- Moss: The Miracle Additive. Moss provides important nutrients, improves soil structure and aeration, suppresses harmful microorganisms, among other qualities.
- Different moss types are beneficial for different types of plants and mainly depend on the plant’s specific needs.
- Best moss types:
- Sphagnum Moss: absorbs and retains large amounts of water
- Sheet Moss: ideal for plants that require high humidity and high moisture conditions
- Spanish Moss: contains nutrients and moisture from the air and rainwater to pass along to your plant
What is a soil amendment?
As a general overview, a soil amendment refers to any material, either organic or inorganic, that is added to soil in order to improve its physical, chemical, and biological properties. The primary objective is to provide essential nutrients to the plants, especially a new plant, and improve it’s soil fertility. Secondary characteristics can be improving drainage, increasing water retention, and enhancing the soil’s ability to hold nutrients.
Organic soil amendments are derived from plant or animal sources and include things like compost, manure, and decaying moss. Organic soil amendments have an advantage over inorganic amendments when the desire is to improve soil structure, increase water holding capacity, and enhance nutrient availability. These qualities prove to be especially important in arid or drought-prone regions.
Inorganic soil amendments, on the other hand, are derived from non-living sources and include materials such as sand, perlite and vermiculite. Their benefits include improving soil drainage and aeration while reducing soil compaction. They can also improve soil’s ability to hold water, similar to organic amendments.
Soil amendments can also be used to adjust the pH of the soil. For example, lime can be added to acidic soil to make it more alkaline, while sulfur can be added to alkaline soil to make it more acidic. Adjusting the pH of the soil can help plants to better absorb nutrients, leading to improved growth and productivity. However, we’re here to talk about moss varieties and why they are a good idea to add to potting mix.
Why is moss unique?
Mosses are small, primitive, non-vascular plants that belong to the division Bryophyta. They are one of the oldest plant groups on earth and are found in diverse habitats around the world. Mosses lack roots, stems, and leaves, which is unique when compared to other plants, and are characterized by their small, simple, and often delicate structures.
Mosses can reproduce asexually through fragmentation, spores, or vegetative reproduction, as well as sexually through the production of male and female gametes. Once fertilization occurs, the “baby moss” (not a scientific name) is produced that is dependent on the parent moss for nutrition.
Out in nature, mosses play an important ecological role in many ecosystems (described below) by regulating soil moisture, preventing erosion, and providing habitats for small animals and insects.
Humans also have their fair share of uses for moss – horticultural purposes in gardens, a source of peat for fuel, and as a component in traditional medicines. Mosses have even been used for scientific research and experimentation due to their simplicity and ease of cultivation. Next, we’ll discuss where the different types of moss can grow.
Where can moss grow?
Literally, almost anywhere! One of the most fascinating qualities of moss is it’s hardiness, check out the different climates and habitats where many varieties of moss can thrive.
- Temperate Rainforests: Mosses thrive in the cool, moist conditions of temperate rainforests, which are found in places like the Pacific Northwest, New Zealand, and parts of Europe. These forests receive a lot of rainfall, which creates the perfect conditions for mosses to grow.
- Tropical Rainforests: Mosses can also be found in tropical rainforests, such as the Amazon in South America, where they grow on the forest floor, trees, and other surfaces. These forests have high levels of rainfall and humidity, which create a perfect environment for mosses to thrive.
- Tundra: Mosses are also found in the cold, arctic regions of the world, such as the tundra. These regions have a short growing season and low temperatures, but mosses are able to survive in these conditions by growing close to the ground and retaining moisture.
- Deserts: Despite the dry conditions and they sandy soil of deserts, some mosses are able to grow in these habitats. These moss species are adapted to full sun and can survive for long periods without much water.
- Alpine Regions: Mosses are also found in alpine regions, which are located high in the mountains. These regions have cold temperatures and strong winds, but mosses are able to grow by hugging the ground and retaining moisture.
- Coastal Areas: Mosses can also grow in coastal areas, such as the coasts all over the Northern Hemisphere, including Eastern North America, where they are exposed, and in turn, adapted to salt spray, high levels of moisture, and other harsh conditions.
