Growing moss on pots

Is there anything wrong with allowing moss to grow around herbs?

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Mulch can even make this potted cutting look elegant!

We’re all familiar with the idea of mulching our flower gardens, so why not also mulch your indoor houseplants? A well planted, healthy container garden can be the focal point of a room, so it’s important to put a little extra attention into design and overall appeal. A nice layer of mulch is a very simply finishing touch that transforms your houseplants from shabby to chic!

Why Mulch Houseplants?

I love to add mulch to my houseplants in order to:

    Sparkly glass marbles.

  • Give a clean appearance by hiding the soil. This is especially important for plants in the kitchen and those used as decorative focal points. Plants may be growing in dirt, but they don’t have to look dirty.
  • Dress up leggy plants and make the container look “finished.”
  • Prop up drooping stems and hold plants upright.
  • Discourage pets from digging in the soil, especially if you put a layer of mesh underneath the mulch.
  • Retain moisture so you will not need to water your plants as often.
  • Prevent weeds from germinating in the pot.
  • Keep soil from splashing out when watering plants.

Types of Mulch for Houseplants

Regular garden mulch is usually too heavy for indoor plants, but you can use all sorts of creative alternatives, such as:

    Dress up a plant . . .

  • Moss: Spanish moss (gray) or sheet moss (green) are popular choices for florist’s arrangements because they’re inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to use.
  • Stones: Decorative stones, pebbles, or marbles make attractive and clean looking mulch.
  • Nut Shells: Hulls from nuts, such as pistachio or pecan, can be crushed and recycled as mulch.
  • Coconut mulch: Available in blocks that are moistened before spreading. Can be used both indoors and out.
  • Living mulch: Tiny groundcovers, such as dwarf sedum or living mosses, make great mulches for houseplants.

How to Care for Mulched Houseplants

When adding mulch to houseplants, remember not to:

    . . . with river stones and moss.

  • Overwater: The biggest problem with mulching houseplants is that it’s easy to overwater. The water filters right through the mulch and the plant looks dry, but underneath you might have soggy or moldy garden soil. Don’t let the mulch make you lazy – pull it back and check the moisture level of the actual soil before watering.
  • Over Mulch: Just as with garden plants, don’t pile mulch up against the stems of your plants as it can cause them to rot.
    Instead, keep it thin and mostly decorative.

Further Information

  • How to Top-Dress Houseplants
  • How to Repot Houseplants
  • Beginner’s Guide to Caring for Houseplants
  • How to Water Houseplants (video)
  • How to Grow Houseplants in Low Light Conditions

From Martha’s Home to Yours: Moss Gardens

Paul Costello

Every year, a group of friends and I travel to Mount Desert Island, Maine, just before summer begins. We spend a long weekend eating, hiking, and visiting nurseries, and then planting the containers that adorn the stone terraces, retaining walls, and stairwells surrounding Skylands, my home there. We also fill the many faux-bois planters I have collected and that I keep inside the house, bringing, as it’s said, the outdoors in.

These containers are charming when planted with mosses, lichens, ferns, and small seedling trees, which grow in profusion everywhere on the heavily wooded acreage that surrounds Skylands. I also have a cutting garden that provides masses of flowers for the vases and urns in the living room, great hallways, and dining room. When cut, those lilies, delphiniums, dahlias, roses, Japanese anemones, lupines, and other flowers can last an entire long summer weekend indoors.

But it is the large and small woodland tableaux, planted in beautifully made concrete bowls, birdbaths, baskets, and other shapes simulating rustic wooden containers, that are admired and remarked upon most by visitors to the house. When one learns how to plant and care for these mini forests — and understands that little harm is done to the mosses, which are returned to the woods at the end of the season — the plantings become even more attractive.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of these potted moss gardens is collecting the materials. It requires us foragers to look at and study the woodland floor and to discover the incredible variety found there.

Welcoming Nature

The woodland near my home in Maine is lush with mosses, lichens, and ferns, which I pot in decorative containers. Later, everything is returned to the outdoors.

