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Re: moss

  • Subject: Re: [ferns] moss
  • From: "Marge Talt" mtalt@hort.net
  • Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2002 00:52:35 -0400

I'm a big fan of mosses, but have no experience with starting it on
imported rocks.  I have been cultivating several large patches of
moss that showed up naturally on knobs of raw clay on the property
and just today noticed baby Polystichum acrostichoides coming up in
several places in one patch and thought to myself what a good nursery
moss makes for fern sporlings.

One thing I learned from reading George Schenk's , "Moss Gardening,
Including Lichens,  Liverworts,  and  Other  Miniatures", pub. by 
Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, in 1997, was that mosses will
not grow in or on environments they would not naturally occupy.  So,
you can't take mosses from one place and expect them to automatically
grow in another.  They have specific requirements for light, moisture
and substrate, depending on species.

If you have not read this book and are interested in cultivating
mosses, I highly recommend it.

If you find mosses growing on rocks in the same type of
sun/shade/moisture as you can offer, you have a fair chance of
lifting patches and transplanting them.  I would also imagine that
the type of rock makes a difference to the moss, i.e. those that grow
on limestone would probably not grow on granite.

I  spent countless hours, over the years, carefully moving bits of
moss from where they were growing to where I wanted them to grow and
watching them die before that fact penetrated what passes for my

Moss spore is in the air just about everywhere.  If the conditions
are right for a particular species, it will grow whether you want it
or not and if they are not right, you can try planting it a million
times and it will just curl up and die.

I have had success in encouraging moss on logs by positioning
sections of dead tree bark with moss on it adjacent to logs I wanted
to be moss covered and keeping the logs pretty much continually damp
- takes a few years, but eventually they do start moving onto the

If you find some moss covered rocks and can offer the same kind of
rock, you might just try moving the moss covered rocks next to the
ones you want covered - doesn't have to be a lot, just enough so that
the spore can land on your rocks and start growing.  Keeping the
rocks damp would probably help.

Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland
Editor:  Gardening in Shade
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> From: Ralph Archer <ralpharcher@worldnet.att.net>
> A number of ferns such as some Asplenium species seem to prefer to
grow in
> the moss covering rocks or rock ledges. Has anyone had any
> generating such an environment on large rocks brought into a
woodland area?
> I have read that painting a hypertufa pot with moss, ground up in
> buttermilk, is one way to generate moss on that sort of container,
but there
> was no mention of doing this to a solid rock surface.
> Ralph in Louisville, KY USA

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