- Where can mosses be found?
- Moss life cycle
- How many species of moss are there?
- How big do mosses get?
- Why are mosses important?
- How Moss Works
- Moss – An Amazing Plant
- Mosses and liverworts
- Oceanic ravines: an introduction to their special plants
- Moss in Your Landscape
- What is Moss?
- What is its life cycle?
- What are some of the common types of Moss in the Home Landscape?
- How can you control unwanted moss in your Lawn?
- Additional Resource
- Why Moss?
- Is Moss a Weed?
- 1. Common Haircap
- 2. Fern Moss
- 3. Heath Star Moss
- 4. Baby Tooth Moss
- 5. Pincushion Moss
- 6. American Tree Moss
- 7. Mood Moss
- 8. Shiny Seductive Moss
- 9. Plume Moss
- 10. Spoon-Leaved Moss
- 11. Ribbed Bog Moss
- 12. Hypnum Moss
- 13. Common Peat Moss
- 14. Feather Moss
- 15. Juniper Moss
- 16. Fire Moss
- 17. Shaggy Moss
- 18. Sand Beauty
- 19. Warnstorf’s Peat Moss
- 20. Tousled Treasure
- Moss Imposters
- Garden Moss Types: Varieties Of Moss For Gardens
- Different Types of Moss
- Moss Varieties for the Garden
Mosses are a phylum of non-vascular plants. They produce spores for reproduction instead of seeds and don’t grow flowers, wood or true roots. Instead of roots, all species of moss have rhizoids. The mosses sit within a division of plants called the Bryophyta under the sub-division Musci.
Where can mosses be found?
Mosses have spread all around the world and are found in wet environments such as rainforests, wetlands and alpine ecosystems. They are also common in urban areas with a wet climate and often establish on driveways, sidewalks, brick walls and other man-made structures. Mosses require water to reproduce which is why they struggle to survive in drier climates.
Moss life cycle
Although mosses are very primitive plants, their life cycle is in many ways very similar to all other land plants in that they have an alternation of generations. All land plants have alternating generations where one generation (the gametophyte generation) has half the genetic material as the second generation (the sporophyte).
The gametophyte is produced when spores released from the sporophyte establish and begin dividing. When gametophytes are covered in a thin film of water, sperm cells are able to travel from one gametophyte to another and fertilize an eggs. The fertilised egg then develops into the sporophyte, which will in turn produce spores. The gametophyte is the dominant generation and the sporophyte is only able to survive due to the water and nutrients provided by the gametophyte. This is the opposite of almost all other land plants.
How many species of moss are there?
There are approximately 14,500 species of moss in the world which constitutes around 75% of all Bryophyte species.
How big do mosses get?
Mosses are limited in size by their poor ability to transport water because they have no vascular tissue. They are usually less than an inch in height and the tallest species in the world can only grow up to 50 cm (20 inches). A spongy mat of moss is made up of thousands of tiny individual mosses that group together to increase their absorption and retention of water.
Why are mosses important?
Mosses are important for a number of reasons and from many different aspects of life on Earth. For insects and other invertebrates, mosses can provide a great habitat and source of food. At a larger scale, mosses perform a number of functions that help ecosystems perform effectively such as filtering and retaining water, stabilizing the ground and removing CO2‚ from the atmosphere.
Humans have also utilized mosses for a number of reasons. Traditionally, moss has been used for packing food, helping to insulate houses, and peat formed from semi-decomposed Sphagnum moss was used as a fuel in the Northern Hemisphere. More recently, mosses have been used in the florist trade.
Last edited: 23 May 2015
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How Moss Works
So, if mosses lack the roots, internal vessels and seeds common in flowering plants and trees, how exactly do they survive?
Mosses absorb water and nutrients in a couple of ways. Some have highly absorbent surfaces that allow them to draw in moisture and minerals from the water that flows over the outside of the plant. Others are able to pull these materials up the external surface of the rhizoids and to the stem thanks to a principle known as capillary action. This phenomenon occurs when the adhesive force of the water molecules to the rhizoids is stronger than the cohesive force between the water molecules. You’ve probably seen this same principle in action in your kitchen; it’s what draws water up the fibers of a paper towel.
