How to Keep Moss Alive | Four Steps
Moss is commonly used in bonsai creations both to add visual impact by covering the ground and to keep the ground cool by acting as a mulch. Here’s our guide on how to keep moss alive and healthy.
In many parts of the world, moss can be ordered, either as a growing plant or as spores, through the mail, but it’s not necessary to constantly buy supplies of moss. You can quite simply propagate your own store.
What Are the Benefits of Propagating My Own Moss Supply?
Three main benefits of propagating moss:
- Convenience: there will always be a ready supply of moss when you need it.
- Safety: you know where the moss has come from, and it has no pests or mold.
- Success: you know the moss has been propagated in your environment, so it should grow successfully.
How to Keep Moss Alive and Grow Your Own
Growing moss is a simple affair and makes a wonderful project for children. If you plan to have your own, here are the steps for how to keep moss alive.
Step #1: Gather Your Equipment
- A large clear plastic tub with a tightly fitting lid. The tub must be deep as well as wide. If you do not have a tub with a tightly fitting lid, you can use any tub and a piece of clear plastic tied tightly over the top. You are creating a terrarium, so you want it to be airtight, allowing it to create its own environment inside.
- Well-washed gravel. The gravel must be approximately 1 cm – 2 cm (½” – ¾”) in size, and you’ll need enough to cover the base of the plastic tub with at least a 2,5 cm (1”) layer.
- Granulated charcoal. This will help keep the water clean and can be purchased from tropical fish suppliers. You will need enough to make a 5 cm layer in your tub.
- Potting soil. You will need enough to make a 3cm – 5cm (1” – 2”) layer in the tub.
- Your moss plants.
- A spray bottle containing water. Do not use chlorinated water from the tap. Instead, use spring water, rainwater, or distilled water.
Step #2: Collect Your Moss
You can skip this step if you have ordered moss as living plants or spores through the mail.
Collect moss from damp, shaded areas around your home. Even small pieces will rapidly multiply in ideal conditions.
Step#3: Prepare the Tub
- Spread a nice layer of gravel at the bottom of the tub. This layer should be 2,5 cm (1”) deep and will act as a reservoir for the water.
- Over the gravel, spread a 5 cm layer of granulated charcoal.
- Now a nice layer of potting soil. This layer should be about the same thickness as the charcoal.
Step #4: Plant the Moss
- If you have collected moss from around your home, I suggest washing it thoroughly before planting it in your tub. This will get rid of any unwanted hitchhikers picked up along with the plants.
- Now lay the moss plants on top of the potting soil. It is not necessary to plant them in the ground. Simply lie them on top and press firmly to ensure good contact between the moss and the soil.
- Using your spray bottle, spritz the plants very well until you can see that the soil is wet, but there must be no puddles.
- Put the lid on tightly and place the tub where it will get a lot of light.
- Check every couple of weeks to see that the moss is not drying out. If it is, spritz a little more water over the plants.
As the art of bonsai is to try and replicate nature in miniature, we are looking for ways to make our creations look more realistic. Moss around the base of a tree will perfectly replicate the grass growing around the tree in nature. Also, moss is an excellent mulch, helping keep the soil cool and retain moisture.
Following these four simple steps will give you a steady supply of moss that you know is pest and virus free.