Moss Basics

There are 12,000 species of moss. Moss commonly grows close together in clumps in damp or shady locations. Moss does not have flowers or seeds. The life of a moss starts from a spore. The spore germinates to produce a protonema, which is a mass of thread-like filaments. Moss absorbs nutrients it needs from the air or the ground and are found in areas of dampness and low light and are also found in cracks between paving stones in damp city streets. Mosses require moisture to survive because of the small size and thinness of tissues.

Cultivation of moss is a way to have different colors and textures of mosses. Of-course, it is easy to collect natural grown moss at any wet, damp areas when needed. There a several ways to cultivate moss using tray or bricks. Collected moss has to be slightly dry out enough to be easy to crumble and cut. Take a shallow container with small drainage holes and put a layer of sand into the bottom and mist until it is damp. Sprinkle crumbled or fine minced moss evenly on the surface of the sand. Mist it until it is damp and place in a dappled shade area and ensure that the top never dries out. It will usually require misting once a day. In a couple weeks you will have a sheet of moss. The other method is using a blender and bricks to start growing moss. Making the "moss-shake" by adding beer, buttermilk, or water with slightly dry moss clump in the blender and blend it to the consistency of thick milkshake. Place the bricks into a tray without drainage holes and fill the container with water; the bricks will act a wick constantly draw water up. Spread the paste on top of the brick and mist daily, in few weeks the moss will grow and eventually will create a solid carpet of moss.

Applying moss to your bonsai is easy if care is taken. The arrangement, spacing, texture and color can be greatly enhancing the visual appearance.

There are many directions of how to apply moss on the web. One site (Bonsai of Brooklyn) is recommended to “tenderized” the moss sheet with the meat tenderizer using the side with the little spikes and apply the moss sheet to the bonsai. Or on Bonsai Tonight blog, moss is layered with additional damp white sphagnum moss and adding tiny soil, black lava particle over the moss gaps.

A simple guideline when applying moss:

Moss Clumps
Moss on a tree at Marin Bonsai Club Show, 2006 - their plants always have great moss!

How to Use Moss

Although moss is usually used to represent grass around the base of a tree, moss can also be used in accent plants - such as this moss garden.

Moss Garden
Moss Garden