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Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Search Results for: Mosses and moss gardening | Search the catalog for: Mosses and moss gardening


Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Mosses and moss gardening, Lawn alternatives, Ground cover plants

What is the best way to encourage moss to take over and cover large surface areas in a relatively short amount of time? My goal is to replace my lawn with a moss garden.

Answer:

Here are some links to information which may be useful to you:

Primitive Plants: Bryophytes, Ferns, and Fern Allies

Moss cultivation:

Encouraging Mosses

Mad About Moss: The Simple Art of Moss Gardening

There are two books I would recommend, Moss Gardening by George Schenk (Timber Press, 1997), particularly the chapter on "Moss Carpets," and How to Get Your Lawn Off Grass by Carole Rubin (Harbour Publishing, 2002). Rubin gives directions for preparing your site, which involve digging out existing plants or--in your case--smothering the lawn with mulches of leaves (12 inches), bark (3 inches), or newspaper (10 sheets thick). Schenk offers several different methods for creating a moss garden. Briefly paraphrasing, these are:

  1. Work with nature, allowing self-sown spores of moss to take hold. (Prepare the site by weeding, raking, and perhaps rolling the surface smooth.)
  2. Encourage the moss in an existing lawn by weeding out grass. You can plant what the author calls "weed mosses" which will spread, such as Atrichum, Brachythecium, Calliergonella, Mnium, Plagiothecium, Polytrichum, and others.
  3. Instant carpet: you can moss about 75 square feet if you have access to woods from which large amounts of moss can be removed legally.
  4. Plant moss sods at spaced intervals (about one foot apart) and wait for them to grow into a solid carpet.Choose plants that match your soil and site conditions.
  5. Grow a moss carpet from crumbled fragments. This is rarely done, and only a few kinds of moss will grow this way, including Leucobryum, Racomitrium, and Dicranoweisia.

Another approach is to change the soil pH. Sulphur should be beneficial to moss and detrimental to lawn grass. The reason for this lies in the fact that moss grows best with a soil pH of 5.0-6.0, while lawns grow best with soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0 (according to The Lawn Bible by David Mellor, 2003). Added sulphur lowers the soil pH, creating a more acidic environment.

Date 2017-04-13
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Mosses and moss gardening, Lawn alternatives

Could you tell me how to replace grass with moss in the shady areas of our lawn?

Answer:

There are a number of options for replacing the grass in the shady part of your garden. Should you decide to cultivate moss, Oregon State University's page on Encouraging Mosses should be of interest.

There are two books I would recommend, Moss Gardening by George Schenk (Timber Press, 1997), particularly the chapter on "Moss Carpets," and How to Get Your Lawn Off Grass by Carole Rubin (Harbour Publishing, 2002). Rubin gives directions for preparing your site, which involve digging out existing plants or smothering the lawn with mulches of leaves (12 inches), bark (3 inches), or newspaper (10 sheets thick). Schenk offers several different methods for creating a moss garden. Briefly paraphrasing, these are:

  1. Work with nature, allowing self-sown spores of moss to take hold. (Prepare the site by weeding, raking, and perhaps rolling the surface smooth).
  2. Encourage the moss in an existing lawn by weeding out grass. You can plant what the author calls "weed mosses" which will spread, such as Atrichum, Brachythecium, Calliergonella, Mnium, Plagiothecium, Polytrichum, and others.
  3. Instant carpet: you can moss about 75 square feet if you have access to woods from which large amounts of moss can be removed legally.
  4. Plant moss sods at spaced intervals (about one foot apart) and wait for them to grow into a solid carpet.Choose plants that match your soil and site conditions.
  5. Grow a moss carpet from crumbled fragments. This is rarely done, and only a few kinds of moss will grow this way, including Leucobryum, Racomitrium, and Dicranoweisia.

In her book Big Ideas for Northwest Small Gardens, Marty Wingate recommends Mazus reptans. It is semi-evergreen to evergreen with tiny blue flowers from late spring through summer. It takes full sun to part shade and is delicate looking, but takes foot traffic. It requires some fertilizer to stay perky. Another source of ideas is the website www.stepables.com. Click on "plant info," then "plant search."

Another ground cover that can take foot traffic is Leptinella gruveri "Miniature Brass Buttons."

