Dividing and Fragmenting Mosses

The best way to propagate moss is by taking a larger piece and dividing it into smaller pieces, then transplanting them apart from one another and encouraging them to grow together. Once moss has covered a surface it will begin adding new growth in the form of thickness, essentially growing on top of itself. While this mature thick growth is ultimately the goal and offers the best weed suppression, it does not maximize their spreading. If you are trying to increase coverage then dividing will speed the process.

To ensure the highest level of survival, larger divisions offer stability and control. These divisions could be as small as the center of your palm. Even smaller divisions are called fragments and offer the greatest expansion but the loose pieces are more difficult to confine. The size of the fragments are best if kept larger than 1/4 inch, the smaller the fragments the longer it will take to establish and fill in. Pinching and pulling to tease apart sections is preferable to using scissors or other instruments. One square foot of moss can be effectively spread to cover up to 20 square feet. Mind you this degree of fragmentation is extreme and may take several years to fill in.

The tearing and shredding to divide or fragment signals the moss to begin new growth. The first order of business for the divisions or fragments is to re-anchor themselves to the substrate. Until new rhizoids have formed, leafy growth will not resume. In order for a rhizoid to develop, the fragment or stem of the moss must be in contact with something. Rhizoids do not reach out to attach themselves by first growing into thin air and then happen upon a surface to connect with. Instead, they form on the stem when in contact with something.

Pleurocarpous mosses will respond to fragmentation techniques much faster than acrocarpous mosses will. By nature of their growth habit and response to moisture, pleurocarps will respond with new growth within 3 months if moisture is sufficient. Their stems will continually branch and lengthen making them superior for carpeting.

Any part of a pleuro is viable for regeneration. The larger the fragment the more quickly it will recover. Very small fragments (less than 1/4 inch) are likely to revert to a younger state of maturity called protonema. This fragile state is where the moss acts like an alga, and grows more like a film on the surface. Protonemal mosses are more likely to perish if they become dry and may take many weeks before developing into a mature gametophyte (fully developed moss with leaves).

Acrocarpous mosses that have been fragmented may need 6 months or more to anchor themselves and another 12 months to multiply. Since acrocarps spread by the growth of new individual upright stems, the pace of their spreading is slower. Since most acrocarpous mosses require periodic dry periods, they cannot stay in a growth mode everyday like pleurocarps.

The growing tips or outer layers of Acrocarps are more readily regenerated than the older lower parts of the stem. When fragmenting acro’s, be sure to crumble or cut the growing tips with scissors. Simply separating the stems will leave them less able to orient themselves upright and create new rhizoids.

Fragmentation should be done when the moss is dry. In their desiccated state, they have prepared themselves for possible damage, storing a small amount of protein that can be used to repair any cellular damage once moisture returns.

Spread the fragments onto a prepared and lightly scratched soil, water enough to wet the top inch of soil and then press them firmly, re-compacting the soils surface. This will provide good contact with as much surface area of the fragments and promote rhizoid formation. Compacting also acts to trap the fragments between soil particles keeping them from blowing away. Water the fragments 1 to 4 times a day depending on the conditions and occasionally walk on them to keep their contact with the soil.

Divisions can be held in place by netting, toothpicks or greening pins. Toothpicks can be inserted at opposite angles to work in unison with one another. Acrocarps are better held in place with netting. Securing moss divisions in place is useful for areas with water run-off or gusty winds. Securing also prevents unnecessary disturbance which can disrupt rhizome development.

David Spain a.k.a. Moss Rock

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

Southern Living – My mossy roots

    This month we are celebrating being featured in a little magazine you may have heard of…Southern Living!  Be sure and check out “Roll Out the Green Carpet” (page 68 if you must know).   This is especially gratifying as this article and this garden are important milestones in my moss adventure.   Take a peek behind the scenes with me…

In May of 2008, one of our favorite garden creations was invited to participate in the Raleigh Little Theatre Garden tour. It was at the home of Richard and Barbara Urquhart, and it was then that my now close friend Helen Yoest visited their garden for the first time. Helen wrote a post about the garden for her blog, Gardening With Confidence and an edited version was published in September 2008 issue of Metro Magazine.