Once the water and minerals move into the leaves and stem, they’re either transported through cells or between cells, depending on the type of moss. The water finds its way to the leaves, where photosynthesis occurs. Here’s a little primer on photosynthesis: It’s kind of like baking cookies (yum), only instead of flour, eggs, and chocolate chips as ingredients, the plant uses carbon dioxide and water. Both processes need an energy source to begin: For cookies, it’s heat from an oven; for moss, it’s sunlight. When the kitchen timer goes off, you have warm cookies and a great smelling house; when photosynthesis is complete, the product is sugar and oxygen. The moss releases the oxygen into the air, but the sugar combines with the minerals to form substances that help the plant grow and reproduce.
And speaking of reproduction, moss has a pretty handy way of accomplishing this feat as well. Remember how the stem and leaves of the plant are known as a gametophyte? Well, before sexual reproduction can begin, vase-shaped archegonia, which produce eggs, develop at the tips of female gametophytes, while antheridia, which produce sperm, develop at the ends of male gametophytes. Sperm from the antheridia swims through water to fertilize eggs in the archegonia (this is a big reason why moss prefers moist climates).
Once the egg is fertilized, a sporophyte soon develops in the female plant. If you remember from the previous page, the sporophyte is the structure with a tall, thin stalk supporting a little brown capsule with a hatlike operculum. The capsule produces spores, which are essentially the equivalent of the seeds found in flowering plants and trees. As the capsule dries out and matures, the operculum pops open and releases spores that are carried away by the wind. If the spore comes to rest in a nice moist spot, it germinates and grows into a new gametophyte.
Sometimes mosses reproduce asexually, as well, meaning they skip the whole process described above. With the right amount of moisture, pieces of moss can break off, move by wind or water, and, amazingly, grow into new plants.
But why just sit around here and talk about how moss grows when you can conduct your own moss-growing experiment in your backyard?
Home > Moss Information > Introduction
Moss – An Amazing Plant
Since they obtain all their nutrients from the air (moss has no true roots), moss plants require nothing more than shade, acidic soil, and adequate moisture to flourish. All moss plants need is a firm soil bed in a location with adequate shade. It is also imperative that the area in which moss plants will be grown is blown or swept clear of any existing plants, leaves or debris. Moss also seems to prefer poor quality soils with low nutrient levels.
Before utilizing moss as part of your shade gardening plans, the soil bed for the moss plants should first be tested to ensure that the pH is between 5.0 and 6.0 (lower is o.k. – 6.5 is max., but not ideal). If necessary, the soil for the moss can easily be amended with our wettable sulfur to lower the pH to the desired range. Once the moss is placed onto the soil, the sections of moss plants must be tamped firmly into position and watered regularly for the first 2-3 weeks. Detailed, yet simplistic transplanting directions are included with each moss order.
To see all our available books and videos about moss
Janet Belding writes – Letting go of the Lawn
Rachel Sullivan ABC Science writes – Moss Plants regrown after 400 Years in freezer
Next: Landscape Design Ideas and Uses For Moss >>
Mosses and liverworts
Mosses and liverworts are tiny plants that produce spores instead of flowers and seeds. Mosses and liverworts do differ, but they share enough important characteristics to be known collectively as bryophytes.
Around since before the dinosaurs, mosses and liverworts find the ideal conditions in Scotland, with its diverse landscape and cooler climate. Despite their small size, our 977 moss and liverwort species play a hugely important role in the health of our environment and how it functions. This is due to Scotland’s diverse landscape and a climate influenced strongly by the Atlantic Ocean. Relatively warm winters and cool, wet summers, especially on the west coast, provide perfect conditions for these little plants.
A huge variety of mosses and liverworts festoon the woodland floors and tree branches of our western oakwoods. Fragrant liverworts may impart a sweet and peppery perfume. Bryophytes provide homes for tiny woodland creatures. Together, they also act as a giant sponge, slowing the flow of rain into burns and rivers, and helping to protect against flash floods.
At an even larger scale, mosses are the building material of Scotland’s vast areas of blanket bog. Peat formed from the remains of dead mosses, chiefly sphagnum mosses, has provided an important source of fuel for Highland communities. More importantly, we now know that mosses can lock up huge amounts of carbon in peat, making them vital to carbon management.
Scotland’s west coast mountain slopes are home to an important community of bryophytes called oceanic heath or Scottish liverwort heath. This type of heath is rare outside Scotland, which gives us a special responsibility to protect it from damage due to burning and other threats. One species, the delicate Northern Prongwort, is known from only one site on Earth, the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve. Luckily it is abundant and well protected here.
Threats to mosses and liverworts
Some of the greatest threats are the:
- loss of undisturbed habitats through land-use change
- swamping out of many important woodland species by the highly invasive non-native shrub, Rhododendron ponticum
Protection of mosses and liverworts
Some moss and liverwort species are rare and run the risk of decline or extinction if we don’t manage our environment properly.
