planting moss

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by fern2, Sep 13, 2006.

  1. fern2

    fern2 Active Member

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    Hi,

    Does anyone know how to propagate or plant moss in an area that doesn't have any yet?
    I've never had any luck digging up clumps & moving them to new locations (although I haven't tried moving clumps that are already attached to wood/rock). I assume their roots/rhizomes (etc?) must be deep or that they just don't like to be disturbed.
    And I can't say I'm keen on collecting spores from 'fruiting' mosses.

    So is there any other way for me to get moss in my yard besides just waiting & hoping that it'll show up on its own? Can I order PNW native mosses through any local (Vanc) nurseries? Or am I out of luck?
    Thanks.
     
  2. Rima

    Rima Active Member

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    Maybe the new locations aren't as hospitable to them as the old ones were - they're fussy about where they grow, both in relation to sun and wetness of the site.
     
  3. globalist1789

    globalist1789 Active Member

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    The problem is most likely a lack of water. Try collecting moss, drying it, grind it up. Then sprinkle the area you want the most with the powder. Water it (very gently) everyday and you will soon have a carpet.

    You can get moss spores at some garden centers or bonsai shops, but it is basically the powder I described above.
     
  4. Debra Dunaway

    Debra Dunaway Active Member

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    Hi Fern, Try this: collect some moss, say 2 handfuls, then chop them up finely and let them dry out. When they are dry make a slurry by mixing the following ingredients in a bucket....1 cup flour, 2 cups buttermilk, 2 pkgs active dry yeast, 2 tbsp corn syrup and 1-1.5 cups of your dried moss. After mixing, place the bucket in the sun for three days. When the mixture gets really smelly just brush it on wherever you want it....rocks etc and cover it with saran wrap...in a couple of weeks you will have mold and in about 8 weeks you should have moss growing. Good Luck! Deb
     
  5. globalist1789

    globalist1789 Active Member

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    I don't know why you would want mold to grow? Moss, yeast and fungus(mold) are all entirely different things. The fungus would be more than happy to eat the little moss bits. I've heard lots about using skim or butter milk, but I would certainly leave the yeast, flour and syrup out. Not to mention the insects and rodents that it would attract.
     
  6. Debra Dunaway

    Debra Dunaway Active Member

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    I have had success with this method before so just wanted to offer some advice that has worked for me...certainly don't profess to be an expert by any means! This method was offered by Kipp McIntyre, co-owner of Mostly Moss, a Georgia buisiness that specializes in sculptured moss gardens. Deb
     
  7. Rima

    Rima Active Member

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    What method???
     
  8. Debra Dunaway

    Debra Dunaway Active Member

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    Rima....two posts ago?? Deb.
     
  9. fern2

    fern2 Active Member

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    Wow guys! Thanks!
    Both methods (with & without mold, hehe) sound easy & hopefully effective. I'll definitely give them both a try. Crossing my fingers that they'll work.

    ps: regarding a lack of water, I don't think that's been the problem (although it's the most logical explanation) because the moss won't grow even when I return it to the same spot where it was removed from - e.g. if I dig up moss to plant a seedling & then put the moss around the seedling once I'm done. I dunno...

    Anyway, thanks again!
     
  10. Debra Dunaway

    Debra Dunaway Active Member

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    Fern... Could you please describe the site, where, what it is that you would like to cover with moss...ie exposure and such...maybe we could hone in better the method of propogation for you. Deb :)
     
  11. globalist1789

    globalist1789 Active Member

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    Moss is different then most other plants that you may know. Only the tip of the moss is alive and growing. Water wicks up the moss from the bottom to the growing tip. There is no system in the moss for water transportation (as in vascular plants). That is why there are no 10 foot mosses! They dont have roots or leaves. If you dig up moss, you are breaking its connection with the ground and the water there in, even if you replace the moss, the connection is damaged and so the moss suffers. It will liven up again in time, so no worries. Moss is tough stuff.
     
  12. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

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  13. GreenGoose

    GreenGoose Active Member

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    The sounds good to me but you may have to acidify the soil before you try propagating the moss. A soil pH 5.5 or below will be needed to suppress the growth of grasses and clovers that you don't want or you'll be 'weeding' the moss constantly.