That’s quite an assortment for live moss!
Is adding moss to indoor plants better for the plant?
Absolutely! When used as a soil amendment, moss helps improve the overall health of the plant. Check out how here.
- Nutrient-rich: Moss is a rich source of several important nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These nutrients are essential for the growth and development of plants, and adding moss to the soil can help to provide a steady supply of these nutrients over time.
- Water Retention: Moss is able to absorb and retain a large amount of water, which can be especially beneficial for indoor plants that are prone to drying out quickly. By retaining moisture in the soil, moss can help to prevent the soil from becoming too dry and help the plant to stay hydrated.
- Aeration: Moss is also an excellent soil amendment for improving soil aeration. Many mosses consist of long, fibrous strands that create air pockets in the soil, improving drainage and allowing oxygen to reach plant’s roots.
- Soil Structure: Moss has a fibrous structure that can help to improve soil structure and promote good drainage. When mixed into soil, moss can help to loosen compacted soil and improve air circulation, which can encourage root growth and improve overall plant health.
- Microbial Activity: Moss can help to suppress harmful microorganisms in the soil, such as fungi and bacteria, which can cause root rot and other diseases. Moss contains a compound called sphagnum acid, which can help to prevent the growth of these harmful microorganisms.
- Aesthetic Appeal: Last but certainly not least! Moss can add a beautiful natural touch to indoor plants, making them look more attractive and visually appealing.
What are the best types of moss for indoor plants?
Finally, we’ve made it to the best types of moss for indoor plants! Obviously, you will see the best results and the best type of moss for your indoor plants will be dependent on many factors, including if if they are mature plants or freshly planted, the specific type of plant, and if the plant needs permanent moist areas for the roots. But, you won’t go wrong with any of these choices for your potted plant!
Sphagnum moss, also known by it’s more common name Peat Moss or Bog Moss, is a genus of over 380 species of mosses that are found in wetland areas throughout the world, including North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. The name “sphagnum” comes from the Greek word sphagnos, which means “sponge,” and it is known for its ability to absorb and retain large amounts of water and is one of the most common types of moss.
Sphagnum mosses are unique in their ability to grow in waterlogged and acidic environments, such as peat bogs, where other plant species cannot survive, making them the perfect type of moss for indoor plants. As mentioned, they can be found in bogs but also many other wetland habitats, where they form thick mats of vegetation that can cover large areas. These mats can be several feet thick and can hold up to 20 times their weight in water (a very good reason to add them to your indoor plants!).
Sphagnum Peat Moss has been used for centuries as a fuel source, for horticultural purposes, and in agriculture. Its ability to hold water and nutrients has made it a popular growing medium for plants. It is also used as a soil conditioner and is often mixed with other materials as common peat moss to improve soil quality.
A quick interesting fact about these Sphagnum mosses have also played an important role in the formation of peatlands and the sequestration of carbon. As the mosses die and accumulate over time, they form layers of organic material that can be many feet thick. These layers can trap and store carbon, making peatlands an important carbon sink.
Sheet moss, also known as Hypnum moss or feather moss, is a type of moss that belongs to the Hypnaceae family. It is a common type of moss found in temperate and boreal regions throughout the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia.
Sheet moss typically grows in dense, carpet-like mats on the ground, rocks, logs, and tree trunks, due to it’s love of moist, shady environments. It adds habitats for many small animals and insects, as well as helping to retain moisture in the soil and prevent erosion, which shows why it is such an important part of certain ecosystems.
Sheet moss has been used for centuries by humans for various purposes. In traditional Japanese gardens, sheet moss is often used as a ground cover to create a serene and peaceful atmosphere (see the moss gardens section below). It is also commonly used in floral arrangements, terrariums, and other decorative applications.
Sheet moss is also used in horticulture as a soil amendment to improve moisture retention and drainage, which is exactly what we’re looking for with our types of moss for indoor plants. It is best for plants with that require high humidity and moisture soil conditions, such as orchids, carnivorous plants, among others.