Gathering Moss

Antique French faux-bois (“fake-wood”) planters lend themselves perfectly to a miniature woodland collection found on the forest floor. I used an oversize concrete faux-bois basket for my interpretation of a scene from one of the forest treks we take every day. This 1930s birdbath is fitted with a custom-made galvanized-steel planting tray, which allows me to use the porous concrete vessel indoors without running the risk of water dripping on the floors and carpets. We even added a small decaying tree stump in this tableau, rather than disrupt the picturesque natural look.

Plants for a Small Forest

There are many materials that can be used to create these potted woodlands.


Plants in this botanical class, Bryopsida or Musci, thrive in moist, shady places. Although mosses have no roots, mature plants can have leaves and stems. In Maine, we have pincushion moss, plume moss, fire moss, bog moss, and many other kinds, varying in color, thickness, and texture. Mosses reproduce by casting spores. Any moss can be picked up in a mass and laid down on rich compost; the plants will live well indoors for months if misted regularly with water.


There are a number of beautiful mosslike creeping plants readily available if you don’t have a nearby source for true moss. Selaginella, baby’s tears (Soleirolia soleirolii), and Scotch moss (Sagina subulata ‘Aurea’) are convincing substitutes and also make good houseplants.


Although they often inhabit the same environments, lichens are not related to mosses. Lichens are composite organisms formed between fungi and algae or bacteria. The lichens that grow at Skylands include reindeer, yellow-green, big-horn or powderhorn, sunburst, and woolly foam, among others. Whether dry and brittle or damp from rain, lichens bring a totally different texture and color to these arrangements.


I also dig up baby ferns, newly sprouted from a recent dissemination of spores from a parent plant; interesting decaying roots and stumps; baby trees sprouting in the understory; and even oddly shaped rocks and pieces of wood.

On Display

On the terraces of the house, I plant similar miniature forests in giant concrete planters. This container was created in the early 20th century by Eric Ellis Soderholtz, a famous Maine artisan. The round stamp on the bowl is his mark.

Tips for Care

How to keep potted moss healthy and happy during its “visit” indoors.


Moss is very much a wild plant, so be careful about how much you take from woodland areas and where you collect it (it is illegal to take moss from national forests without a permit, for instance). In some areas, such as the Pacific Northwest, wild moss has been overcollected for the floral industry. Ask permission before harvesting moss on private land, and be sure to gather the plants in a sustainable, responsible fashion: Take only small amounts from any single colony so that the slow-growing plant can have a chance to regenerate.


Moss gardens are simple to construct. Put a layer of crushed stone or gravel in the bottom of a vessel for drainage. (Wide, shallow containers look best.) Top that with a layer of potting soil, and then add moss, stones, and plants in any arrangement that strikes your fancy.


Keep the soil moist. It isn’t necessary to have a drainage hole in the bottom of the pot, but be sure you don’t overwater and create a swamp (if necessary, you can tip out excess moisture from lighter containers after watering). Regular misting and a twice-weekly watering will keep the small gardens in good condition.


Some mosses like shade, and others require more sun. Pay attention to the location where your moss thrives in nature so that you can replicate the conditions in your house or garden as closely as possible.


Make a point of returning any wild mosses to where you found them once they start to fade. The plants should be able to rebound quickly and keep the colony going strong.

Wilderness at Hand

The giant two-piece birdbath (1920s French) is also lined with a galvanized-steel tub and is the perfect container for another woodland scene. There is quite a variety of plant material in this grouping, which includes a small fir seedling dug up from the understory of my woods — soon to be replanted.

Container Grown Moss – How To Grow Moss In A Pot

Mosses are fascinating little plants that form luxurious, bright green carpets, usually in shady, damp, woodland environments. If you can replicate this natural environment, you won’t have any trouble growing moss in plant pots. Read on for a step-by-step guide to growing moss in containers.

How to Grow Moss in a Pot

Growing moss in plant pots is easy. Find a wide, shallow container. Concrete or terracotta pots work well because they keep the soil cool, but other containers are also acceptable.