All wild plants are protected species to some degree. A number of mosses and liverworts that occur in Scotland, including green shield-moss and petalwort, have added protection.
Discover how Scotland’s wild plants and fungi are protected.
How you can help bryophytes
- Get involved in recording groups to learn about bryophytes and help us to better understand where they’re found.
- If you own or manage land, locate the important areas for mosses and liverworts, and consider them in your management plans.
- Take care not to let rhododendron and other invasive plants spread from your garden into nearby woodland.
- Take steps to reduce your personal contribution to climate change.
Find out more
Naturally Scottish: Mosses and Liverworts
SNH Commissioned Report 421 – Assessing the impacts of small scale hydroelectric schemes on rare bryophytes and lichens.
View our short film on Oceanic ravines: an introduction to their special plants:
Oceanic ravines: an introduction to their special plants
Steep wooded ravines in the west of Scotland are beautiful examples of our Celtic Rainforest. In this video SNH’s David Genney gives an introduction to the character of these hidden places and to the special plants for which this cool rainforest is so important. The film was also developed as an information and training video to help hydro developers better understand the potential impacts of water abstraction on an internationally important assemblage of mosses and liverworts.
Credit: Scottish Natural Heritage
Moss in Your Landscape
Typically, every year HGIC receives questions regarding moss in home lawns. Many homeowners have healthy growths of moss even in bright sunny exposures. The key to moss’s success is if we experience an abundance of wet, cool spring weather. Moss is an under-appreciated plant that deserves a closer look. Consider that moss is able to thrive in compacted, low fertility, poor drainage soil and can be quite attractive. Such a tough plant deserves more credit. There are many different species, some amazing color shades and textures, and all are very carefree to grow. Here are a few facts to help you learn more about this interesting little plant.
What is Moss?
There are over 15,000 species of mosses found all over the world wherever there is moisture. They are part of a subdivision of non-flowering plants known as Bryophytes. Unlike other green plants, moss has no true vascular system. They absorb and translocate what they need directly from cell to cell by ‘osmosis’. Mosses do not have traditional roots but still achieve the same function with root-like structures called rhizoids that are actually tiny parts of the stem. Instead of true leaves they have needles and scales of various sizes, shapes and colors.
What is its life cycle?
The moss life cycle is quite different from higher flowering plants. Mosses reproduce by spores – sexual reproductive cells that develop from the centers of rosettes of leaves at the tips of shoots. Water transfers the male cells to fertilize the female reproductive cells (eggs) that after fertilization become spore containing capsules. When mature, the capsules release their fine contents onto moist soil, logs or rocks and produce new moss plants.
What are some of the common types of Moss in the Home Landscape?
Sheet Moss (Hypnum spp.) a moss that typically grows flat on rocks, logs and soil. It can be easily peeled back like a cloth.
Rock Cap Moss (Dicranum spp.) a common type of moss that forms clumps on the ground.
Hair Cap Moss (Polytrichum spp.) another clump forming moss that is often found growing directly on the soil.
Cushion Moss (Leucobynum spp. ) another clump-forming moss that grows directly on the soil.
Sphagnum Moss (Sphagnum spp.) There are actually about 50 species in North America. Sphagnum mosses are the largest of the mosses and come in a range of colors; including green, reddish orange, and golden yellow. Sphagnum mosses are usually found in very wet areas such as stream, lake or pond edges, or marsh land. Over many years it grows into and fills up the body of water creating a ‘bog’. The peat moss is so acidic that it is sterile. It was used during the civil war as a wound dressing. Ancient peat bogs in Ireland that are now dry land are routinely harvested for making peat logs to burn in fireplaces and stoves. Sphagnum peat moss is shredded, baled and sold to gardeners to improve soil structure.
How can you control unwanted moss in your Lawn?
Moss is usually found in the shade, but sometimes in full sun if the soil is very moist. The key to moss control starts with a healthy lawn. Moss is not killing your grass but is moving into areas where the grass is thinning out due to poor growing conditions for the lawn.
- Correct soil drainage problems.
- Test your soil once every three years. Maintain the soil pH at around 6.5, maintain the proper levels of plant nutrients: Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium.
- Prune trees and shrubs to allow more light to filter in and to improve
- To eliminate moss from lawns, rake with a steel rake until moss is removed and bare ground is exposed. Apply the recommended amount of fertilizer and lime (according to your soil test), and improve the soil by adding organic matter. Sow grass seed and water daily, keeping the top layer of soil moist but not saturated.