Spanish moss, also known as Tillandsia usneoides, is a type of epiphytic plant that is native to the southeastern United States, Central America, and South America. The plant is not actually a moss, but rather a member of the bromeliad family, which includes pineapples and air plants.
Spanish moss is characterized by its long, slender, gray-green leaves that grow in a tangled mass. The plant has no roots and obtains its nutrients and moisture from the air and rainwater. It often grows on trees, but can also be found on rocks, fences, and other structures.
The use of Spanish moss dates back to the Native American tribes who used the plant for a variety of purposes, including bedding, insulation, and medicinal remedies. Spanish explorers in the 16th century named the plant “Barba de Español,” which translates to “the beard of the Spanish,” due to its long, flowing appearance.
Today, Spanish moss is still used for a variety of purposes, including in the floral industry for decoration and in gardening as a natural mulch. However, the plant is also considered a nuisance by some due to its tendency to cover and potentially harm trees if it becomes too dense. Sounds like we need to stick with it in our potted plants!
Pincushion moss, scientifically known as Leucobryum glaucum, is a species of moss that belongs to the Leucobryaceae family. It is commonly found in moist habitats such as bogs, swamps, and wetlands, as well as in areas with high humidity such as forests and riverbanks. The plant is widely distributed throughout the world, including North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Pincushion moss is a small plant that typically grows to be about 1-3 cm in height. It has a distinctive bright green color and a cushion-like appearance, which gives it its common name. The plant consists of individual leafy stems that grow upright and branch out at the top, forming a dense mat or cushion-like structure. Each stem is covered with small, overlapping leaves that are pointed at the tip and slightly curved downward at the base.
The plant is able to grow and thrive in a variety of environmental conditions, making it a highly adaptable species and perfect for . Pincushion moss is able to tolerate a wide range of temperatures, from freezing to high heat, and is able to survive drought conditions by becoming dormant until conditions improve. It also has the ability to retain moisture, all combining to show why this is such a great type of moss for indoor plants.
Rainbow moss, also known as Plagiomnium affine, is a species of moss that is native to Asia and Europe. It is commonly found in moist and shady areas, such as forest floors, riverbanks, and wetlands.
It is characterized by its unique coloring, which includes shades of green, yellow, orange, and red, which are the result of pigments produced by the moss in response to changes in light and moisture levels.
Similar to other mosses, Rainbow moss plays an important role in its ecosystem by providing habitat and food for a variety of organisms, including insects, spiders, and small mammals. It also helps to retain moisture in the soil and prevent erosion.
In recent years, rainbow moss has become popular in the horticulture industry as a decorative plant for terrariums and indoor gardens. It is relatively easy to care for and can thrive in a variety of conditions, making it a popular choice for hobbyists, plant enthusiasts, and all those reading this post!
Reindeer moss, also known as Cladonia rangiferina, is a lichen species that is found in arctic and sub-arctic regions of the world, including Scandinavia, Iceland, Russia, North America, and parts of northern Europe. It is an important food source for reindeer and other grazing animals, and has also been used by humans for a variety of purposes for thousands of years.
Reindeer moss, obviously, grows in cold and dry environments, where it thrives in well-drained soil or on rocks, and it is able to tolerate extreme temperatures and low levels of nutrients. It typically grows in low, bushy clumps, and can range in color from greenish-gray to yellowish-green.
Reindeer moss plays a critical role in arctic and sub-arctic ecosystems, as it helps stabilize soil, provides habitat for other organisms, and regulates nutrient cycling and carbon storage in these environments. This is such a great type of moss for indoor plants because of the fact that it doesn’t take much maintenance.
Great Golden Maidenhair Moss
Great golden maidenhair moss, also known as Polytrichum commune, is a species of moss found in many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, North America, and South America. It is a member of the Polytrichaceae family, which contains about 90 genera and over 1000 species.
Great golden maidenhair moss typically grows in dense, clumpy patches. It is large, relative to other mosses, with stems that can grow up to 20 cm in height and leaves that can reach up to 2 cm in length. The leaves are long and narrow, with a distinctive golden-brown color that gives the moss its common name.