A few months later Helen brought Steve Bender, aka The Grumpy Gardener and Senior garden writer for Southern Living Magazine, for a quick look around the garden while he was in town.

Shortly after that, Steve contacted me with interest in doing a feature article on the moss garden and the work we had done there. Sadly, Mr. Urquhart, a great friend, mentor and my father-in-law had passed away peacefully on June 8th 2008, resting in his chair overlooking his beautiful garden. Even though I couldn’t share the excitement with him in person, there was no doubt in my mind that this great man was smiling along with me from his new home in the Garden of Eden.

By that time I had had a 10 year love affair with this little plant’s charm and tenacity.  Could others be as taken with it as well? To have someone like Helen and Steve validate this belief in moss becoming mainstream was a great motivator, but there was much to be done before my dreams could be realized. The first task at hand was to prepare the Urquhart’s garden for a top-tier magazine photo-shoot. With the family’s blessing we began right away, the shoot was a mere 10 months away and mosses don’t move that fast.All through the winter and spring we worked to complete the unfinished visions Mr. Uquhart and I had shared for the garden.

As July of 2009 approached, Moss and Stone Gardens was on-site full time, tending every tiny detail and fighting the heat and dryness of that year. It was no easy task to make a garden whose blooming plants peak in early May, look just as spectacular 2 months later. Luckily mosses with their year-round glory came to the rescue!

The day finally came, July 14th of 2009 and Steve, Helen and photographer extraordinaire Ralph Anderson arrived at the garden. Friends and family had gathered at the grand home to celebrate the gardens preparedness and its’ honored guests. Ham biscuits, deviled eggs, tomato pie and iced tea helped to keep the crew working all through the heat of the day, preparing for the many different aspects and angles of the planned photos. We took advantage of anything to make the best of the afternoon while we waited on what Ralph called “the Soft Light”. He explained that just as the sun is rising or  setting, there is a period of time when the lighting becomes magical and it allows the camera to see what we do in person. This moment in time allows the photographer to capture the spiritual connection with the surroundings.

God was accommodating, no doubt with a nudge from Mr. Urquhart and the soft light came. We raced from place to place to capture the “gloaming” of the garden as Mr. U used to call it, and it was good. When the light proved too dim and much had been captured, Ralph’s excitement to capture one more spectacular shot hadn’t diminished, nor had mine. I shouted to Ralph, “I know one more angle we haven’t done yet,” and we grabbed the gear rushing to the backyard. Sure enough, the sun was providing a last few minutes of opportunity, and with the cameras exposure wide open, turning the waters surface to a glossy finish, it was done. The shoot over and crew exhausted, we shared a toast, to Mr. Urquhart and everyone that had worked so hard to bring this dream into a reality.

I will never be able to thank Helen, Steve, Ralph and all those involved enough, most of all my mentor that I miss dearly …here’s to you Mr. Urquhart.

p.s. Interestingly enough, the photo that made it into the article was that very last shot we took as the light faded.

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

Harvesting Moss from Stone

Dear David, can moss be taken from rocks, even if frozen during the winter?

Thanks for your help, Tom.

 

Dear Tom, your question is not so simple to answer. Mosses have a natural anti-freeze that allows them to survive extreme cold, they can however become encrusted in snow and ice, which would impede collection. In general, mosses can be collected year round, it is only the conditions and presence of ice that will complicate things. There are many species that can grow on stone, some of them may be easy to remove even when temperatures are below freezing.

If the moss growth on a stone is thick and you are able to peel it away from the stone without tearing, it is likely you will meet with success. Some species are specialized and grow only on stone, these species attach themselves firmly to the surface and are difficult at best to collect without shredding. The stone specific species like Grimmia’s are very slow growing and sensitive to changes in their environment. My advice is to collect a small amount and test to see the success of your technique and intended use. Remember to collect responsibly, leaving more behind than you remove. Be sure to have permission from the land owner before collecting and never collect from public property or protected areas.

