Sphagnum moss is a versatile and popular material among plant lovers. It has a wide range of gardening uses, from growing medium and soil amendment, to helping humidity-loving plants retain moisture. And, once you’ll discover the many ways it can benefit your plants, you’ll only wish you started using it sooner.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at 10 exciting ways to use sphagnum moss for plants, including some ways you maybe never even thought of.
What is sphagnum moss?
Sphagnum moss is used to refer to about 380 species of mosses found growing in peat bogs, marshes, and wetlands. It is most common in the Northern Hemisphere, although you’ll also find it growing in New Zealand, Tasmania, and even Brazil.
It is sometimes referred to as sphagnum peat moss, however, the two are not the same. One of the key differences between sphagnum moss vs peat moss is that the first is living moss that’s been dried after harvesting.
Meanwhile, peat moss is a mix of dead or decaying sphagnum moss, and other decayed matter found in peat bogs.
Uses for sphagnum moss
Sphagnum moss has several fantastic properties that will help you grow lush, healthy plants. It is moisture-retentive, has a fibrous texture that facilitates drainage, and is less prone to soil-borne diseases compared to most potting mixes. Plus, it has a unique decorative appeal.
Here are our top tips for using sphagnum moss for your plants.
Use it as a potting medium
If you’re looking for a soilless potting mix for indoor plants, sphagnum moss is an excellent choice. You can use pure sphagnum in containers for growing plants that love a mix of moist substrate and excellent drainage, such as Philodendrons, Alocasia, Anthuriums, even orchids.
To further improve drainage, you can also mix sphagnum moss with a soil amendment such as perlite, pumice, or coco husks.
Build a moss pole
This is one of the best ways to provide support for tropical epiphytic plants that love climbing. A moss pole will also help your Philodendrons grow those large, iconic leaves, and encourage species of Monstera and Epipremnum (Pothos) to develop eye-catching fenestrations.
Making your own moss pole is surprisingly simple. All you’ll need is some PVC coated wire mesh, some cable ties and plenty of sphagnum moss. Cut your wire mesh to size, fill it with moss, tie everything together with cable ties, then wrap your plant around it. Easy!
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Propagate houseplant seeds
Given the fact that sphagnum moss has excellent moisture retention abilities, it makes for a great seed-starter medium. You can use sphagnum moss to germinate just about any plant seed you can think of, including cacti and succulents.
Fill a transparent plastic box with damp sphagnum moss, spread the seeds on top, cover it with a lid, and keep the box in a warm spot with bright indirect light. Depending on the seeds you’re growing, they should germinate in about two weeks to three months.
Root plant cuttings
Some gardeners prefer rooting plant cuttings in soil, others in water. But if you want to take your propagation game to the next level, using sphagnum moss is the way to go. This substrate provides excellent moisture retention and will help your cuttings grow roots faster.
Simply fill a transparent plastic box with sphagnum moss, place your plant cuttings in stem down, and use a spray bottle to keep the moss damp. You should start seeing plant roots in as little as two weeks.
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Use it in air layering
Air layering is a propagation method that works very well for vining and trailing houseplants. It’s also a very beginner-friendly way to propagate your indoor plants. Take some damp sphagnum moss and wrap it around the plant’s growth node. You can use some plastic wrap to secure it in place.
Keep the sphagnum moss damp. When you start seeing roots come out of the bottom of the moss wrap, you can cut the plant stem and transplant it into a container.
Help heal plants with sick roots
Every indoor gardener’s worst dream is seeing their plants die from overwatering. However, just because your plant has root rot doesn’t mean it’s a goner. In fact, you can use sphagnum moss to save a plant that has root rot.
Start by taking the plant out of the pot and washing off all potting mix from the roots. Use a sterilized blade to cut the rotten roots, then put the sick plant in a pot with moist pure sphagnum moss. Keep it there for a month or so, until your plant starts to look healthy again.
Use it as a basket liner
You can use sphagnum moss to line your hanging pots or orchid baskets. This will provide the roots with much-needed air circulation, while also ensuring drainage and moisture.
Long fiber sphagnum moss is a great choice for lining baskets, as it holds its shape better. Alternatively, you can use a mix of chopped sphagnum moss, coco husks, and orchid bark.
Make a kokedama
Looking to add an Asian vibe to your indoor garden? Then try making a kokedama. This Japanese plant growing technique is an excellent space-saver, requires low maintenance, and also helps reduce stress by inviting you to appreciate the beauty of imperfection — or, as the Japanese call it, wabi-sabi.
Kokedama literally means “moss ball”, and it’s easy to make using a bit of peat moss, bonsai soil, some string or twine, and, of course, sphagnum moss.
Add it to a terrarium
Terrariums are perfect for growing plants that need lots of moisture, such as ferns, the nerve plant (Fittonia), small begonias, or carnivorous plants. And no terrarium is complete without sphagnum moss.
Ideally, you’ll want to use living sphagnum moss, but you can also use the more commonly found dried version.
Create a bog garden
Sphagnum moss also has its uses in outdoor gardens, especially if you can find live sphagnum moss. You can use it to create bog gardens, which are perfect for growing acid loving plants.
Simply add your green moss to the top of the soil or as a ground cover, and watch it thrive the same way it would in its natural habitat.
Where to buy sphagnum moss
Sphagnum moss is increasingly popular among house plant lovers, so it’s easy to find in most garden centers and craft stores. It is typically sold in dried form. Moss expands considerably when wet, so a couple of smaller bags should be enough to get you started.
When buying sphagnum moss, try going for moss that has been harvested responsibly and in an environmentally sustainable way.