Spanish Moss

dogdaysNovember 20, 2002

Hi, I love spanish moss growing in trees. How do I get it started? I read a post saying "if you get some, ball it up with clay and toss high into the tree." My question is where do you get "some"? Do I just use spanish moss? Are there seeds? Any help would be greatly appreciated, I'd love to have some growing in an old Oak tree in my yard. Thanks in advance!

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Spanish moss is a parasitic epiphylium (sp), similar to a bromeliad. It simply hangs in the trees and recieves it's nourishment from the air around it. What you have in the store has been dried and probably would not grow. I don't have any in my trees or I would offer to send you some. Perhaps someone else from south Louisiana or Mississippi could help you out.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2002 at 6:05PM
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I'd love to send you some Spanish Moss problem is LILI did her best to almost stip my live oaks of the moss hanging from them....give me till spring so it can rejuvinate it self seems I'm the lucky one of the family to have spanish moss on our property ..I love to see it hanging and blowing in the wind...Terry

    Bookmark   November 21, 2002 at 8:24AM
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> Spanish moss is a parasitic epiphylium (sp), similar to
> a bromeliad.

Just to clarify... Spanish Moss is an epiphytic bromeliad (same family) but isn't parasitic, that is, it doesn't take any nutrients from the host plant. The only time it might become harmful to the tree is if it gets too heavy... but then you could always use it as an alternative packaging material like they used to.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2002 at 9:00AM
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Sorry, I should have clarified that, not parasitic in the context of taking anything from the tree, but using the tree as host, just a place to hang out. I think I said it recieves its nutrients from the air around it.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2002 at 11:52AM
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That's great, Terry. I'll take you up on that offer in spring. I was wondering if my climate is suitable? I live in Northeast Mississippi Zone 7b.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2002 at 11:24PM
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As far as the area you live in I have no idea but hey we can only try, just another experiments in the garden...Unless someone else knows for sure...just e-mail me in the spring to remind know I'll forget...Terry

    Bookmark   November 24, 2002 at 7:19AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

In southeast Mississippi, it only grows near rivers or bayous. I get the impression that it needs the kind of CONSTANT high humidity that you would have near a body of water. This is just my personal observation.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2002 at 10:20AM
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Interesting...I think you are probably right MissSherry. I've personally never saw ANY more than 100-150 miles from the Gulf coast. I'm not near any body of water, but I think I'll give it a try , as Terry suggests. If only for experiment's sake.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2002 at 8:20PM
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I was reading a Posting earlier that said that it is in the Carolina's. It is still near the water, but it is in a different zone than us isn't it?

    Bookmark   December 21, 2002 at 11:52AM
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There is Spanish Moss growing along I-55 somewhere between Grenada and Memphis. I remember it when I was a kid in the '50s. I was up that way three years ago and it's still there. Also, I was travling I-65 just north of Montgomery AL last weekend and there is some there. In both cases it was around water, boggy area.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2002 at 7:09AM
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Spanish moss grows as far north as coastal Virginia. To relocate it and get it started just pick some off the host plant and move it to its new home. Generally it prefers trees with a scraggly type bark and generally does better near pools of water. Here in Florida it grows anywhere and everywhere, but I think it's because nowhere here is more than 100 miles from a large body of water.


    Bookmark   December 23, 2002 at 11:57AM
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I was just wondering whether or not it was possible to grow Spanish moss in Middle Tennessee. And if so, where could I get some?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2003 at 2:04AM
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greenelbows(z9--so LA)

I have heard it is very sensitive to polution. We don't seem to have nearly as much as we did fifteen or so years ago. I got some growing sometimeback then in my yard just by sort of hanging on rough places in the bark, but while it grew well, the birds loved it for nest-building and finally it all disappeared. As our towns 'join the march of progress' we will probably have less and less of things like Spanish moss.sigh

    Bookmark   July 20, 2003 at 5:06PM
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tacapollo(z5 WV)

I've read it can't be done, but I have actually had Spanish Moss start growing from an old bag of dried craft moss. It was a clump that had just been (carelessly) left on top of a dish of gravel outside over the summer. By the end of summer it had fresh green tendrils (is that what you'd call them?) shooting out. Unfortunately, I, (carelessly, again!), allowed it to dry out and lost it again. But it CAN be done-even here, high in the mountains.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2003 at 9:54AM
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rickey16(S. Ontario z6)

Probably not going to happen but just a thaught, what about the Toronto area?? Very humid, and lots of rain in the summer.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2004 at 9:14PM
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rockman50(6b SEMASS)

No way. It needs almost constant high humidity, which does not exist anywhere north of the southeastern USA. Yes, of course we have bouts of very hot humid weather in the north, but these bouts of high humidity are almost always broken by clear dry airmasses from Canada on a regular basis. So Spanish Moss probably would not survive the summer in Toronto, not to mention the harsh dry arctic conditions of winter. This is consistent with failed attempts to grow Spansih Moss in the DC area. It is much hotter and much more humid there compared to Toronto, but even in DC, the occasional dry sunny airmasses from the north occur frquently enough to kill the moss.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2004 at 2:56PM
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Can spanish moss be use as a mulch for covring on the ground around plants.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 11:39AM
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mrs_emily(8 Louisiana)

I had some growing in my tree and was very excited about it. Then the birds stole every bit of it...every single strand. I found some of it in a nearby birdhouse, but couldn't get it to grow again. Just get enough for yourself and for the birds.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2005 at 2:14AM
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I saw some beautiful strands of it in ridgeland or madison near the reservoir their. i think it was in a willow type tree. I haven't noticed it in any other. But i could be wrong on the tree. i just remember it had weepy branches.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2005 at 2:09PM
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FlowrLady(7/MS Olive Bran)

I live in NW MS and when I was in Natchez three years ago I brought some home. It's still in my trees, doing fine!