Best wishes, David Spain a.k.a. Moss Rock

There are many species that will colonize a stone surface, if the environment is moist, your chances of successful collection and transplanting are high. If the climate is more arid, then tread carefully, mosses adapted to dry conditions can be very specialized and almost impossible to relocate. If the moss is rather easily removed from the stone surface intact, it is a good bet on a successful transplant. If the moss is strongly attached and comes apart when removed it is best to leave it be.

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Help my moss is turning black!

Dear David,

I have had an outdoor waterfall and pond for about 10 years.  The moss is beautiful, growing on the majority of rocks closest to the waterfall.  Each year it seems to increase, with no special care from me, except for pulling any stray water plant growth.   This year it has slowly been turning black, from the bottom up, and some has died altogether.  I haven’t done anything different from the previous years.  No chemicals have been applied, etc.

Do you have any idea what could be causing it to die, and what if anything I can do.  I did remove a lot of it today.  Thanks so much.  Mary

Hello Mary,  It’s difficult to diagnose with so little information and so many parameters. It’s possible that black slime mold is affecting the area if it is wet all the time and if water plants are creeping up the moss they could easily help to spread this type of problem.  Removing the affected moss is a good precaution, monitor it carefully and ensure the water quality isn’t the problem.
If you need further assistance, really good close up photos of the problem will be needed for further diagnosis.

Best regards,

David Spain
Moss and Stone Gardens

Dear David, Thanks so much for your reply. I have looked at it and taken some pictures. It looks like whatever it is, it is totally “consuming” it. First it turns black and then it just disappears, with a black thin layer of slimey stuff. Is that what black slime mold looks like? And, is there anything I can do. I read about that problem in aquariums, but not in outdoor ponds. Thanks. mary

Hey Mary, the photos certainly do help with the diagnosis. It appears as though you have not only black slime mold affecting your moss but judging from the photos, grey mold as well. Molds are one of the few enemies of mosses and often occur in closed terrariums. Molds are partial to the same conditions that many mosses are. Constant moisture and shade can be a recipe for the slimy and fuzzy stuff to invade. The molds are however temperature dependent and you will likely not find them growing in cooler seasons. I have found that once the thermometer reaches 75 degrees Fahrenheit or above, and the moisture is constant, you should keep an eye out for the attack of the molds. Most of these attacks are easily remedied by removing the moisture, but if the problem is at the edge of your artificial water system, then removing moisture is tricky. You have already taken a good step by removing the moss that is affected. Trimming or thinning mosses that are growing into the water can also be a preventative. Mosses may reach for and grow into the water but that doesn’t mean that it’s good for them. Our artificial water gardens have a constant water level that natural streams or ponds do not, this consistent water line is not as forgiving as the rising and falling water lines of a natural body of water. When mosses have direct contact with a body of water, they wick the water into the moss mat. This can help feed the mosses growth but in certain situations can also lead to problems. One of these problems can actually be to drain the water system quicker than evaporation does alone, another is soggy soils and slime molds. Eventually these problems will find an equilibrium and take care of themselves, but the results may not be the desired lush moss growth right to the waters edge you envisioned. A little moss maintenance and trimming will help in this case to stop the wicking and soothe the soul.

Best of luck,

David Spain, a.k.a Moss Rock

 

Order your Moss Rocks!  online today.  Moss is grand.  Moss is green.  Moss is good. Make the most of it; order Moss Rocks! today.

By: Helen Yoest

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Moss People

         I was very blessed to have made fast friends with the fiery, flirty and fashionably adorable Faeries a few weeks ago.  The insights that were shared about faerie culture was eye opening to say the least.  I will pass on to you now these other compelling bits of lore.

Under the spell o’ faerie dust and drams they shared secret knowledge of other wee inhabitants of the woods.  Were they telling tales and just bewitching me? The existence of Moss People was exciting indeed.  Could we cast a spell and bring them into our midst?  What would it take to entice the magical beings to visit?