This moss species has also become popular in the horticultural trade as an ornamental plant for terrariums and other indoor plant displays, which is how we got turned onto it!
Mood moss, also known as hypnum moss, is a type of moss that belongs to the Hypnum genus, which is a group of mosses found in temperate regions around the world.
The name “mood moss” is believed to have originated from the way the plant appears to change its appearance depending on the amount of light it receives. In low light conditions, the moss can appear dark and moody, while in brighter light, it can take on a brighter, more vibrant green color.
Mood moss is frequently used in the world of horticulture and landscaping. It makes an amazing moss lawn (see section below), as it creates lush, green ground cover in gardens and around landscaping. It is also commonly used in terrariums and other indoor plant displays.
How to make DIY potting soil for my indoor plants with moss?
- Fresh or dried moss
- A bucket or large container
- Garden shears or scissors
- Compost or soil
- Collect your dried moss. This can be found in many areas around your home, or purchased at garden centers and online suppliers.
- Clean the moss. If you have collected moss from the wild, remove any debris, twigs, or rocks. Rinse the moss thoroughly with water to get rid of dirt, insects, or other contaminants.
- Soak the moss. Place the moss in a bucket or large container and cover it with water. Allow the moss to soak for several hours or overnight until it becomes soft and pliable.
- Drain the water. After soaking, drain the water from the container and remove any excess water by squeezing the moss gently.
- Cut the moss into small pieces. Using garden shears or scissors, cut the moss into small pieces, approximately 1-2 inches in length.
- Add the moss to soil or compost. You can add the moss to your garden soil or compost pile as a soil amendment. Mix the moss pieces into the soil or compost to distribute them evenly.
- Water the soil or compost. After adding the moss, water the soil or compost to help it settle and integrate with the surrounding materials.
- Plant as normal! Now, just plant your indoor plant as you would with any other type of potting soil or compost, and that’s all there is to it!
Care for a plant with moss soil?
- Watering: Water your plant regularly, but don’t over-water it. The moss and soil mixture will retain moisture, so be sure to check the top inch of soil before watering. If it feels dry to the touch, then it’s time to water. Make sure the water drains through the soil and moss mixture and out of the bottom of the pot to prevent waterlogging.
- Lighting: Find a spot for your plant that receives the right amount of light. Be sure to research the specific light requirements for your specific indoor plant.
- Humidity: Some indoor plants, especially tropical ones, require higher levels of humidity. You can increase the humidity around your plant by placing a humidifier nearby, placing a tray of water near the plant, or by regular misting the plant with a spray bottle regularly.
- Fertilizing: Fertilize your plant regularly, but only during the growing season (spring and summer). You can use a liquid or granular fertilizer, following the package instructions for the correct dosage.
- Pruning: Prune your plant regularly to keep it healthy and looking its best. Remove any dead or damaged leaves, and trim back any overgrown branches or stems.
- Repotting: As your plant grows, it may outgrow its pot. When this happens, you’ll need to repot it into a larger container. Choose a pot that is one size larger than the current one, and just make up another batch of soil and moss for your, now thriving, indoor plant!
Conclusion to the Best Types of Moss for Indoor Plants
As you can see, it is very beneficial and fairly simple to add and use moss in your indoor plants.
Other Uses for Moss
Seed starting with moss is a technique that involves using sphagnum moss as a growing medium for starting seeds. Sphagnum moss is a type of moss that is known for its ability to retain water and provide a suitable environment for seed germination.
To start seeds with moss, you will need to soak the moss in water until it is fully saturated. Then, you can fill a seed tray or pot with the moss and place your seeds on top. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of moss and lightly press down to ensure good contact between the seeds and the moss.
The moss should be kept consistently moist but not overly wet, as excess water can lead to fungal growth and rot. You can mist the moss with water or cover the tray with a plastic dome to help retain moisture.
Once the seeds have germinated, you can gradually increase the amount of light they receive and eventually transplant them into a larger container or into your garden.
Seed starting with moss can be a great option for gardeners who want to avoid using traditional potting soil or who want to experiment with different growing mediums. It can also be a good option for starting seeds that are particularly sensitive to drying out or for plants that prefer a moist growing environment.
