A General Guide to Caring For Moss

A General Guide to Caring For Moss

Table of Contents

  1. Key Points
  2. Storing Your Moss in the Interim
  3. Soil & Substrate
  4. Substrate Recipe
  5. Light
  6. Water
  7. Growth & Propagation

Key Points

  • Moss is best suited to sealed environments such as terrariums and vivariums. Sealed environments produce the best results when it comes to regulating humidity which is essential to keeping moss alive
  • Moss will not tolerate any sort of direct sunlight for very long
  • Rain or demineralised water is best, if using tap water boil for 15 minutes
  • Do not use regular potting mix! A hand made substrate is essential.
  • Layering soil and using charcoal isn't essential
  • Ideal temperature for moss is 18 - 25 degrees Celsius
  • Moss can be broken apart (divided) by hand or scissors in order to get the right sized pieces for your project and will not need to recover

Storing Your Moss in the Interim

While you wait for materials or inspiration for your moss project, it's best to transport your moss from our container or bag into a plastic tub with a lid that allows for at least 5cm to 10cm headroom so that the air inside can circulate and the moss isn't being suffocated.

If you can't get your hands on a tub, our container or bag will suffice though you will want to monitor the humidity levels and open it from time to time to allow fresh air to enter. If it's feeling dry, a couple of squeezes of the mist bottle will be enough.

We recommend you add a small amount of substrate to either of these options in order to keep the humidity up. More on substrates below.

Soil & Substrate

The most commonly asked question I get asked is 

"What soil should I use in my terrarium?"

Great question. The answer is: Regular potting mix or dirt from the ground is a huge no-no! Using potting mix introduces mould, disease and all sorts of unknown contaminants that colonise and destroy everything inside a terrarium over time.

Don't get me wrong, good old soil is necessary for plants because it stores nutrients that they take up with their roots. Well, guess what? Mosses are rootless plants! Instead, they take up nutrients through their highly absorbent surfaces and they have rhizoids which are hair-like filaments that anchor the plant to a surface.

In short, a well lit, cool and humid environment is best for moss. This is because moss gets its nutrients from light and the atmospheric water particles within its micro-environment, not the soil. A sterile substrate - a fancy word for soil or bedding - is the best, if not the only soil option for a terrarium, vivarium or paludarium - basically, any sealed vessel that doesn't get any airflow - to prevent mould and disease while also retaining water which creates humidity.

Using an easy-to-make substrate mix, you will provide the perfect environment for your new moss plant to thrive within.

Before I go on, a question I think you might be thinking is,

"What about the nice soil layering I've been seeing in other peoples terrariums?"

The short answer is this: soil layering within a terrarium is for aesthetics and does nothing when it comes to filtering, draining and circulating water etc. Some of the same can be said about using charcoal, it doesn't provide water or atmospheric purification in any way. That said, you can layer all the ingredients used in this substrate recipe to create an aesthetically appealing terrarium if you want to and it won't negatively impact the environment within the vessel. Feel free to experiment, use coloured sand etc, it's really up to you, but if you are a terrarium purist like me, you will opt to not layer and take the attention away from the reason we make terrariums: the plants and their moss plant buddies.

Let's make some substrate!

I suggest grabbing a hobby tub from your nearest hardware or office supply store so that you can make a batch of substrate that can be stored for a very long time. 

If you're only planning on making one terrarium worry not! This substrate can also be used with your tropical indoor plants. If you have some plants that aren't doing too well, why not try repotting them using this blend being sure to include the compost component, you won't be disappointed.

For those of you who wish to layer these components rather than mix them all together, I have listed each ingredient starting with the one you will put in first, until the one that will end up on top. If choosing this method, you will still use the 'parts' but don't overdo it, I see too many people using too much substrate in their terrariums.

Enough blab, here's the recipe!

  • 1 part - crushed (not dust) volcanic rock or pumice
  • 1 part - chopped up¬†sphagnum moss¬†(we want to avoid whole strands ending up in the mix)
  • 1 part - organic compost (optional if using plants, not required for moss)
  • 2 parts - coco coir

Light

Moss needs well lit indoor settings. It will not tolerate sunlight at all. It's best to have a bright light source such as an LED lamp or grow light to sit under for a few days a week at least. There are some great terrarium vessels that have lights incorporated into the lids on the market.

Water

As mentioned in the substrate section of this article, moss needs humidity. Rainwater or demineralised water will get the best results, however, you can use tap water but you will need to boil it for about 15 minutes to get rid of the chlorine which is known to discolour moss. 

Humidity and Temperature

Don't let your moss dry out for too long. Keep the humidity up! Temperature-wise 18¬į - 25¬į celsius is the ideal range, though it can withstand more or less in either direction for brief periods of time.

Growth & Propagation

Moss is a very slow grower, however, it has been shown to grow a lot faster under bright LED grow lights. Division is the best way to propagate moss. Breaking the moss into smaller colonies (pieces) and spacing them within a terrarium or clear hobby container will grow a lot faster than one single colony.

That's all!

If you need any materials or moss, do check out the range here.

If you have any questions, please feel free to message us on our instagram and give us a follow while you're at it, we regularly post updates regarding new stock and other important information. If that's not your thing you can use our contact form and we will be happy to help!

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