They have been the subject of folklore for century’s, from Scandinavia to South America and even in common tales told in modern culture, but when the faeries told me the secrets to attracting the mischevious Moss People, (a comprehensive reference to Hobbits, Elves, Trolls and Wood Sprites) I was giddy with anticipation that these garden inhabitants were within reach. The faeries explained that over the centuries the Moss Folk had become more reclusive and less attainable in our modern culture, due to the homogeneity of our gardens.

You see, Moss People live by the rule that the gardens they inhabit must first embrace Mother Nature’s diversity and balance.  The variety of plants in a garden must be in harmony with the available resources and most of all the ratio of native plants to cultivated plants are equal or more. Hobbit harmony thrives where trees are cherished, not culled and dashing chipmunks are admired, un-scolded.  Where the water runs freely and the beehives thrive, that’s where you’ll find them leading magical lives.

I had to ask, now that the faeries were speaking, who are Moss People really? Their answer surprised.  Moss People are of an ancient civilization that long ago realized the benefit of preserving the antediluvian plant species as  humans were becoming agrarians. Their solution was simple, the answer easy, moss. The Moss People have insured the proliferation of mosses by planting colonies and reintroducing them again and again as man has raised and built, cut and cleared.

Moss harkens back 450 million years holding reign over the earliest of plants. As mosses covered the globe, their solitary eden for 70 million years, they created the first organic soils. Moss was the cradle of plant evolution and diversity. So you see, if you plant a little patch of moss, you will have a colony of hundreds or even thousands of individual moss plants and the balance of natives and cultivars will be quickly achieved. Do so and your garden will be happier and a haven for Moss People.

The iridescent faeries are always the first to occupy a garden. A tiny offering of moss is enough to attract them. But as the moss grows and begins to restore the equilibrium between native and cultivated, Hobbit houses will soon be spied! While Moss People aren’t shy, alas you will never see one. Like the hummingbird, their size is so small that their relative speed at which they move is undetectable by the human eye. Even if they were to stand still for an Hobbit hour, it would only equal a fraction of a human second. This would be impossible anyways as Moss People are very industrious, always working, playing pranks and famously hiding garden tools. They proudly announce their presence with enchanting Hobbit homes which seem to magically appear overnight, when in fact, for them, it takes many weeks to construct.

The welcome mat of moss has been proffered, Hobbit houses constructed and the rewards of balance bestowed. Ah, but a wee word of caution – as of this morning I am missing a hoe, my favorite by-pass pruners and a trowel.

David Spain, a.k.a Moss Rock

 p.s. you may click on the images in this post for a larger view!

 

Order your Moss Rocks!  online today.  Moss is grand.  Moss is green.  Moss is good. Make the most of it; order Moss Rocks! today.

By: Helen Yoest

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

Transplanting Polytrichum and Atrichum mosses

Hi David,

I recently discovered your site and have been grateful for all the information. I’ve been having some trouble growing moss in my garden and was hoping you might have some advice.

A month ago I discovered a large patch of an upright-growing moss (fairly sure it’s haircap moss) in a neglected corner of my garden. I cut it into several largish sections and transplanted beneath the umbrella of a weeping cherry tree, where I’ve had trouble growing much of anything except for hosta. I raked the bed, leveled the surface and have been watering fairly regularly, however the moss doesn’t appear to be thriving; it’s wilting around the edges and appears, not brown, but just generally unhealthy.

Although I trim the weeping cherry branches several feet above the ground, the area is in heavy shade and gets virtually no direct sunlight. Can haircap moss grow in such extreme shade or should I transplant (again) to a more lightly shaded area? Any other suggestions?

Thanks so much in advance for any tips and for providing such a clearinghouse of moss-related information.

All best,
Bennett

Hello Bennett, I am glad you have found our posts helpful. It isn’t unusual for acrocarps to suffer at the edges of a harvested colony. The colony itself provides protection from drying by being tightly packed together, when you cut the patch and transplant it, the edges are more expose than before and will dry out faster causing the leaves around the edges to close (appress). Making sure the edges of the colony are tucked into the soil and level with the soil around it will help, some edge damage may occur but eventually will heal.

