Native Plant of the Month: Moss
moss. This simple, one inch high plant is easy to grow in shady places where
grass is reluctant to provide more than a few sparse, unhappy blades. Moss
likes nutrient poor and compacted soils, is not fussy about pH, doesn’t require
fertilizer, never needs to be mowed and is evergreen if kept moist. It survives
periods of drought by going dormant and turning brown but, unlike most other
plants, it quickly revives to a beautiful emerald green when watered.
Moss is an excellent ground cover for ferns and other woodland plants and
shrubs and can be used in place of invasive species like myrtle and ivy. Other
than occasional light watering, the only maintenance moss requires is blowing
off debris and fallen leaves. Since a thick carpet of moss is weed resistant,
not much weeding is required.
Here’s how to start your moss garden: choose a shady place and remove all
weeds and debris such as small rocks, branches and leaves. (You can use a
pre-emergent like Preen to prevent existing seeds from germinating.) Moss likes
to be in direct contact with the soil, so it helps to lightly scratch the soil
surface to help moss attach.
Once planted, water it and walk on it once, lightly. In Madison County moss
loves to grow in shady lawns and woods. Some people dislike moss and are happy
to have you pull up a clump or two and carry it off. A large clump of moss can
be divided into many tiny pieces.
Another way to get moss is to propagate it yourself. Before you try this
make sure the person who cooks and cleans your kitchen is away on a shopping
Here's a recipe. Mix a large clump of moss and 2 cups of buttermilk in a
blender. (Some people add ½ cup beer and ½ cup sugar). Blend to the thickness
of a milk shake and spread or paint on rocks, pots, logs and even the ground.
For further inspiration and some wonderful photos check the web. The quiet
beauty of a moss garden inspires peacefulness and rest. Add a small bench,
brimg out your morning coffee and enjoy. ( by Marian Plaut)