Gather your moss. Look for moss in your own garden, often found in damp spots under a dripping faucet or in a shady corner. If you don’t have moss, ask a friend or neighbor if you can harvest a small patch.

Never harvest moss from private land without permission and never harvest moss from public lands until you know the rules for that location. Foraging wild plants is illegal without a permit in some areas, including America’s national forests.

To harvest moss, simply peel it from the ground. Don’t worry if it breaks into pieces or chunks. Don’t over harvest. Leave a good amount in place so the moss colony can regenerate itself. Remember that moss is a relatively slow-growing plant.

Fill the pot with a good quality commercial potting soil, preferably one without added fertilizer. Mound the potting soil so the top is rounded. Moisten the potting mix lightly with a spray bottle.

Tear the moss into small pieces, and then press it firmly onto the moist potting soil. Place your container grown moss where the plant is exposed to a light shade or partial sunlight. Look for a spot where the plant is protected from sunlight during the afternoon.

Water container grown moss as needed to keep the moss green – usually a couple of times per week, or possibly more during hot, dry weather. Moss also benefits from an occasional spritz with a water bottle. Moss is resilient and usually bounces back if it gets too dry.

Moss doesn’t ask for much. Forget the fertilizers and pesticides; a little shade and moist soil are all it needs to grow well. It doesn’t even mind a little foot traffic. And some people love the soft feeling beneath their feet so much, they create and use quirky bath mats made of moss. Spread the green around with these three growing methods.

1. In a Container

Plant moss in a pot and either give it the spotlight or use it as filler among other flowers. Native miniature, like partridge berry and dwarf crested iris, complement it well thanks to their diminutive size and fun pops of color: When pairing plants, keep in mind that if the pot is in a shady spot, the moss’s neighbors should be shade-tolerant, too.

2. Beneath Your Feet

Ditch the lawn mower once and for all. This plant grows where grass doesn’t, and in some areas, gardeners simply substitute one for the other. Compared to grass, moss is much easier to care for, and it’s a healthy green year-round, making it an attractive alternative. Sheet moss, like Hypnum curvifolium, is perfect for newbies because of its resilience and ability to live beside most plants.

3. Across a Wall

Fill in the cracks of a ho-hum brick wall for a refreshing new look. Choose species that are heat-tolerant, like Ceratodon and Entodon, and hose the area down first. Then, nudge moss and a little soil into each fissure until they’re firmly in place. And remember, the more porous the surface, the more likely that the moss will take hold and thrive. This approach also works well for stony pathways.

Make It! Moss Letter DIY Decor Project

The Milkshake Myth

A lot of websites tell you to grab the nearest blender, toss in some moss, add a slug of buttermilk, and voila! But before you spread this slurry on the nearest wall and wait for a layer of green fluff to grow, set yourself up for success. The milkshake method is popular online, but these concoctions are occasionally tricky to grow. If you still hear a blender calling your name, use fresh moss rather than bagged and stick to porous surfaces. Growing moss this way isn’t impossible; it just takes a little extra planning. Good luck!

Want to make some DIY Mossy Pots with us? It’s a pretty easy project, but very rewarding in a lush, green kind of way. We’re going to show you how to make living moss paint, and how to apply this living paint to terra cotta pots or garden ornaments, that will grow over time to become lush, verdant little ecosystems – like a living piece of art!
Here are the supplies + things you’ll need:

  • a shady spot where the moss can grow and establish itself
  • a few un-glazed pots. If you can, get them wet the night before. The water will soak into the terra cotta so they’re not completely bone dry.
  • 2 cups live cultured buttermilk or plain natural yogurt
  • a bag of living moss you can find at the nursery (no dye, not preserved)
  • a blender
  • a few paintbrushes 1-3 inches wide, this assortment works great
  • a mister bottle filled with water and/or a garden hose mister attachment like this adjustable watering wand

Start by gathering new or used unglazed terra cotta or cement pots that you’d like to see covered in this green mossy life! You can get little creative here because the only limit is that the base be something porous that moss would naturally grow on. These pictures are great because they show a wide variety of different surfaces that the moss will grow on. You can see how varied your finished pots will look as they become more established with sprouting ferns, impatiens, and other shade-loving volunteers.