Date 2017-04-13
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Mosses and moss gardening, Tolmiea

Can you provide me with information on growing moss indoors? Also, do you know if Tolmiea is known for being fragrant?

Answer:

Here is an article, "Indoor Gardening with Moss" by Robert Paul Hudson, from the Eugene Daily News. The author provides directions on maintaining a small terrarium with moss.

The web site Bizarre Stuff is another resource. Excerpt:

Mosses can be grown in terrariums fairly easily. Collect moss from an area where it is okay to do so and transport in plastic sandwich bags. Sprinkle with water and seal the bag if you won't be setting up the terrarium right away. Use a large, clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Lay it on its side in a shallow box or on a stand so that it will not roll. Place sand and pebbles about 1/2 inch thick in the bottom of the jar. On top of this place some of the soil from the same place where the moss will be collected, or mix a soil of charcoal, light gravel, leaf mold and garden soil. The soil should be level with the opening of the jar. A little sulfur scattered on the soil will help to prevent mold from growing. Plant the moss by pressing it into the soil. Water the terrarium, screw the cover on, and place it in a shady place. If it seems too wet, leave the lid off for a few hours to allow some of the water vapor to escape. Eventually you will get the balance of water just right, and the moss should thrive. The terrarium should sustain itself for several weeks or months without needing additional water if the lid is kept tightly on. If conditions are just right, the moss may eventually send up little stalks. Some of these stalks form spores that will fall to the soil and germinate into new plants.

The January 2007 issue of Better Homes and Gardens has an article, "Pleasant Under Glass," by Suzy Bales. Here is an abstract: The article highlights the fragile beauty evoked by glass gardens or terrariums. Everyday containers such as carafes and vases can make ideal terrariums. Featured in the article is an antique terrarium that becomes a stage for a miniature woodland garden. It has flowering Cape primrose, rabbit's-foot fern, golden club moss and black and dwarf mondo grasses.

The January 2003 issue of Sunset has an article by Kathleen Brenzel, "Serene Greens," on miniature indoor landscapes: Presents ways in creating a miniature indoor landscapes. Use of copper trays in Irish and Scotch moss; Dimension of the ceramic cache pots for mini bog plants; Amount of water used for hyacinth floats.

Now on to Tolmiea. I consulted several reference books and online plant databases, but none mentioned fragrance as a quality for which this plant is known. This does not necessarily mean it has no fragrance, only that it is not notable.

Date 2017-04-13
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Mosses and moss gardening

I'd like to hear your thoughts about the safest way to remove moss from the north side of my roof. I do organic gardening, and I don't want to contaminate the soil with runoff.

Answer:

The City of Portland had a guide to safe moss removal (formerly available online) indicating that that the most common product sold for moss removal, zinc sulfate, is a pollutant and is toxic to aquatic life. They do say that zinc strips on the roof are an alternative, but they also release zinc, and are pretreated with pesticide.

Toxic-Free Future (formerly Washington Toxics Coalition) offers several recommendations, including physical removal of the moss, landscape planning to keep the roof clear, and the aforementioned zinc strips

Oregon State University maintains a website devoted to mosses, and one page addresses the use of zinc strips as a control. Here is an excerpt:
"Zinc strips are usually considered the long-term solution to controlling mosses [...] Zinc strips and galvanized flashing are apparently relatively safe and inexpensive. They effectively kill or retard the growth of mosses and fungi and appear to have effect up to 15 feet below the zinc flashing along the length of the flashing. To use: apply the rolled zinc or galvanized flashing to each side of ridge caps along the roof peaks. Place a nail down each foot of the zinc strip. With each rain zinc is released from the strip and kills the mosses below the strip. For best results remove the existing mosses prior to treatment. The active ingredient is metallic zinc.
Effectiveness: Zinc strips are considered to be effective for up to one year for most brands. The effect of galvanized flashing (example above) can persist for decades. Success rates vary with the degree of moss development and weather. Zinc strips or flashing are most effective before mosses are well developed. Physical removal of existing moss followed by installation of zinc strips or flashing is an effective long-term strategy for suppressing moss growth.
Negative Side Effects: Direct runoff from the zinc strips or flashing to surrounding vegetation, fish ponds, or water supplies should be avoided, because some contamination by zinc is likely to occur. Zinc strips should not be used with strong acids or bases."

