, I would be looking into obtaining seed from seed merchants..
[In the mid 70's no one here in Oz carried Pinus thunbergii... every nurseryman (except for a couple of bonsai nurseries) baulked when you mentioned Japanese Black Pine ...seed was the only way to grow them..]

Perhaps that's an easier/cheaper way to start your Zoysia ? .. nice choice btw :)


    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 10:02PM
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Scratch that , PNS - - I was thinking of japonica for seed propagation - D'oh!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 2:19AM
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The Zoysia that most closely resembles a moss ground cover is "Emerald", with very fine blades and tight growth. I recommend clipping it at least once per week for that effect. Otherwise, let it clump for a Korean grass look. I don't know where in Florida you are located, but try the site below.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 4:13PM
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