Some fun ideas for your base include an interesting shaped rock, driftwood (well-rinsed of saltwater), an figurine like this Roman goddess planter, bird bath, birdhouse, water fountain, Buddha head statue, wooden trellis, garden angel, toadstool, garden gnome, etc. Just make sure it’s either terra cotta or cement as the moss won’t stick to plastic or resin.

This is a really fun project to do with kids. It’s sort of like making mud pies + gives them permission to get a little dirty, + have something alive to care for. There’s so much joy + learning in watching something that you planted grow + transform over time.

Make sure the moss is alive!

You can get this from a nursery, but make sure it’s not preserved or dyed from a craft store. We like this all-natural Live Terrarium Assortment because it comes with 4 different varieties of moss which makes the finished pots look super cool and varied like our pictures. If you’re going for a more uniform look, with just one kind of moss, we recommend this New Zealand Sphagnum Moss.

This project will work with common moss you may find growing on the shady side of trees, fences or buildings. It’s a good idea to ask permission if you want to harvest moss from someone else’s property. If it’s overgrown they’ll probably be happy for to you take it, but you never know ’till you ask!

You can certainly go foraging for wild moss as well. Of course be mindful of what you take and where you take it from. It’s good practice to honor the plant and the place it’s growing with a deep breath of gratitude and appreciation before harvesting. It’s better to take a little bit from several different places, than to remove all of the moss from one spot in a wild ecosystem. Gather your bits of moss from inconspicuous places, and leave the forest looking as lovely as you found it.

Make the Living Paint

Place 2 cups of live moss with 2 cups of live cultured buttermilk or plain yogurt into a blender. Use the pulse button to blend the mix a little at a time until you reach a thick, uniform consistency with bits of moss. You want it to be like carrot cake batter with the bigger chunks, not pulverized to a completely smooth, smoothie texture.

You can pour the paint out into containers or dip your brush straight into the blender. The living paint is gloppy and weird, and fun to slop onto the pots. It’s not an exact science, quirks are welcome, and even bring interest to the finished product. As you can see in our pictures, that the areas of the pots left uncovered are super cool.

Moss reproduces by spores or by sending out new shoots from even the smallest pieces. The acidity in the yogurt provides the perfect environment for the moss to grow in as long as it has moisture.

Brush a thick layer onto your un-glazed flower pot. The moisture from the yogurt will soak into the pot helping the moss stick, and give it the moistness it needs to start establishing it’s new home more quickly.

Place your painted pots in the shade for the incubation phase. They’ll need care over the next 2-3 weeks as the paint grows into a living moss carpet. Gently mist with water at least once per day. You don’t want to spray these with a strong stream from a hose as that will dislodge the moss that’s starting to grow.

You will see it start to green up in no time, usually about a week to 10 days. This mossy milkshake can actually be painted on any porous surface, like an outdoor fountain or rock wall. It just needs to be kept moist and in the shade to stay green and happy. It will take a while to grow as established as our pictures, expect 6 months in a humid rain forest type climate or about a year in temperate climates.

Expect the results to be perfectly imperfect and enjoy caring for your mossy pots as they grow and evolve over time. Maintain healthy moss by keeping it out of full sun, and keep it moist. If the moss begins to dry or turn brown, you need to mist more frequently.

Last year at our local flea market I came upon a vendor with gorgeous topiaries sprouting from moss covered garden pots. Her plants were a little pricey but I loved the pots and caved to temptation, taking two of them home with me. But a few months later their appeal lost its luster and I neglected the plants, almost killing them both. Thankfully, I was able to nurse them back to health, but the moss growing on the pots faded. Lucky for me, I remembered reading about a recipe to help spread moss in the garden. I figured, why not try and use this concoction to make moss covered garden pots of my own?

