Anyone who’s hiked through a wooded area has likely seen bits of moss growing around every stump and rock. Though it isn’t as eye-catching as a brightly-colored flower, moss has a distinctive look that can accentuate any garden. You can even grow it indoors if you want a unique addition to your home plants. For all the information needed to get started with moss gardening, planting, and propagating, read on. By the end, you’ll have everything you need to add a little of this unique plant to your home.
Mosses are bryophytes, which are classified as non-vascular plants that reproduce through spores. Moss features leaves and stems but lacks roots, flowers, and seeds found on most other plants. Instead, they feature absorbent rhizoids, sucking up moisture and nutrients from nearby water sources.
These soft, cushiony layers have existed for over 450 million years and comprise thousands of different species. Moss grows all over the world in conditions other plants would find uninhabitable, surviving temperatures ranging from 210 to -457 degrees Fahrenheit. They alter the temperature of the soil, offering protection and shade in hot climates and keeping the soil insulated in cold areas.
Why Grow Moss?
While not as flashy as many other plants, moss has its own list of pros for bringing into your garden. Here are a couple of reasons why we, and many others, choose to grow a little moss in their garden.
Great For Decorating
Moss is an excellent way to add some visual appeal to a garden or landscape. Due to its low profile, and ability to grow in most locations, you have a lot more options with moss than other plants. For example, you’ll often see moss grown between other plants or alongside them. Bonsai trees, for example, will often feature a bed of moss to help add additional visual style to their container.
Moss is also very easy to grow and extremely low maintenance. Given the right conditions, it can go weeks or even months without any care needed. This can often make moss a “set and forget” type of plant, which can help you bring greenery into your home without adding any additional time to your care routine.
Moss is also great for the environment and works to reduce harmful pollutants. This is called biofiltration, and is a key role for any moss in their ecosystem.
There are about 25,000 different species of moss, though not all of them are best for an indoor garden. You likely don’t want a luminous plant requiring low light conditions or a cold-favoring variety since their preferred condition will be hard to replicate in your home. The more extreme moss varieties can often be difficult to grow simply because they are not adapted to the comfortable conditions in most homes or even outdoors in most habited areas.
Your best bet is to select a variety that grows naturally in your area. These are optimally suited to your climate, and will do well both indoors and outdoors according to your garden’s needs.
You can also select moss based on its characteristics, such as dense cushion mosses, clumpy turf mosses, or flat sheet mosses. These vary in texture, color, and characteristics, so pick the one that matches your aesthetic tastes.
You can find live moss for sale at many nurseries and garden shops. Terrariums are another common use for moss, so stores that specialize in that type of equipment will often sell moss as well. Many people can also find moss alive in their yard or garden and that’s another great way to start.
Planting isn’t the proper term when dealing with moss since it isn’t actually planted in the soil like other plants. It still needs the correct medium to get the minerals and nutrients it requires to survive, though. Before you begin, you’ll need a few items.
A container for your moss is the first item on the list. Plastic is fine, though glass is more pleasing to look at. Jars, glasses, or short, wide vases are good options. You have a lot of options here as moss can grow in almost any container. Moss doesn’t need a ton of space or depth to grow, so many container options are open to you that would not be suitable for most other plants.
You’ll also need pebbles, pincers or tweezers, and the correct medium. Some mosses grow well in potting soil, while others prefer rotting bark, pine needles, or other organic materials. Choose the proper medium that matches your moss variety.
To create your indoor moss garden, first, clean the container. Layer the pebbles on the bottom, then add a thin layer of your chosen medium. Place the moss on top, gently arranging it with the pincers. It doesn’t need to take up the entire space since moss will expand to fill the container. Use a spray bottle to mist the moss.
You can add a lid to your container to create the proper humidity level, though this isn’t an option for all mosses. Some prefer drier conditions, so check the specifications for the species you’ve chosen before sealing it in.
Most moss love a little sunlight, so don’t tuck it away in a dark corner and hope for the best. Most indoor species need about two hours of direct sunlight each day, as well as several hours of indirect sunlight. An east-facing window is best to prevent too much direct exposure while giving the plant the light it requires.
Depending on the variety, though, you can get by on far less than this. Some varieties do well in more shady locations.
Since moss doesn’t soak up water from the soil, it gets all its moisture needs from the air and nearby water sources. The proper container will help retain moisture, though you’ll need to add more at times. When the moss begins to feel dry or its coloring becomes dull, use a spray bottle and lightly mist the plant. The moss may require misting a few times a week, though don’t overwater it or you risk stunting its growth. As we’ll touch on in a minute, humidity plays an important role in keeping your moss happy.
Since moss gets its nutrients from the sun, it does not need fertilizer. As long as it gets the correct light and moisture, you won’t need to add anything extra to the soil.
Most indoor mosses aren’t picky about their temperature and can handle a range of about 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. You can generally keep your home at whatever is comfortable for you and still have a thriving moss plant.
Moss likes high humidity, with the optimal levels at 70% or more. Keeping their container sealed helps retain the necessary humidity, so you don’t need to keep your home overly damp to keep your moss happy. High humidity also reduces the need to water your moss as it’ll draw moisture from the air.
Like other plants, moss can grow too large for its space or develop some unappealing growth patterns. When this occurs, trim away the longer pieces or those distracting from the aesthetic appeal of the rest of the plant. Pruning has the added benefit of encouraging lush growth for a fuller bed of moss. Routine pruning won’t hurt your moss at all.
To propagate moss, prepare a new container for the removed pieces. Then gently tear off strips or chunks and place them in their new home. The pieces should be at least an inch for the best results. You don’t need a lot of moss since moss grows fast and will expand to fit the space available. Moss is one of the easiest plants to propagate as it requires almost no prep or special tools. Growing Moss Indoors
Moss is one of the easiest plants to grow in an indoor garden, with little care required once it’s settled into its new home. You can keep it in a container on its own or add it to a terrarium with other plants to create a living work of art. As well as looking fantastic, moss purifies the air of your home and makes it safer to breathe, so there’s no reason not to add it to your home garden.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does moss survive indoors?
With the proper care, including adequate lighting and moisture, indoor moss gardens can last several years.
How do I prevent mold growth?
Mold growth usually happens when the plant is overwatered, so only giving moss the moisture it needs is the best way to prevent it. Removing the lid to let some moisture escape for a few hours each week also thwarts mold growth.
How long does it take moss to grow?
Like most plants, moss needs time to settle into its new home. Though you won’t see new growth right away, after about six weeks, you’ll likely see rapid moss expansion.