- See (PDF) HG 100 Moss Control in Home Lawns for more information on moss control.
Growing up in Seattle, I was raised to view moss as a menacing by-product of damp weather. My father waged an ongoing battle against the moss that crept into the lawn. But by the time I had my own garden, I had come to think that moss should be allowed to flourish. Was I lazy, or wising up to the value of moss?
Moss is your friend–in so many ways. It provides erosion control; adds moisture-holding capability and nutrients to soil; purifies rainwater, and beautifies areas where other plants won’t grow. It is a low maintenance plant, with only two real needs: shade and moisture.
Without a root system, moss gets moisture through its leaves, so keeping it debris free is also important. And, some varieties prefer poor compact soil, a perfect solution for those hard-to-grow spots in the garden.
Love moss or hate it? Tell me why in the comment section below.
Above: Moss has long been treasured for use in Japanese gardens. There are more than 20,000 different species. At Kyoto’s Silver Temple (Ginkakuji), a display shows some of the mosses that are used in the formal garden. In Japanese, the sign reads “Ginkakuji’s valued moss.” Fun was had with the English translation. Image by birdfarm via Flickr.
Above: One of the most common varieties is Sheet Moss (Hypnum) that iseasy to cultivate and stands up to foot traffic, a good choice to use on around and between stepping stones. It forms a low dense mat, making it a favored lawn alternative; $29.99 for five pounds (covers 5 square feet) at TN Native Tree & Plant Nursery.
Above: Cushion Moss (Leucobryum) is sometimes referred to as white moss as it changes color from lush vibrant green when moist to a silvery green when dry. Hardy in most zones in the US, it grows in humped, almost ball-like forms and is great to use for indoor terrariums as well as out in the garden; $29.99 for five pounds (covers 5 square feet) at TN Native Tree & Plant Nursery.
Above: Another clumping variety, vivid green Rock Cap Moss thrives on top of rocks or soil with anchoring structures that hold it in place; $95 for 5 square feet of clumps at Moss Acres. Image via East Side Patch.
Above: Small and velvety to touch, Ceratodon Moss is a good choice for green roofs and between walkway pavers; $35 for a 10-by-20-inch tray at Mountain Moss. Image via the Portland Press Herald.
Above: A slightly larger variety, Lesser Smooth Cap Moss (Atrichum angustatum) is recommended for growing in the cracks of stones and patios. It is a relatively drought-tolerant moss that grows stiff burgundy tendrils in the fall. Image via Levens Garden.
I’ve always been fascinated by moss. The way it grows close to the ground and in clumps or mats is so unlike anything else. I’ve always felt drawn to gardens that utilize moss, and finding it growing wild feels like a treat. Mosses grow nearly anywhere, and there are so many different types of moss, it’s easy to stumble upon this type of plant life.
The popularity of moss in gardening first began in Japanese gardens, and today, it’s a popular choice for rock gardens and ground cover. Because most moss spreads in a carpeted fashion and is low maintenance, it’s an excellent alternative to grass when you want something green.
If you’re as enamored as I am with moss, you’ve probably considered using it in your own garden. It can seem daunting since it doesn’t grow like a typical rooted plant, and there are so many varieties to pick from. Don’t be discouraged. We’ll help you pick the perfect type of moss for your space.
Moss is a flowerless type of greenery without roots. It’s low-growing and often – but not always – thrives in moist areas. Typically, it spreads via spores. There are over 10,000 species of moss so we won’t cover all of them here, but there’s a moss variety suitable for your needs.
Moss has been around for a long time. It was one of the earliest plants to emerge on land 540 million years ago, along with algae and mushrooms.
What’s the point of using moss? First of all, it’s an attractive low-lying garden plant that helps fill in bare spots in a rock garden or spaces between stepping stones. Second, it’s low maintenance and can even grow on rocks, depending on the variety.
Moss is beautiful as a filler in floral arrangements. It’s also often used in decorative terrariums and to retain soil moisture in indoor and outdoor planters.
Peat moss, in particular, is used in gardening and agriculture because of its moisture retention qualities. If you’re thinking about using peat moss, read up on the pros and cons of using it.
Mosses work as a lawn substitute in areas where the weather and conditions are right. If you’re tired of mowing your lawn, a moss might be the answer to your problems. Pick the right, quick-spreading option, and you’ll never need to mow again.
