The oldest plant on Earth is undergoing a renaissance. While the stately orchid is still the prize of the seasoned plant collector, it is the lowly moss that is receiving a new wave of love and admiration from the newest generation of hip gardeners. And why not? Moss is beautiful, texturally interesting, and fairly easy to grow.
Moss belongs to a class of plants that do not produce seeds or flowers. Instead, mosses produce spores, like ferns. Unlike ferns, though, they have no vascular structures – they rely on the surrounding environment to move water through the plant. That is why mosses are always so small: they are non-woody plants that have no system to support larger growth.
This interesting biology means that mosses can only grow in damp shady areas as they need water to reproduce as well as perform basic life processes. Too much sun means moss dries out. But the coolest thing about moss is that it is the only plant that, when removed from available water, will simply go dormant until water is available again. This makes moss the perfect starter plant for those who new to plant care – if you forget to water your moss it simply goes dormant and waits for you to remember!
There are a variety of products that can bring moss into your life, both indoors and out.
In order for moss spores to germinate, they have to land in a favorable environment. Generally the area has to be porous to give the moss spores pockets to sprout from, water must be available, and the pH levels must be within the acidic side of the scale (moss prefer to grow in acidic environments). If you have an area in your yard where you want to encourage the growth of moss, you can acidify the area with yogurt or buttermilk and then introduce moss spores. Or, if that sounds like a lot of work, you can use moss milkshake!
Packaged in a cardboard milk container, Moss Milkshake contains a powdered acidifying nutrient base and moss spores. Simply add water, shake, and pour the mixture where you want moss to grow. The slurry will create a low pH for the moss spores and provide nutrients when they start to grow.
I never understood the appeal of pet rocks, but this paperweight has some pizzazz! Nestled in the glazed ceramic “rock” is a puff of pillowy moss just daring you not to pet it. This easy to care for plant makes a great office companion – just water it once a week (we like to dunk it in water until the air bubbles stop) and keep it out of direct sun. In exchange for your care the soothing green fluff with grow little brown stalks with spore capsules on the end.
Kokedama is the Japanese art of growing bonsai in moss covered balls. When it is originally made string or twine is used to hold the ball together. Over time, however, the plant and the moss root into the ball and the roots begin to hold the spherical structure. Any kind of moss can be used in this technique, but we like sheet moss the best since it has structure to retain the soil ball.
These little string gardens are a great way to bring plants into a home without a lot of space since they can be supended and do not need shelf or table space. And because they are usually made of moss and ferns they are great for apartments and homes that have a limited amount of natural light.
The terrarium craze is probably the biggest factor in the growing interest in moss. While a number of plants can be grown in terrariums moss is especially suited for the humid environment. They make great companion plants when paired with taller moisture loving plants like ferns and usually thrive to form a completely self sufficient ecosystem. It is also easy to observe the different stages of the moss lifecycle inside terrariums, furthering the interest of the plant.