How to Grow Moss | A Moss Gardening Guide
How To Grow Moss Indoors And Out
Although mosses are allegedly some of the most drought resistant plants on earth, they typically prefer humidity and a steady stream of moisture. Moss can thus often be found in wet spots like shady forests and alongside creek beds. Live moss plants for growing moss can either be hunted down and harvested in nature or purchased at a store. I’ve never been one to buy something I can pick up outside, so I recommend getting your hands dirty, taking your dogs on an adventure and grabbing some creek or tree moss from your nearest nature spot. In addition to being free, this method assures that the moss you obtain is suited to your local climate and therefore able to grow, thrive and spread just the way you need it to.
After finding your moss outdoors, harvest it by wedging a thin flat device such as a spatula underneath its base. Then gently lift the moss plant so as not to damage it and place it inside a plastic bag for transport. Moss is generally quite hardy, so if you’re outside and you have neither a spatula or a plastic bag, pick some up with your hands and shove it in your backpack. For the most part, I’ve found this latter method to be just as effective.
Once home prepare your indoor moss garden. To prevent bacteria growth it’s advisable to pour boiling water over whatever surface or soil you plan on using as your base. To be fair, although I’ve always read that this sort of sterilization is recommended prior to introducing your moss, I’ve never actually prepped my planting surface and have yet to suffer any of the consequences that blog posts on moss growing warn you about. So, if you want to take the easy way out, you can probably skip the boiling water and dive right into the good part.
Your moss garden can be contained in a vessel, placed atop a rock, or situated inside driftwood. I like to place my moss atop large rocks or a collection of smaller stones inside a container, but I imagine that as long as your moss plants receive plenty of water and daylight the moss encasement possibilities are endless. If you’re using a container with soil, lining the container’s base with a thin layer of activated charcoal atop a layer of rocks will aid in maintaining soil health and proper moisture levels. The charcoal will work to remove toxins and help prevent mold or mildew while the rocky bottom layer will promote drainage.
Keep your indoor moss garden in an area with plenty of daylight as mosses require it for photosynthesis and be sure your moss plants receive adequate water by keeping them in areas with high humidity such as bathrooms or using a spray bottle to mist them regularly.
Moss Paint | The Moss Milkshake
If you’re into fun DIY crafts and Pinterest, it’s likely that you’ve already stumbled across making moss paint, also called moss milkshake, somewhere on the web. An alternative to buying or collecting additional moss plants, the moss milkshake, is likely the simplest way for growing moss without having to wait for them to spread on their own and if you are growing moss in every room of your home before flu season you have no time to waste on nature taking its course. The moss milkshake creates a type of moss paint that can then be spread across surfaces such as rocks, fences, brick walls, trees, ceramic pots, or wherever you desire your moss to grow. Many people ask, can you use moss paint indoors? Yes, all it calls for is 2 cups of buttermilk and 2 cups of water, topped with moss to fill the blender. The mixture should be blended until it reaches a milkshake consistency and can then be painted or poured onto the substrate of your choice. Be sure to give your milkshake concoction plenty of misting and you should be growing moss within three weeks.
Some of the oldest land dwelling plants in existence, mosses are rather incredible creatures of much mystery. Prior to my recent infatuation with this green, fuzzy, inconspicuous life form we call moss, however, I had little clue of its magical properties. It’s thus important to note that mosses have many fascinating properties and some of them might blow you away.
What is moss?
Mosses usually grow close together in clumps or mats and can be found throughout most parts of the world including the arctic. Along with their cousins liverworts and hornworts, mosses are known as bryophytes and classified into the plant division Bryophyta, which is estimated to contain more than 18,000 identified bryophyte species. Dating back over 450 million years, bryophytes are considered by botanists to be some of the oldest plants in existence. Moe advanced vascular plants like ferns didn’t appear on earth until about 50 million years later.
Like many plants, mosses are small, green and photosynthetic. One way they differ is that instead of producing blooms and seeds, mosses reproduce by growing spores. They also lack any real vascular structures like leaves, stems and roots. Instead, they have root-like appendages called rhizoids. Rhizoids are thin filaments whose main function is to anchor the moss to its substrate. Water and nutrient intake occurs on the outside of the plant.
Although moss plants are typically found in wet, shady areas, mosses are actually one of the most drought resistant plants in existence. Some species have therefore adapted to survive in seasonally dry climates such as alpine rocks or stabilized sand dunes. During lengthy dry periods, mosses are able to completely dry-out and suspend all growth. When moisture returns, moss plants will essentially come back from the dead and resume their photosynthetic metabolism.
Scientists estimate that there are approximately 12,000 species of moss classified in the Bryophyta and about 1,000 of those can be found in the United States.
What is not moss?
There are several plants commonly referred to as mosses that are not actually moss. Reindeer moss, also known as caribou moss, and so dubbed due to its integral role in the diets of grazing animals such as reindeer, caribou, moose and musk oxen, is one of these moss impostors. Cladonia rangiferina (a.k.a. reindeer moss) is actually a lichen belonging to the Cladoniaceae family. Related to neither mosses nor lichens, Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is another fraud. A flowering plant that grows hanging from tree branches in either full sun or partial shade, Spanish moss is an angiosperm in the family Bromeliaceae (the bromeliads). Club mosses and Irish moss are two other fakers with misleading common names.
What features make mosses most magical?
Magic is in the air and due to their lack of lengthy root structures mosses have no choice but to absorb it. In order to get the moisture and nutrition they need for survival, mosses must take it from the air around them. In doing so, mosses also unwittingly collect hoards of other unwanted air particles such as smoke or bacteria that they then dutifully store inside themselves forever (at least that’s what my research led me to believe). This propensity towards taking in air and essentially cleaning it, makes them wonderful air purifiers. An indoor moss garden is thus an exceptional way to keep breathing air squeaky clean and free of toxins.
Another pretty incredible feature of growing moss indoors, is that it can help stabilize room moisture levels to maintain a relative humidity of between 40 and 60 percent. When humidity rises above 17 grams/cu. meter, moss will absorb moisture from the air. When humidity drops below 12 grams/cu. meter mosses humidify the air by releasing moisture back into the environment. This moss humidification method is especially useful when humidity drops during flu season. Research shows that influenza is most likely to spread at humidity levels below 10 grams/cu. meter, so growing moss indoors will not only help to maintain humidity levels that don’t promote the spread of diseases, but will also serve to clean those disease particles from the air.
Lastly, mosses have no known pests or disease, are extremely forgiving and require little to no maintenance, making them my plant of choice for both indoor and outdoor gardening.