Moss is also often used in green roof designs because of its capability to tolerate drought and absorb water. Moss requires little feeding and is overall a low maintenance type of greenery, which makes it an excellent option for those who don’t want to spend a lot of time dealing with upkeep.
Is Moss a Weed?
If you’re trying to grow a perfect green lawn, you may not be too happy when moss creeps into the picture. But I wouldn’t classify it as a weed. Most types of moss don’t do well in competition with other plant species, and few species of moss are considered invasive.
A downside of moss? In seed starting, moss can hinder growth. The key to prevent moss proliferation in a nursery setting is to encourage drainage and avoid overwatering. A low pH may also promote moss growth.
Is there any reason I might not want moss in my yard or around my home?
Nope, it’s harmless. Even the spores don’t pose any danger to humans. Because moss is attracted to moisture, however, you may want to investigate further if it’s growing close to your home without any effort on your part.
When talking about the types of moss out there, there are two main classes. Pleurocarpous are quick-growing mosses with a creeping habit. They’re the best type of mosses for rock gardens because they’re able to attach themselves to hard surfaces and they’re low-growing. Acrocarpous mosses grow upright and grow in mounds rather than in carpets. They’re slower growing than pleurocarpous varieties.
Here are 20 types of moss to consider for your next garden project.
1. Common Haircap
Scientific name: Polytrichum commune
Characteristics: A frilly bright green moss that’s capable of growing up to 16 inches tall. This moss looks like a sea of mini evergreens. It grows almost anywhere, in USDA zones 2-15. It’s particularly good as a lawn replacement or between pavers.
2. Fern Moss
Image via James St. John
Scientific name: Thuidium delecatulum
Characteristics: Also known as log moss, this variety grows quite fast and is capable of growing on rocks. In its dried form, it’s often used by florists in floral arrangements. It’s a particularly easy-to-grow variety, and stunning in the garden thanks to its vibrant green color and velvety texture.
3. Heath Star Moss
Scientific name: Campylopus introflexus
Characteristics: Native to areas of South America, this type of moss features leaves with a star-like appearance. Watch out, while pretty, this moss is considered invasive as it spreads quickly. It’s unlikely, however, to spread as quickly as a ‘weed’ might.
4. Baby Tooth Moss
Scientific name: Plagiomnium cuspidatum
Characteristics: Named for its sharp-toothed leaves, this moss prefers cooler weather and partial shade. It can grow in everything from clay to sand and even on rock surfaces. The leaves have an almost transparent appearance and look succulent-like.
5. Pincushion Moss
Scientific name: Luecobryum glaucum
Characteristics: There’s a reason for its name! It looks much like a pin cushion. The tight little mound of moss could easily act as a resting place for sewing implements. The foliage of this type of moss is blueish green. It grows between 1 to 4 inches tall and can spread up to 20 inches in diameter.
6. American Tree Moss
Scientific name: Climacium americanum
Common name: American tree moss
Characteristics: This moss gets its name not because it tends to grow on trees but because the little clumps resemble a forest of trees. Older mounds may grow up to 5-inches in height. Suitable for semi-shaded locales.
7. Mood Moss
Scientific name: Dicranum scoparium
Characteristics: A gorgeous bright green variety that has a quintessential moss-like appearance. Mood moss grows in mounds and is perfect for shady rock gardens. In areas with too much sun, the moss is likely to burn. Avoid placing it in extremely moist areas. Unfortunately, despite its groovy name, mood moss doesn’t change colors like a mood ring.
8. Shiny Seductive Moss
Scientific name: Entodon seductrix
Also known as: Shiny sexy moss
Characteristics: A moss with an odd name that grows close to the ground and spreads rapidly. Great for establishing cover for green roofs or bare rock gardens. Unlike many types of moss, this one loves the full sun.
9. Plume Moss
Scientific name: Ptilium crista-castrensis
Characteristics: Feather-like in appearance this type of moss grows in patches and features leaves under 1-inch long. It’s particularly pretty as a decorative element in indoor plants.
10. Spoon-Leaved Moss
Scientific name: Bryandersonia illecebra
Characteristics: Has a low-growing cushion-like habit and features long, odd-shaped cylindrical foliage. This type of moss offers a vital habitat for different amphibians. It’s a long-lived moss that prefers humus-rich soil.
11. Ribbed Bog Moss
Scientific name: Aulacomnium palustre
Characteristics: Leaves of this moss may feature a yellowish tinge and have a hairy appearance. Because the yellow leaves appear to be glowing yellow in some light, it has earned the nickname “glow moss.”
