Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hypertufa Trough Update: Moss

Some of you may remember reading my post in July "Project: Hypertufa Trough." I posted my mother's planted hypertufa troughs but not my own. I have been collecting mosses all summer through fall and these I have transplanted into my trough set in partial to mostly shade, in a section of my new woodland edge border.

My trough is square. I love mosses and wanted to grow some in a special way so as to be a focal point and appreciated up close. I am not an expert, but will give you a brief overview of mosses. Mosses are a "living sponge." There are two types: clumpers or ball mosses ("top-seeded"), and spreaders ("many seeded"). Clumping mosses are perfectly at home among pavers or on rocks. Spreading mosses are happy growing in your lawn and will put up with light foot traffic.

My moss was collected from: my driveway, my garden, and a couple of state parks. Please note that I do not collect plants from the wild. The moss I collected from the state parks was mostly the clumping variety and had already been "kicked up" by visitors and was not likely to survive without replanting. You can propagate moss by collecting and sowing spores. Moss spore can be stored in wax paper in the refrigerator for years!

You can also "blend" moss to cultivate a larger area. Here is a blender recipe:

2 c water
2 c chopped moss
1/2 c beer or buttermilk (hmm, I usually have beer on hand over buttermilk)
2 tsp gel powder (water absorbing polymer crystals or powder sold at garden centers - helps to retain moisture while moss is establishing)

Blend lightly - a couple of pulses will do. Do not attempt a moss smoothie.

You should water newly transplanted or blended moss every couple of days while it is establishing. You can also literally glue clumps of moss with white or hot glue to rocks to get it to grow. I may try this with a couple of big rocks I just acquired.

So far, so good. All my moss transplants seem to be doing well. We'll see how they survive the winter. I hope that they take over this trough!

I will attempt to identify the mosses I've collected - this is my best guest based on reading and photos. If you are reading this and are a moss guru, please correct me if I'm mistaken.

1. Cushion Moss, Dicranella heteromalla (collected from my driveway in a very shady spot)
2. Juniper Haircap Moss, Polytrichum juniperinum (a favorite of gardeners in Japan)
3. Silver Ball Moss, Leucobryum glaucum (most easily recognizable and very drought tolerant)
4. Feather Moss or Log Moss, Hypnum imponens (very common lawn moss)
5. Silvery Sidewalk Moss, Bryum argenteum (most common - think sidewalk cracks)

My source for this post includes a book I own entitled Native Ferns Moss & Grasses by William Cullina.


  1. I love mosses and your trough is very attractive!

  2. That looks so nice! I love the idea of collecting mosses. Right now almost our whole front lawn is moss and it even sounds like stepping on a wet sponge it's so wet out there.
    The Juniper haircap moss is really pretty!

  3. One of these (years) I will make a hypertufa trough. I say that every year. Moss - I have plenty of that, don't need to grow my own. Some day......

  4. This is truly fascinating to me . . . blending moss. Your creation is lovely and so nice to touch I would imagine. Thank you for this lesson! Beautiful!

  5. This is so interesting. I love moss when it appears but never thought of collecting and cultivating them. A moss garden is truly magical. Lovely post. cheers, catmint

  6. Great post! I love moss but have never attempted to identify the ones growing in my garden. Your trough is lovely. I look forward to seeing its progress, as well as your new woodland border!


Thank you for joining me in my garden in the making!

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