When collecting acrocarps like Polytrichum or Atrichum, often called hair-cap or star-cap moss, it is necessary to scoop soil along with the moss colony, to prevent damage and to prevent them from falling apart. The soil ball should be accommodated with an equal depression when placed into it’s new location. Acrocarps are slow to grow, so be patient and don’t compensate by trying to add more water and perk up the edges, just follow an appropriate acrocarp watering schedule and let happen what will happen. The conditions under the weeping cherry should be just fine for the haircap moss.

Best wishes,

David Spain aka Moss Rock

 

Order your Moss Rocks!  online today.  Moss is grand.  Moss is green.  Moss is good. Make the most of it; order Moss Rocks! today.

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

Moss Man speaks–lawn bad, moss good–moss rocks

The most common question I receive about moss gardening is from people who have decided to give up on their grass lawn in shady areas where naturally occurring mosses have crept in. They ask, “How do I eliminate the remaining grass?”

After attempting to grow a lawn in shade, only to fail in producing a satisfying amount of coverage to fulfill the ideal, frustration leads to an alternative–moss. Converting a grass lawn to moss where traditional attempts of growing turf were used; annual seeding, adding lime, selective herbicides, and watering are one of the most difficult scenarios to work with.

The mosses move in forming verdant green islands and showcasing their evergreen appeal. The homeowner begins to realize Mother Nature may be revealing a better plant for this location. At this point, the homeowner is typically pleased. Even if they can’t grow the grass they hoped for, the fascination that moss wants to grow offers them salvation.

Soon the moss is anointed and all the efforts to coax the grass is removed from the homeowners list of chores. The moss however proves stubborn and seems unwilling to hold up to the occupation of its newly bequeathed territory.

Then the question comes, “How do I remove the existing grass and get the moss to take over?” My standard answer underwhelms as I explain that it’s best to remove the grass by hand and water regularly. This is then followed by a plea, “Isn’t there some kind of chemical that I can apply?”

Many of us have become accustomed to gardening and cultivating our landscapes with the help of sprays and chemical controls. It’s a hard habit to break, potions line up like soldiers at the local stores to do the job once held by our sweaty hands. We want and expect to have an easy remedy in the form of a spray to rid dandelions, crabgrass, nut sedge, broad leaf weeds, and even moss (ouch). Pulling grasses and digging with a weeding tool seems like an impossible task for large areas, but tackled systematically it is manageable, and the least disturbing method that capitalizes on any gains the mosses have made.

Here are a few suggestions to create a moss lawn and to deal with a grass to moss conversion.

1.   Where there is nothing–a clean slate

If you have an area where there is no vegetation, you are beginning with a clean slate. This is usually due to leaves and debris that have been allowed to cover the ground and prevent any plants from accessing the soil. The leaf litter can be removed and the area prepared soils for mosses.

You can also create a clean slate by applying a thick layer of leaf litter and allowing it to do the work of clearing any vegetation for you over several months. For a quicker approach, vegetation can be removed manually using a flat shovel.

Beginning with a clean slate is often the best way to promote a self-sustaining and weed resistant moss lawn.

After the area is prepared for moss,  locate and transplant from your surrounding area placing patches of colonies directly on the prepared soil. Fragmenting the colonies will increase the coverage but also the time needed for establishment. After installation be sure to water deeply and step on the mosses to ensure direct contact between the mosses and the soil.

Begin a structured watering regiment  and keep the area debris free. A pre-emergent such as Preen Vegetable Garden Weed Preventer can be used to prohibit weeds from geminating.

Alternatively you can follow these steps but not introduce mosses and allow airborne spores to develop into a selection of mosses that suit the conditions. In about 3 months you will begin to see what looks like a green coloring on the surface of the compacted soil. This is the early stage of moss growth and it will develop into a moss lawn in 12 to 24 months.

