This time of year, when most of the landscape is brown, and before the heavy snows cover the forest floor, one of my favorite sights in the woods are the many mosses. They seem to really glow with their vibrant shades of green, sometimes complimented with equally colorful spore capsules. With the absence of other green plants to hide them and compete for your attention, they are able to easily stand out in the landscape.
Mosses are of great value in the garden, often growing where other plants won’t or can’t. Most mosses need but even moisture and shade to thrive, often with little or no soil. Some will tolerate sun, but usually not for long periods of time. When they do dry out and wither, the first bit of moisture revives them, and quickly.
If you pay attention to the conditions a particular moss prefers, you can successfully transplant or propagate that moss in your garden. While many grow on soil, some prefer rotted wood, and others thrive on rocks.
Transplanting small plugs to your garden works very well. Make sure you sever the plug where the dead looking brown underside meets the soil. Place firmly into the new site and keep moist for several weeks until established. If happy it will spread. One killer for moss is to be covered by debris or fallen leaves. It smothers them.
Moss can also be encouraged to grow on rocks and concrete. If taken from a rock, the pieces can be literally glued to the new rock or concrete surface. From these pieces, the surface will be colonized.
Another way to establish moss on rocks or concrete is to make a slurry or paste that can be spread or sprayed on. Blending equal amounts of moss with yogurt, buttermilk, or water and sugar will give you a mixture you can paint onto a surface that you would like the moss to grow on. The amount of each ingredient need not be exact. Keep it moist and shaded, and in a few weeks, signs of growth will appear.