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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Q and A: Reviving sphagnum moss


Thanks to Molly K. for this Q and A:

Question: I was wondering if you could offer any more details on how to revive dried sphagnum moss? and how would I know if what I have is even capable of regeneration?

Answer: Most of the dried moss you find at craft stores is a form of dried long fiber sphagnum moss. These dried vine-like tendrils sometimes, but not always, contain the dormant live sphagnum moss. You can check for the live moss by looking for the "crowns" of the moss- which look like a small clover blossom. These crowns are a good indicator of a chance at sprouting the moss.

To propagate the moss you must provide a humid temperate environment with a decent amount of air circulation. This can be achieved in a bottle terrarium, a plastic take out containers with a few holes punched in the top or even large plastic bins with open tops. People all seem to have their own secret for success- a grow lamp or a partial submersion in standing water or even seaweed sprays.

Watch for the appearance of mildew, spidery webs or algae. If it's a small bit you can remove the offender but if it becomes expansive its best to start over with clean containers.

I have found that you can experiment with light levels and moisture levels- but you do need to stay patient. Sometimes it can take the live sphagnum moss a few months or more to revive. But once it becomes a bright green you know you are working with the live stuff.

Once it becomes a healthy darker green you can switch it over to growth on a soil substrate. Under the proper conditions and given enough time it can fill out to get the mossy miniature "grass" appearance.

Good luck!

12 comments:

  1. Hi Lauren,

    Thanks for your comments on my terrarium. I feel like I've entered into a whole new terrariumy world...and it's really inspiring. Your blog is really interesting and I'm going to read it in great depth later on (during my tea breaks today i think). Thanks for poiting it out to me.x

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  2. How interesting! Never new you can bring it back to life!

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  3. Hi Lauren! Great blog you got here! Thanks for pointing it out. I'll be adding you to my google reader list.

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  4. Hi Lauren, I came across your blog and I have to say, I find it very interesting and inspiring!
    I also have a suggestion how to revive Sphagnum moss. Fill a bucket, sink etc., with warm water and just dunk it. The wonderful thing about Sphagnum moss is that it gets it's colour and freshness back quite quickly after being dunked in warm water! As a florist I have dealt quite a few times with dry Sphagnum when I needed it nice and moist! But some warm water can do miracles!

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  5. What are the lighting needs for reviving a dried moss and once its revived? Also I once read about soaking few of the spore heads and sprinkling them. Do you know how to go about it? Thank you.

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    1. This is a great question archana! I am going to review some resources and post a reply to your question shortly.

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  6. I don't know anything about moss. I ordered some live sphagum moss from Amazon and it came dried in a plastic bag. I'm not sure what I should do with it. Do I need to soak it in water? And what should I plant it in? I'm confused!

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    1. Hi Beth - it really depends on what you are using the moss for! Are you trying to grow living moss in a terrarium with the sphagnum moss or use it as a filtering layer in your terrarium?

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    2. I'm wondering if you only want to moisten the dried moss without any soil, or does it green up then you transfer to soil?

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    3. Good question Paula! The moss can revive when planted in soil, but it can take a few weeks. Also, it will start sprouting new little legs of moss, rather than reviving the part you started with.

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    4. So how much light should the moss be in?

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  7. I've always heard high light and humidity. It often revives on carnivorous plants like Venus fly traps and sarracenia, which love full sun. I would try it in a plastic container to hold humidity and place it somewhere sunny. Not sure about having a lid on the container though, because you want air flow and it to not bake. I bought a batch of dried moss recently and still have half the package. Thinking about trying to see if I can get spores to sprout in it.

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