Moss - The Guide to Mosses

Moss is a type of non-vascular plant that belongs to the division Bryophyta, and lacks true stems, roots, and leaves.

Instead of vascular  structures like leaves, stems and roots mosses have rhizoids, root-like appendages that anchor them in place.

Mosses source water and nutrients from the outside versus from the ground and reproduce by growing spores instead of producing blooms and seeds.

Mosses are commonly found in damp environments, such as in forests, wetlands, and on the banks of streams and rivers, where they play important roles in soil formation and stabilization, as well as in maintaining water quality. In fact, some species of moss are known for their ability to act as indicators of environmental pollution and changes in climatic conditions.

Mosses are some of the oldest and most drought resistant plants on earth. Known as bryophytes, mosses are 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. More advanced vascular plants like ferns didn’t appear on earth until about 50 million years later.

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Here is what moss needs to survive:

  1. Moisture: Moss requires a consistently moist environment to survive, as it lacks the root system to absorb water.
  2. Light: While moss can grow in low light conditions, it thrives in environments with bright, indirect light.
  3. Proper pH: Most mosses prefer acidic soil with a pH between 5 and 6.
  4. Nutrients: Mosses get their nutrients from the surrounding air and water, and can grow in nutrient-poor environments.
  5. Air flow: Moss needs air to complete the exchange of gases necessary for photosynthesis.


It’s important to note that the specific requirements for each species of moss may vary, so it’s best to research the specific needs of the moss you are growing or studying.

Plants that belong to the division Bryophyta:

  1. Mosses (bryophytes)
  2. Liverworts: A type of non-vascular plant similar to mosses, they are named after the liver-like shape of some species.
  3. Hornworts: Another type of non-vascular plant, they are named after the horn-like appearance of their sporophytes.


Like mosses, both liverworts and hornworts are commonly found in moist environments and play important roles in the ecosystem, including helping to maintain soil stability and water quality.

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Yes, moss can be grown on wood. In fact, it is a common method for creating moss gardens or for adding a green accent to wooden surfaces such as walls, fences, or sculptures. To grow moss on wood, you will need to follow these steps:

Clean the surface: Clean the surface of the wood to remove any dirt, debris, or contaminants that could prevent the moss from growing.

Moisten the surface: Soak the wood in water for several hours to thoroughly moisten it.

Prepare the moss: Harvest the moss from its natural habitat and blend it with buttermilk or yogurt to create a thick mixture.

Apply the mixture: Spread the moss mixture evenly over the moistened wood surface, making sure to cover every nook and cranny.

Maintain moisture: Keep the moss moist by misting it regularly and covering it with plastic to retain moisture. Once the moss has established itself on the wood, it should be able to continue growing on its own.

Not all species of moss will grow on wood, and the conditions required for growth may vary depending on the species you are working with.

There are many species of moss that can grow on wood, but some of the most common include:


  1. Fontinalis antipyretica
  2. Hypnum curvifolium
  3. Plagiomnium ciliare
  4. Polytrichum commune
  5. Sphagnum moss


The suitability of a particular species of moss for growing on wood will depend on factors such as the amount of light and moisture available, the pH of the wood surface, and local environmental conditions.

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No, moss does not need soil to grow.

Mosses are non-vascular plants, meaning they do not have a root system like other plants.

Instead, they absorb water and nutrients directly through their leaves and stems.

As a result, they can grow in a variety of environments, including on rocks, tree trunks, and other surfaces, without the need for soil.

However, mosses still require moisture and appropriate light and temperature conditions to thrive.

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Yes, moss needs water to survive. Mosses are non-vascular plants, meaning they do not have a root system like other plants, and they absorb water and nutrients directly through their leaves and stems.

As a result, mosses require a consistent source of moisture in order to survive.

In the wild, mosses typically grow in environments that are consistently moist, such as in forests or near streams, but in indoor environments, it is important to provide adequate watering to maintain a suitable level of moisture for the moss to thrive.

Overwatering can be harmful to moss, so be sure to monitor the moisture level carefully and adjust watering as needed.

It is possible to grow moss directly on plastic, but there is a risk of mold growth if the moss is kept too moist for too long.

To minimize this risk, it is recommended to create a layer of growing medium, such as sphagnum moss or coconut coir, between the plastic and the moss.

The growing medium will help retain moisture for the moss and provide a more suitable environment for its growth, while also reducing the risk of mold.

Be sure to provide proper drainage and air flow to prevent mold growth and keep the moss healthy.

Adjust watering as needed to maintain a suitable environment for the moss to thrive.

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