2.  Where there are equal amounts of weeds and moss–join Team Moss

Join team moss and say goodbye to team grass. Every advantage given your new team will help turn the tide from grass (and weeds) to moss.

Capitalize on established patches of moss, encouraging their domination by removing competition (grass, weeds and debris) and using appropriate  watering techniquesCarefully hand pull grasses and weeds, ensuring to get the roots.

If your weeds overwhelmingly outnumber the moss, place leaf litter or black plastic over the area. This will block sunlight and starve the vascular grasses and weeds. The mosses will tolerate this for a longer period of time than the grass and weeds, thus killing the unwanted growth while maintaining most of the moss.  Check the progress every couple of weeks until the vascular plants have died.

3.  Temporarily remove and store the moss–divide and conquer

Create a clean slate by temporarily removing the mosses. Think of it as taking your new moss buddies for a vacation while you do some spring cleaning. Collect all the mosses and store them off to the side for a couple of weeks.

Larger patches can be collected as a whole and sparsely covered areas raked out. Set the mosses aside in a shady location, laying out the patches and piling up the loose bits that were raked in a shady location. You should water the stored mosses daily and they will keep this way for a couple of weeks, if needed.

4.  Apply herbicides—give in to temptation

If your volunteering mosses are  pleurocarps, applying herbicides has fair odds of working.  If they are acrocarps it is not advisable. On a dry warm sunny day, lightly mist the mosses with water, do this slowly on one area then another and repeat. Give the mosses time to absorb as much water as possible. Then allow the leaves of the grasses and weeds to air dry. The mosses will retain the moisture but the waxy leaves of the weeds and grasses will not. Apply a rainproof glyphosate, carefully aiming for the intended targets but avoiding a heavy application. A half strength mixture may even be enough to kill most invaders and reduce moss damage.

After the required drying time for the glyphosate, water the mosses again. After any damage to the mosses has healed, you can repeat the application. By watering the mosses and fully hydrating their cells before applying the glyphosate, the absorption rate is minimized. Watering afterwards will help further dilute any remaining chemicals.

Even though the herbicides may be easier, don’t try to accomplish this too quickly or in one application. It is also wise to test this technique on a small area first to check for success.

Let’s hope more of us change our perspective and go from saying, “There’s moss growing in my grass” to “There’s grass growing in my moss!”

 

David Spain aka Moss Rock

 

Order your Moss Rocks!  online today.  Moss is grand.  Moss is green.  Moss is good. Make the most of it; order Moss Rocks! today.

By: David Spain

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

When and how-to water moss

Pre-script:  Over the last month, Moss and Stone Gardens Moss and Stone Gardens; has been sharing information about moss–understanding growth rates, preparing soils, how-to collect mosses, and this post about watering moss.  This series are actually steps in the process of creating a moss lawn. Each step leads up to presenting a thorough understanding for our ultimate goal of writing a how-to on creating a moss lawn.

The first step was Understanding Growth Rates.

The second step was Preparing Soils for Moss

The third step was How to Collect Moss.

WHEN AND HOW-TO WATER MOSS

Transplanted mosses to a new location need a period of time for the moss to acclimate and become established.

Acclimation is the process of the moss adjusting to the new location’s elements such as altitude, sunlight, water, wind, as well as the substrate the moss will be growing on.

Each of these will effect different mosses to greater or lesser degrees depending on the species, their growth rate and habit, which may increase or decrease depending on those changes.

Establishment occurs after acclimation to environmental differences and when new rhizomes have re-attached the colony to it’s new substrate.

To help with the establishment, the wisdom is to provide water frequently after the transplant, but how often and for how long is the question. This will be different depending on the the type of moss being transplanted. An acrocarp has different requirements than a pleurocarp.

ACROCARPS

Acrocarpous mosses are slower growing and will not tolerate constant moisture for periods longer than 2 or 3 months, if moisture persists they will begin to rot and eventually fail. They can benefit from a rainy season or regular irrigation once a year, but after that they will need regular dry spells.

