Since they obtain all their nutrients from the air (moss has no true roots), moss plants require nothing more than shade, prefer acidic soil, and adequate moisture to flourish. Because mosses have no roots, once established, mosses can regular dry out completely due to lack of rain and then easily turn lush and green within seconds of moisture entering through their leaves. This process is called Poikilohydry.
Since Mosses are non-vascular plants, meaning they don’t have xylem or phloem to move nutrients around their “body.” As plants, they contain chloroplasts, but mosses are unique in that they have them throughout their entire structure and can photosynthesize on all sides (hence their green color). Mosses don’t make flowers or seeds, instead they reproduce with single-celled spores that require water to grow. They can also reproduce asexually by growing new shoots, or by breaking off in pieces and moving via wind or water to a new location.
Though some lichens have “moss” in their name, these two groups aren’t related. In fact, lichens aren’t even plants—they’re actually a partnership between a fungus and an alga. But because mosses and lichens enjoy similar habitats, they are often found growing closely together in forests in our region.
All moss plants need is a firm soil bed in a location with adequate shade. It is also imperative that the area in which moss plants will be grown is blown or swept clear of any existing plants, leaves or debris. Moss also seems to prefer poor quality soils with low nutrient levels and lower levels of organic material - think compact soils.
Before utilizing moss as part of your shade gardening plans, the soil bed for the moss plants should first be tested to ensure the pH is between 4.5 and 5.5 (lower is o.k). If necessary, the soil for the moss can easily be amended with our wettable sulfur to lower the pH to the desired range. Once the moss is placed onto the soil, the sections of moss plants must be tamped firmly into position and watered regularly for the first 2-3 weeks.
Detailed, yet simplistic transplanting directions are included with each moss order. Sun-loving mosses enjoy higher pH and actually like to grow around concrete and pavers.
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Janet Belding writes - Letting go of the Lawn
Rachel Sullivan ABC Science writes - Moss Plants regrown after 400 Years in freezer