The PAN Pesticides Database has an entry for one type of rolled zinc strip product.

Washington Department of Ecology has a lengthy document analyzing zinc concentrations in industrial runoff, and you can imagine that homes with zinc strips are simply smaller contributors to this problem.

The Environmental Protection Agency lists zinc metal strips (consisting solely of zinc metal and impurities) as minimum risk pesticides.

I think there is no easy solution, and it is a matter of deciding on a lesser of two evils: the physical difficulties of cleaning the moss off the roof, which is most environmentally sound, versus the relatively small amount of pollution from using zinc strips.

Date 2016-11-03
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Soil amendments, Mosses and moss gardening

I have a small rooftop plant bed that's full of moss. Is that an indication of sour soil, and if so, can it be sweetened with Dolomite lime?

Answer:

Moss is often simply an indication of a shady site or compacted soil, but can also be an indicator of low soil pH (i.e., acid soil). I wouldn't recommend adding lime without doing a soil test for pH (you can buy an inexpensive kit at most garden centers), and without considering the pH needs of the plants you have in the bed. You would not want to increase the alkalinity of the soil if your plants are acid-loving.

You may find this link about moss growing in garden beds (from Oregon State University) of interest. Here is an excerpt:
"Mosses grow in garden areas for the same reasons they grow in lawns: for example, deep shade, high acidity, poor drainage, and soil compaction. As in the lawn, mosses do not compete with other plants. Rather, they establish in bare areas where conditions are favorable (Cook and Whisler, 1994).
Mosses have not been shown to hinder the growth of garden plants or trees. Reasons for removal are generally aesthetic. But aesthetics are in the eye of the beholder, and mosses are commonly viewed as positive features in landscaping. For example, traditional oriental gardening holds distinctive roles for mosses (Japanese Garden Society of Oregon 1996; see also Encouraging Mosses). Furthermore, in some situations mosses may help reduce moisture loss and crusting on soil surfaces."

Date 2017-04-13
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: liverworts, Mosses and moss gardening, Lichens

Both my front and back gardens have become covered in moss and/or liverwort. It has intermingled with groundcovers such as sweet woodruff and blue star creeper. I have dug up the liverwort in the past but it comes back. Any suggestions towards eradicating it would be greatly appreciated.

Answer:

It would be important to distinguish among mosses, lichens, and liverworts. Mosses and lichens are not harmful to garden plants. One species of liverwort is known to be a bit of a pest, mainly in greenhouse-grown plants. A first step would be to bring samples to a Master Gardener Clinic for identification. See the following on moss and lichen in gardens:

There are researchers at Oregon State University who have done work on the species which is prevalent in greenhouses, Marchantia polymorpha, but the following information may not be relevant if that is not what you have growing in your garden. The first thing to do--if this is indeed the liverwort you are seeing--is to make sure you are not providing the ideal conditions for liverwort growth. Note that high nitrogen and phosphorus levels encourage growth: if you use fertilizer, check the levels of these nutrients. Avoid quick-release synthetic fertilizer. Below is information on methods of greenhouse (not garden) control of liverwort, from the OSU website:
"Before talking about how to kill liverworts, let's talk about conditions in which liverworts thrive. Liverworts grow vigorously in conditions with high humidity, high nutrient levels (especially nitrogen and phosphorus), and high soil moisture. In an environment that has any of these 3 conditions, it will be difficult to control liverworts (even when using herbicides). In order to effectively control this weed, you must make growing conditions for the liverworts as difficult as possible. To do this, you should attempt to create an environment where the ambient air is dry, the surface of the container is dry (as dry as possible), and nutrients are not available on the container surface."

The link above discusses postemergence control, but bear in mind that if something like acetic acid is used on liverwort growing on your plants it will affect the plants as well.

The Royal Horticultural Society says that liverwort will not harm plants (except by causing competition for small plants) but its presence indicates compacted, acidic, and/or bare soil.

The only time I have encountered liverwort is when transplanting nursery-purchased plants. With these, I physically remove the liverwort from the pot before planting into the garden. I wonder if your soil drains poorly, gets too much water, and/or too much fertilizer. I hope the information above will give you some ideas. Again, I recommend getting a conclusive identification before proceeding.

Date 2017-01-13
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April 11 2017 13:50:16