If you are unsure whether your moss is an acrocarp, monitor its condition carefully. Look for signs of the moss turning dark and if there is a reduction in height. These signs will indicate that it’s getting too much water, and a break from frequent moisture is needed.

Below is a helpful watering chart for establishing acrocarps.

Months 1 and 2–-water daily for up to two months to promote growth.

Month 3–-water every three days for one month.

Month 4–-water once a week for one month.

Month 5–-water twice a month then until the area is fully covered in moss.

After that, water only when rain has been absent for three weeks or more.

PLEUROCARPS

Pleurocarpous mosses can be watered daily, and even up to 6 times a day in small volumes. This consistent moisture will keep pleurocarps growing year round, if the conditions are right.

The caveat for a frequent watering schedule is to be careful and not create the conditions for problems to form. Too much volume can create soggy conditions that may cause root rot for other plants. Be sure the delivery and timing of the water moistens the moss but does not soak the soil.

Molds, mildews and fungus can also cause problems for Pleurocarps.  When temperatures rise above 75 degrees, constant moisture can cause the development of molds, mildews or fungus. These may grow on the bare soils surrounding the mosses or directly on the moss itself. If any of these problems occur, allow the area to dry out completely and resume with a lower volume application of water.

After pleurocarpous mosses have filled in, and have become a thick and lush growth, watering can be reduced over time and allow rain to provide for the moss’s watering needs. If you are in an area with low rainfall levels, you may need to supplement during drought. Avoid creating a wet then dry cycle multiple times a day. The effect of drying out several times a day can produce a net loss in energy production.

HOW TO WATER MOSS

Watering using a hose and fine spray head is the most economical and accurate method for irrigation. Irrigation systems can also be used if they have the proper fine spray heads and are allowed to be scheduled. This usually requires a dedicated zone and programming. Hose end sprinklers are another possibility and can even be operated by a battery powered programable timer that attaches directly to the spigot.

If your water supply is from a well or a municipal system, you may want to have your water tested for chloramine or sulfur. High levels of each can have a negative impact on moss growth. You can also just water over a two month period to see if there is any negative effects. Using collected rain water will provide the best results over any other water source.

Since mosses must have sunlight in order to metabolize, the best time of day to water is early in the morning. Avoid watering your mosses close to dusk, so that they have time to accumulate net gains in their energy production.

Our next post will pull all this information together to learn how to Create a Moss Lawn.

 

 

Order your Moss Rocks!  online today.  Moss is grand.  Moss is green.  Moss is good. Make the most of it; order Moss Rocks! today.

By: 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 info@mossandstonegardens.com.

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

Fun Faerie Facts


Faeries are famous for being known as fickle. It’s the price they pay for being beautiful or at least that’s the general assumption among the humans.  They are indeed beautiful. But to a Faerie, they are not fickle; rather, they are fiery, flirty, and fashionably adorable.

Because Faeries are so often misunderstood, they felt it was important to teach humans some fun Faerie facts. Needing a human to speak on their behalf, they turned to me. I was flattered, of course, and honored at the same time. As it was explained to me, I was the perfect choice since there are so few of us who fully understand Faeries. It takes someone who regularly communicates with Faeries to know how they live, and since they make their home at the Moss and Stone Gardens’ Moss Farm , we’ve had plenty of time understanding each other.

So let’s spread some Faerie wing and learn a few things about being a Faerie.

    • The lifespan of a Faerie is one-thousand years.
    • Faeries are monogamous; they mate with the same male, but prefer living with the girls. The males don’t like this arrangement, but they have no say. Faeries dominate.
    • A male “Faerie” is called a Folly.
    • Little is known about Follies since they are mute and have no other way to communicate. Faeries prefer it this way.
    • At one time Follies could communicate, but over two millenniums, the Faeries selected out the vocal males until they were left only with a non-speaking species.
    • Faeries are fiercely independent.
    • Faerie babies, also known as wee Faeries, are born in the dew of the fern. The mama Faerie is able to delay birth until conditions are just right.
    • Each Faerie has a litter of about four wee Faeries, and can reproduce four times a year for about forty years.
    • It takes 140 years for a Faerie to reach puberty; 14 years before they can walk.
    • All Faeries prefer flying over walking.
    • Faeries wing span is 1 inch.
    • Faeries weigh a little less than the weight of a  postage stamp.
    • Faeries are vegan.
    • They live in Faerie houses, and sleep on beds of moss.
    • Though they can confuse one with their words, fairies cannot lie. They hate being told thank you, as they see it as a sign of one forgetting the good deed done, and, instead want something that will guarantee remembrance.
    • To attract Faeries to your garden you must allow moss to grow somewhere.
    • You must have permission from a faerie before their image can be captured with a camera.
    • Faeries think pallet gardens are over-rated.