Try it, you probably can grow it.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 4:44PM
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Chevygold85(z7 Eastern Shore MD)

Any advice of where I could get them??? Also, is it a good indoor moss?

Any input is welcome!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2005 at 12:44AM
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It's full of chiggers (biting mites), which aren't a problem unless you are up close and personal with the moss, so handle with care. I've seen it in South Carolina (zone 8), but I know it won't survive here in Zone 7a.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 4:09AM
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live_oak_lady(Zone 9)

We have so much Spanish Moss in New Orleans that you can just walk along and pick it up off the ground in City Park after a wind storm. I have gotten some from live oaks at some of the plantations in Louisiana, too. Once you get it started it takes off on its own. I occasionally mail packages of it to Pennsylvania and Illinois to friends who take it in during the winter into their greenhouses. They just like the "southern look". And, yes, the only way to get it high in the tree is to throw it up there and hope it catches or put it on young trees and as they grow the Moss grows high with them. Moss spores fall downward, not upward.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 12:24AM
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bruggirl100(z9 FL)

It's actually a myth that Spanish Moss harbors chiggers. Chiggers live in the ground, not in trees. Now ticks are a different propositon, and if you pick it up off the ground, there might have been some chiggers that climbed up into it.

Spanish moss can harm trees by harboring insects that attack the tree, but the plant itself doesn't harm anything. No, it definitely won't grow in Tennessee. In fact, I tried to do some in Columbia, SC, and it died, however, 30 miles down the road in Sumter, it does well. Go figure.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 6:45PM
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This is in response to TNguy89s question. Yes, Spanish Moss will grow in TN. I live in Northern Middle Tn. I have some Spanish moss that I left outside to see if it would survive the winter. I was lucky that we had a mild enough winter that it did. I put spanish moss on the eastern side of our trees. It is doing rather well there. I also live near Old Hickory Lake, so we generally have a pretty good humidity level. The moss does have to come in sometimes during the winter due to it being too cold for it. I have had good luck with hanging it in a cool area of the house like a garage or basement to keep it from coming out of dormancy. I have never had good luck keeping it inside for long periods of time, so I suggest hanging it back up outside after the really cold air passes. What I mean by too cold or really cold for spanish moss is generally below ten degrees. It would probably be ok to 5 degrees since I left it outside and it went to nine degrees in the 06-07 winter season. I think it's better to safe than sorry though.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2007 at 1:57AM
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Cooperative Extension Service Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

Spanish Moss and Ball Moss1

Nancy P. Arny2

Many animals use Spanish moss for protection, taking cover in thick masses of pendent strands. Many insects and other invertebrates hide in moss masses, making it an unlikely choice for bedding by campers. The prevalence of "red bugs" or chiggers in the plant is legendary. Spiders, thrips, and dozens of other insects hide in the moss as well. This abundance of invertebrates may or may not be the reason that at least two species of bats also use festoons of Spanish moss for cover. Both red bats and pipistrelles use masses of Spanish moss as day-time resting sites.

(copied and pasted from the University of Florida Website)

Chiggers along with all their creepy little friends thrive in Spanish moss. Anyone who lives around it knows not to handle it with bare hands or arms. Be careful if you don't want to get eaten up!!

Does anyone know how to kill the bugs in Spanish moss so you can bring it inside to decorate with?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 7:47PM
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I'm so glad you posted that. I was freaking out as I was reading this thread and was about to start looking for the info myself. Most kids here know not to use moss as a toy (it's tempting to use as a beard). I've heard that hummingbirds are big fans too, which explains why my moss always disappers.

As for killing the bugs I would try steaming it. Not that I really know, just a suggestion.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 12:14AM
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says to microwave or boil it to kill the bugs

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 12:23AM
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We have pleanty of Spanish Moss here in Southern Louisiana but it is still not easy to move. The birds love it for bedding and not every tree is a candidate for transfer. I have seen it in pecan trees, oak trees and crepe myrtle trees. Moisture is the key. There is also a virus that almost wiped out all of the Spanish Moss about 20 years ago. Has made a nice comeback though. It is not against the law to pick it (if you see some hanging over the road or on the ground). Put it in plastic a plastic bag and transfer it to your location asap. IT IS full of insects though. You can microwave it to kill the bugs or just go to your craft shop and buy some if you want to use it inside.

I have been trying for years to get resurection fern to grow in my oaks. This year I do see a bit taking hold. Hope I live to see it as beautiful as it is in City Park.

Hope this helps,

Leubafr (Mary)

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 11:04AM
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I love resurection fern too. Spanish moss has never really appealed to me I guess because it is everywhere here. My oaks are full of the ferns. Its so neat how it looks dead when it drys up but then just greens right up once it rains.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 12:44AM
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I have a tiny fern from Oak Alley Plantation that was growing at the bottom of one of the oaks. I planted it here and thought it had totally died the next day. It was curled and brown. I gave it lots of water and the next day it was open and green again. Is this possibly a resurrection fern? It does seem to open and close constantly.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 2:14AM
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Yes indeed, this could be resurrection fern. It has short fronds and usually grows on the upper side of the limbs. I have seen it occasionally on the bark at the roots, but not as often as on the limbs. It is incredible how it just comes back from the dead . . . . thus resurrection.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 6:15PM
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