Moss pH preference

I feel very fortunate to be in the position to ask anything of David Spain, moss expert, co-owner of Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks! and developer of Moss Rocks!  And I do.

Often, when I’m researching a piece for this blog or another media outlet, I’ve learned to question long held beliefs.  David has taught me think about moss and to question what is being spread by word of mouth..  At first, I felt confident in my understanding of what is widely written about.  However, I’ve learned to ask anything of David to better understand exactly how moss grows and thrives.  After all, he is the moss expert; I am the communicator.   A classic example of this is the pH preference for mosses.  I believed, and what is widely written about, is that moss thrives in a pH  between 5.0 – 5.5.

Most believe this too, so I asked David Spain, what is the perferred pH of moss?
According to David Spain, I have dispelled the common adage that mosses prefer an acidic soil in the 5.0 to 5.5 range.  Moss is often found growing on acidic substrates and this is often noted as an indication of their preference for that pH range. It is more correct to say that other plants don’t prefer pH levels of 5.0 to 5.5, therefore acidic soils promote less competition, thereby allowing moss colonization. Most mosses will colonize a much wider range of pH than other plants, since they do not draw nutrients from substrates, their need for a certain pH range is overstated.

You too can ask anything of David Spain.  If you have a moss question, please let him know by leaving a comment, here on the blog, at any time.


AVAILABLE  October, 2011

MOSS ROCKS! Ordering Info

Words: Helen  Yoest

Follow Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks! on Twitter @Moss_Rocks and our Facebook Like page Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks!

To learn more about Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks!, please visit our website.  Or email David Spain at

Unless otherwise noted, all photo are credited to Ken Gergle.

film The Comet Kids

8 thoughts on “Moss pH preference

  1. David Spain

    This is a common myth O’ Benevolent One, and I have dispelled many myths on moss, some of which are posted here
    However, since you are a close personal friend and mentor I will share with you a secret, moss does grow on a rolling stone, however it must be rolling uphill for this to occur!
    Thanks ever so much for reading each and every post of our blog,
    David Spain (Moss Rock)

  2. Pete Seymour

    I have an established moss garden in my back yard in MA. When I created it, I made sure the ph level of the soil that was to hold the moss was according to moss growing guidelines. Do I need to ensure that the ph level remains in that range over time ? If so, how do I adjust it once the moss is established ?

    Pete Seymour

    1. David Spain

      In my experience adjusting the soil ph is not needed, however some moss gardeners will apply buttermilk diluted with water to increase acidity to an established moss area. ~David

  3. Michaela

    Hello! I have just created my first moss terrarium and wanted to know if using my aquarium water would help the ph/help it grow? Now that I’ve created one I want to keep it alive! Any tips?! Thanks!

  4. isobel

    could you let me know the best type of soil to use for moss in a terrarium, I have been using peat moss but have been getting mould problems, whereas the moss i have stored in plastic tubs has been fine. I am now trying to put the moss directly in the stones instead. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.