Stay tuned to Moss and Stone Gardens. Since the Faeries now call The Moss Farm home and feel comfortable here, they have decided to share some tales about their tiny lives. Those tales will be shared over the next few weeks. ~David Spain

David Spain, a.k.a Moss Rock

 

Order your Moss Rocks!  online today.  Moss is grand.  Moss is green.  Moss is good. Make the most of it; order Moss Rocks! today.

By: Helen Yoest

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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 info@mossandstonegardens.com.

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

Understanding the growth rate of pleurocarps versus acrocarps

 

Pleurocarp habit

 

Anyone who has tried to start a moss lawn knows mosses are slow growing. Most people understand this, but many don’t understand why or just how slow is slow.

Mosses are very primitive plants without a higher evolved vascular system. They are limited to energy production by three factors: moisture, sunlight, and temperatures above 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If these three conditions are met, photosynthesis will produce the energy needed for growth. The energy produced is consumed but not stored for future growth. The only reserves that mosses have is a protein that allows for the repair of any cellular damage that may occur during desiccation. Upon hydration, the stored protein can repair the cell wall so that photosynthesis is again possible.

Mosses differ from vascular plants in that vascular ones may produce or consume energy under any number of different conditions–beyond the three factors limiting moss growth. Unlike mosses, vascular plants can store energy in their tissues, and continue to extract moisture and nutrients through their roots at night. You can water your wilted tomato plants after the sun has set and still have the benefit of that water perking her up. Mosses do not have this benefit; instead they have a simple on/off switch that allows their metabolism to produce and consume energy. If they are not producing or consuming energy, they become dormant.

While having the ability to be dormant or active within such a short period of time is an advantage, the disadvantage is not being able to extend your active period beyond the three strict factors. (We can, of course, provide the moisture if the other two factors are present and allow for growth. Learn about this in the next post.)

To obtain maximum growth from your moss, it should be moist as long as the sun is shining and the temperature is close to or above freezing, but, as always, we mustn’t generalize too much about such a large group of plants.

Now that we understand what it takes for mosses to grow, it is important to know about the different potential growth rates between the two types of mosses: pleurocarpous and acrocarpous. In general, pleurocarps can tolerate constant moisture, some even submerged, while most acrocarps must periodically dry out to prevent rotting.

Many carpeting pleurocarp mosses can be watered several times a day year-round, promoting growth that is on par with most evergreens. Their ever-branching and creeping horizontal habit will keep them expanding over new territory indefinitely. Under ideal conditions it is possible for the pleurocarps to double their size in 6 months.

Acrocarp habit

Acrocarps, however, cannot be accelerated past a certain point.  They are limited by their need to periodically dry out and their upright growth habit. You are more likely to have acrocarps spread over an area by their spores or fragments before the colony enlarges enough to double in size. Spores and broken leaf tips usually take 2 years under ideal circumstances to mature enough to be considered as “a carpet of moss.”

So there you have it, mosses take their sweet ole time to fill in. We can however give them a helping hand and significantly increase their growth rate and our goal of creating a moss garden by ensuring that the combination of their needs are met.

By: David Spain

 

Order your Moss Rocks!  online today.  Moss is grand.  Moss is green.  Moss is good. Make the most of it; order Moss Rocks! today.

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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 info@mossandstonegardens.com.

Photo credited to David Spain.