12. Hypnum Moss
Scientific name: Hypnum cupressiforme
Characteristics: This widespread moss exists everywhere on earth except for Antarctica. It’s highly tolerant of a variety of environments. It grows in clumps and looks a lot like a mini forest of Cyprus trees.
13. Common Peat Moss
Scientific name: Sphagnum centrale
Characteristics: Common peat moss is a variety that grows in swamps or bogs and features a yellow-green coloring. This type works well as a replacement for a lawn.
14. Feather Moss
Scientific name: Hypnum imponens
Characteristics: Feather moss is best grown in shade or part-shade and prefers acidic soil. Leaves are lime green in color but may vary between green to yellow. Feather moss is an ideal variety for rock gardens.
15. Juniper Moss
Scientific name: Polytrichum juniperinum
Characteristics: Juniper moss has an upright growing habit and reaches up to 5 inches high. It’s found all over the world but prefers acidic soils and dry habitats.
16. Fire Moss
Scientific name: Ceratodon purpureus
Characteristics: Another aptly named moss with green tips that give way to brownish reddish tinge closer to the ground. Fire moss grows in tufts. It’s also sometimes known as purple moss.
17. Shaggy Moss
Scientific name: Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus
Characteristics: Also known as electrified cat tail moss, this type of moss has a sprawling growth habit and features dark green foliage. Shaggy moss grows about 4-inches in height.
18. Sand Beauty
Scientific name: Racomitrium canescens
Characteristics: Sand beauty is a low-growing moss that’s incredibly drought tolerant. When faced with a lack of water, this pretty moss changes to a paler green. It works well for shaded areas, too.
19. Warnstorf’s Peat Moss
Scientific name: Sphagnum warnstorfii
Characteristics: A pretty moss with coloring that changes depending on the amount of sunlight it receives. In the sun, carpets of Warnstorf’s peat moss are a deep red. In the shade, the stems remain green. It grows close to the ground.
20. Tousled Treasure
Scientific name: Callicladium haldanianum
Characteristics: Tousled treasure is a wispy moss that does well in semi-shaded spots and is suitable for rock gardens. The low-growing moss may change color when exposed to sun, developing a reddish tinge.
There are plenty of non-mosses out there that are mistaken for the real deal. Plants that often get misidentified or mislabelled include lichens, hornworts, and liverworts. None of these are mosses.
Reindeer moss is actually a lichen, for instance. Spanish moss is another imposter that looks a lot like moss, has moss in its name, but isn’t actually a real moss.
For gardening purposes, however, even moss imposters have value and can be used to add texture and interest to rock gardens.
Thankfully, there are plenty of true moss types to choose from. Which type of moss did you settle on for your garden project? Did you find moss to be an attractive and helpful addition to your rock garden? Any tips you’d like to share with fellow gardeners? Share them in the comments section!
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Garden Moss Types: Varieties Of Moss For Gardens
Moss is the perfect choice for that spot where nothing else will grow. Thriving on just a little bit of moisture and shade, they actually prefer compacted, poor-quality soil and will even be happy with no soil at all. Keep reading for more information about different types of moss and how they can fit into your garden.
Different Types of Moss
There are 22,000 varieties of moss worldwide, so you have quite a few options. A good way to narrow down your choices in what garden moss types to use is to determine what you want to do with your moss. Nothing says a lawn has to be grassy, and a damp, highly shaded yard, in particular, may perform much better with a type of moss that can handle high foot traffic. Moss lawns are attractive too.
Moss can also be used as the lowest level in a shade garden to make for another tier in an arrangement of differing heights. It can provide color and texture between bricks and paving stones. It can also be the centerpiece of your garden, particularly if different varieties are used and different heights are achieved with the placement of stones.
Moss Varieties for the Garden
There are a few moss varieties that are especially popular for home cultivation.
- Sheet moss is very easy to grow and can withstand foot traffic, making it an excellent choice for a lawn alternative or breakup between paving stones.
- Ceratodon moss is also good between stones.
- Cushion moss grows up to form a ball-like structure that changes color from dry to wet, making it a good choice for a more moss-centric garden.
- Rock cap moss clings to stones. It’s good for mossy gardens or accents on stones in flower gardens.
- Haircap moss grows relatively tall and looks like a tiny forest. It provides a good height contrast against other moss.
- Fern moss is fast-growing and strong and another good grass alternative in shady yards.
Now that you know a little more about moss for gardens, why not experiment with growing some for your landscape.