This is what the flaky moss covered garden pots looked like when I brought them home from the flea market. I searched online for a moss propagating recipe and found several. I settled on the one with the least number of ingredients.

A trip to The Mossy Twig in Geneva resulted in a couple handfuls of live moss.

I threw the moss in a blender with 1 cup buttermilk and 1 cup water.

Then blended on “milkshake mode” until I got this brownish, slightly smelly mixture.

Using an artist’s brush, simply paint the mixture onto your garden pot.

The mixture is slightly chunky, which is fine. Those chunks turned green in 24 hours.

Mist the outside of the garden pots at least once per day to keep the moss growing. If you water the plant once per day, it will help to keep the clay pot wet. Just be sure you plant something that can handle daily watering … just a little water each day. Don’t overdo!

You can see the moss covered garden pots on the far side of the room by the door.

They definitely look more interesting with their mossy green goodness!

I found another recipe that uses beer and sugar, but I thought the one I used is simpler.

Moss Recipe

1 cup buttermilk
1 cup water
2 small handfuls live moss
Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

Don’t forget that I’m also starting my new Charming Home Series this Sunday. I want soooo badly to tell you whose charming home is being featured first … but I’m gonna keep it a secret! You’ll just have to check back to see who it is! I can’t wait!

Sharing at Metamorphosis Monday,Wow Us Wednesday

Create a moss-covered pot for spring blooms

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In 2012, my mom and I went to Floriade, a horticultural expo that happens once every 10 years in the Netherlands. We stayed in the town of Venlo and one afternoon, as we were exploring all the little shops, we came across these cute little moss-covered pots.

Moss-covered pots outside of a flower shop in Venlo, Netherlands.

I’d been wanting to recreate the look, so when I was grabbing some spring bloomers for Easter from i fiori, a fantastic little flower shop in Hamilton, Ontario, I added sheet moss to my purchase.

Creating your moss-covered pot

Bev, the owner of i fiori, explained how I should soak the sheet moss and then gently wring it out like a facecloth. Otherwise the moss crumbles. The wet moss was easier to work with, but I’ll admit I found it challenging to wrap the moss around the pot. You almost need two people—one to hold the moss in place while the other uses thin floral wire to secure it. I used a coir pot as I thought the moss might also adhere a bit better to it than plastic.

When I finally had everything just so, I wrapped some twine around the pot for extra security—and because it looked pretty. One tip I feel I must pass on from Bev is not to dump the moss water down your drain. Because the moss expands in water, it would wreak havoc on your pipes!

I popped vibrant ranunculus into my moss-covered pots, but there are all sorts of lovely spring blooms on display at this time of year, from flowering bulbs to sweet, colourful primulas.

I loved the look of ranunculus in my moss-covered pot!

Another moss project I’d love to recreate includes:
* This frame filled with moss and succulents that I saw at Canada Blooms

Decorative Moss

We offer high quality fake moss rocks, wreaths, mats and rolls for any natural decoration theme. Every product is lightweight and durable, ensuring it will stand the test of time.
Our authentic preserved Reindeer Moss and Spanish Moss make the perfect foundation for miniatures, natural dish compositions, soil dressings, wreaths and more. They feature a fresh, soft spongy feel that is great to work with and easy to use. We also have colour-treated options available so you can give your arrangements another layer of creativity to ensure they stand out.
Our artificial moss mats are versatile and can be cut to any desired size or shape, allowing them to be easily fit into troughs, ceramic pots and planters and more. The artificial moss wreaths can be decorated with flowers and trinkets to be hung as a feature decoration on any wall.
Build upon any fake moss foundation with colourful artificial flowers for a contrast that is sure to make your design pop. The Koch & Co selection of artificial moss rocks, wreaths and mats are also perfect when accompanied with decorations for special occasions such as Easter, Mother’s Day, weddings and any other event inspired by the outdoors.
Koch & Co have over 80 years of experience and are constantly at the forefront of innovation. We pride ourselves on being the industry leader in the florist and event styling industry. Purchase straight from the importer at affordable wholesale and retail prices. Nationwide shipping is also available.

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