    Without at the expense of actually testing, you can make a quick estimate by observing what is growing there (or adjacent) now. If there is grass and broad leaved weeds, the ph is too high. If there is no clover, the nutrients are too high. If the ground is dry, the moisture level may need to be supplemented. If there are sun-loving flowers in bloom, you will need to find a moss that likes sunshine.
    Remember, that is an estimate or general guide that applies to natural conditions and is not accurate as lab testing.

    Nothing is more comfortable to lie on then a thick moss bed. I wish you luck.
     
  14. terrestrial_man

    terrestrial_man Active Member 10 Years

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    In reading through this thread so far I am wondering if the area that you are trying to grow moss in is a natural area or is it an area that has been landscaped or otherwise created with fill?

    Since you are in the Vancouver area you could easily travel out to a forest where you could find mosses growing and make some excellent observations as to the soil conditions upon which they are occurring. Different kinds of mosses occur under different kinds of soil conditions. Sometimes areas that appear free of mosses will "sprout" mosses after the winter rains.

    You need to decide what kinds of mosses you want to grow and then if you can identify the kind of soil, substrate, that the plant is occurring upon in nature then you can begin the task of altering your proposed growing area to suit the plants in question.

    I would recommend that you try growing the moss in a pot first.
    The easiest way to find mosses is to go to your local nursery and see if you can find any potted plants with mosses growing in the pots. Then see if you can relocate these mosses into a smaller
    pot such as a 4" square pot by cutting a square of the soil with the surface moss and plugging it into the new pot.
    The most important thing with moss for me is water quality. Rain water or distilled water or R/O water are needed. While mosses are generally associated with lots of water some drying between watering is not harmful and with some species is essential.

    As you modify the soil characteristics of the plot that you want to grow your moss in and as you master the cultivation of moss in a pot you should be able to develop the sensitivity of just when the conditions will be appropriate for either using plugs of cultivated mosses or the "buttermilk" technique.

    I also recommend that you snag a text or two on mosses that will enhance your appreciation of the plants.

    (note-the image by my name is of a moss species that grows under a plant of Selaginella sanguinolenta appressa which itself is a very small or miniature species.)
     
  15. fern2

    fern2 Active Member

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    Wow, thanks guys. I thought I'd heard the last of this thread (at least until I tried growing my moss) but this is great!

    Let me see if I can answer a few of your questions...
    -The area I'm hoping to grow the moss in is a 50-80yr old corner of my yard that used to hold a sad patch of grass + moss + some kind of slime. I'm now in the process of digging up the area so that I can replant it as a PNW native garden.
    -It's fairly moist year round due to the underground stream running under a nearby corner of the garden.
    -Even though the soil was covered with unhappy grass and dandilions + buttercups (& clover?), I still think the pH is probably lower than it seems because the patch is located under & adjacent to an old (60-100yr) hemlock tree. Nonetheless, I'm planning to add some fine cedar or doug fir mulch from a friend's patch o' forest to ensure that I'm approximating the soil chemistry & organisms correctly - so I assume that should help with any pH problems, right?
    -I'm also planning to throw in some compost from our backyard bin to enrich the soil since the grey (clay-based) soil that's been trapped underneath the sad turf for more than 1/2 a century probably isn't very condusive to lush plant growth. (ironically, however, the few handfuls of compost I threw down at the beginning of the summer have actually yielded two surprisingly vigorous & fruit-bearing tomato plants in the middle of my front yard - although I don't know what that says about the soil in general...)
    -Right now, the area gets morning and some early afternoon sun, but I'm designing the native garden to include both heavy shade and bright light sections so that I can put in both types of plants. Obviously, the shadier wetter end of the garden would get the deep forest mosses (& more of'em) whereas the sunnier drier end would get some 'edge' mosses. Of course, it's clearly going to take a lot more research on my part to figure out which species of each I can & want to propagate, particularly if I want to stay true to my PNW plan. Sigh.

    Thankfully, adding moss will be one of the last things that I do for this garden, so I've still got enough time to follow terrestrial_man's suggestion about planting small 'cuttings' of different mosses to see which will grow where etc.

    Anyway, these are AMAZING suggestions. Thank you all. I really appreciate this. I'm not a TOTAL gardening newbie but I'm also not sticking to the usual 'begonias & pansies from Safeway' gardening that most people satisfy themselves with - so I definitely need all the help I can get. :)

    This weekend is supposed to be gorgeous so I plan to get into that patch of garden, mix in the compost & mulch, and hopefully even get some of my plants into the ground. Wish me luck!

    Thanks again!!!
     

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