Rock gardens with moss are a popular type of garden design that incorporates both rocks and moss to create a natural and serene outdoor space. Moss is a small, non-flowering plant that thrives in damp, shady areas and can be found in a variety of colors and textures. When paired with rocks, moss can create a striking contrast of colors and textures that enhances the beauty of the garden.
Rock gardens with moss typically feature a variety of different types of rocks, including boulders, gravel, and smaller stones, arranged in a naturalistic manner. The moss is then planted in the crevices and spaces between the rocks, creating a lush and textured ground cover. This type of garden design is particularly well-suited to areas with rocky, hilly terrain, as it allows gardeners to work with the natural contours of the land.
One of the main benefits of a rock garden with moss is that it requires relatively little maintenance. Moss is a low-maintenance plant that does not need to be watered or fertilized as often as other plants, and can thrive in areas with little direct sunlight. Additionally, the use of rocks and gravel in the garden helps to reduce soil erosion and control moisture levels, making it an eco-friendly option for homeowners.
Moss lawns are a type of landscaping that involves using mosses as a ground cover instead of traditional grass. Moss lawns have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their aesthetic appeal and low maintenance requirements.
Mosses are small, non-vascular plants that thrive in damp, shady environments. Unlike grass, moss does not require mowing, fertilization, or watering, making it an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative. Moss lawns can also help to reduce soil erosion, retain moisture, and improve air quality.
To create a moss lawn, the area is first cleared of any existing grass or weeds, and the soil is prepared by removing any debris and adding compost or other organic matter. Moss spores are then spread over the prepared soil and lightly misted with water. Over time, the moss will begin to establish itself and spread to form a dense, lush carpet.
Moss lawns do require some maintenance, such as removing any debris that may accumulate on the surface, and occasionally watering during dry spells. However, compared to traditional lawns, the maintenance requirements are minimal.
Moss gardens are gardens that feature moss as the main ground cover instead of traditional grass or other plants. These gardens can range from small, container gardens to large, outdoor spaces. Moss gardens are often used in Japanese garden design, but can also be found in other styles of landscaping.
Moss is a low-maintenance, non-invasive ground cover that thrives in moist, shady areas. Moss gardens require little watering, fertilizing, or mowing, making them an eco-friendly alternative to traditional lawns. Moss also helps to prevent erosion and filter rainwater, making it a great choice for environmentally conscious gardeners.
Creating a moss garden typically involves selecting the right location and preparing the soil by removing any existing plants or debris. Moss can then be transplanted or encouraged to grow naturally by misting the area and providing adequate shade and moisture. Design elements such as stones, lanterns, or water features can be incorporated into the garden to enhance its visual appeal.
Moss gardens offer a unique and tranquil aesthetic, with their lush, velvety green texture and ability to create a sense of calm and serenity. They can be enjoyed year-round and are especially beautiful in the spring when they bloom with delicate flowers.
Moss poles are vertical support structures used to help climbing plants grow upwards. Making your own moss pole is even pretty simple by wrapping a layer of moss around common materials like PVC pipe or bamboo. The moss is kept moist to create a humid environment for the plant’s roots to cling to and absorb nutrients. As the plant grows, it can be trained to climb up the moss pole, which helps to support its weight and encourages it to grow upright.
Moss poles are commonly used for plants such as Monsteras, Philodendrons, or as I use it for, Golden Pothos, but it can be useful for any climbing or trailing plant. They are a popular option for indoor plant enthusiasts looking to maximize their space and create a lush, vertical display of greenery.
Terrariums are miniature gardens that can be created in a glass container. They are designed to create a self-sustaining ecosystem that requires minimal maintenance. Moss is a popular plant to use in terrariums due to its ability to thrive in humid environments and its low-maintenance requirements.
Moss can be used in terrariums in a variety of ways, such as a ground cover, a centerpiece, or as an accent to other plants. Moss is an excellent addition to terrariums because it helps to regulate moisture levels and provides a natural and attractive appearance.