Create An Indoor Moss Garden

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Moss has a woodland, natural appeal that brings to mind a walk through a green, misty forest. You can bring that same look inside your home by planting a moss garden. Moss looks great in a country, lodge, rustic or eco-decorated home, providing a charming, natural style that is a nice switch from more traditional houseplants. It’s not difficult to plant a moss garden, and it’s also quite easy to care for.

  • Belonging to the family Bryophyta, there are approximately 12,000 species of moss, and there are varieties found on every continent.
  • Moss is one of the very first green plants to have evolved, and has a much more simple structure than most higher plants. Lacking roots, true leaves, strong stems and flowers, moss grows in small, spreading clumps, and reproduces by spores.
  • Most moss likes a moist environment and a shady location, though there are varieties that tolerate sun and drier conditions.

Moss Garden Containers

You can grow your moss in any container that is suitable for holding moist soil, and has drainage. A shallow terracotta bowl is ideal, or choose an interesting glazed bonsai pot, a glass bowl or a wooden box. Rustic and natural is the look to aim for. If you want to jazz up a plain terracotta pot, you can find strips of birch bark or burlap at the craft store, and glue a section to cover the outside of your container.

Moss Garden Substrate

Your moss requires moist, slightly acidic conditions for optimum growth. Starting at the bottom of the container, you will have four layers:

  1. Start with a 1 to 2 inch layer of gravel
  2. Next is a thin layer of activated charcoal (you can get this in the aquarium supply section of your local pet store)
  3. Place a thin layer of sphagnum moss over the charcoal
  4. Top with at least 1 to 2 inches of good quality potting soil

Where To Find Moss

If you live in a moist, cool area, you may very well have moss growing in your backyard or surrounding areas. If so, you can harvest a bit of the moss for your indoor garden. Use a hand trowel to scrape a small sampling of moss, taking care to lift a little bit of the underlying soil with the plant. If you can find a few different types of moss, your garden will be even more interesting. Remember, you cannot remove moss or other plants from public land, or private land without permission.

If you don’t live in an area where moss grows naturally, you can probably find a few varieties at your local nursery, or online from a moss specialty website. Two websites specializing in moss are:

Some varieties of moss you can grow include:

  • Cushion moss
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Frog moss
  • Reindeer moss
  • Spanish moss
  • Feather moss
  • Mood moss

Plant The Moss

Once you have your container ready, and your moss on hand, it’s time to plant. Moss doesn’t have roots, so you do not need to dig into the soil. Mist the clump of moss with filtered water, then gently press the greenery down on the spot where you want it to grow. You can rearrange your grouping of moss until you find an arrangement that pleases you. If you want to break up the appearance of the moss, you can plant a small fern in the arrangement for height and interest.

Moss Garden Decorative Accents

Once your moss is in place, and any other small plants or ferns are planted, you can add little decorative touches to your garden to enhance the woodland theme. Have some fun, and let your imagination walk through the forest. You could create a little riverbed with small pebbles and gravel, or place small, interesting twigs upright to function as “trees.” Pretty stones or tiny pinecones would also look nice. Or visit your local craft store, and purchase small, ceramic animals such as:

  • Deer
  • Rabbits
  • Skunks
  • Foxes
  • Wolves
  • Bears
  • Raccoons

Set one or two animal figures in your garden, positioning them to create a lifelike scenario.

If you don’t want to play up the woodland aspect of your garden, but do want to set off the moss, another option would be small pieces of smooth, water-worn glass, marbles or crystals. Position a few crystals among the clumps of moss, run a little river of marbles through the container’s center, or highlight the edges of the pot with a few pieces of worn, colored glass.

Moss Garden Maintenance

Once you have your moss garden planted and decorated to your liking, it’s easy to care for. Spray it thoroughly with filtered water immediately after planting, and keep it in a spot that receives indirect light. A south or east facing window that provides indirect, bright light is ideal. Keep your moss away from heat sources, fans or intense light.

For the first few days, mist your moss several times per day, and feel the soil to be certain it is moist. As the moss anchors itself firmly to the soil, you can cut back misting to just once per day. Check each day, and if the moss feels dry, give it a spraying. You don’t want the soil to be soggy or sour, but it should never dry completely out either. If your moss starts rotting, developing mushy, black spots or a sour smell, cut back on the water and remove the mushy areas.

Your moss garden will require little care beyond misting. If the moss clumps grow too big, you can trim them with a small scissor or pruner to keep growth in check. Beyond that, just enjoy the cool, green beauty of this most ancient plant.

Last Updated: August 12, 2012
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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