Sphagnum Moss is an extremely versatile and useful addition to any garden.
Colors can range from deep green to shades of red, pink, or orange. Most varieties are one to ten centimeters in height and grow tightly packed together as clumps or mats. It functions well as a soil amendment, a seed sprouting medium, and attractive filler. Its unique ability to store several times its weight worth of water makes it a valuable soil additive to gardens and potted plants. The same properties of Sphagnum Moss that allow it to store water also make it an excellent acidifier, so it is a beautiful addition to the soil of acid-loving plants. Blueberries, in particular, thrive in soils rich in Sphagnum Moss. Also, its absorbent and acidic properties inhibit mold, bacteria, and fungi growth, making it an ideal medium for sprouting seeds and protecting plant roots. It can also be used to lighten, improve, and aerate heavy, clay-laden or sandy soils. Sphagnum is excellent filler between paving stones because it can grow and change its form to fill the spaces between the rocks. Sphagnum Moss is the primary component of hanging basket liners and has historically been used as a wound dressing, even as late as World War I. Propagation of Sphagnum Moss occurs through wind dispersal of spores. It can also be spread by separating the clumps and replanting. Given the proper conditions, Sphagnum Moss can spread to form a carpet across a garden, locking in nutrients and moisture while preventing weed growth. Sphagnum Moss grows best in a shaded area with plenty of water. Moisture is essential for Sphagnum Moss, though if it does dry out, it can come back if sufficient water is provided. It is a natural plant to grow as it needs very little tending once established.
Spaghnum Moss is hardy down to -45 degrees and so can grow and thrive almost anywhere.
Sphagnum moss is relatively ubiquitous; if you grow plants for any garden, it’s likely that you use some form of spaghnum moss. Spaghnum moss isn’t the same thing as peat moss, however, and understanding the properties and benefits of spaghnum means understanding the difference.
Peat moss does start out as sphagnum moss, but it is mostly layered upon layer of dead spaghnum over long periods of time. Once this happens, it becomes peat, rather than spaghnum. Spaghnum moss can be used similarly but is often more desirable just because it has a neutral pH level. This attribute means that it’s possible to use it on a broader variety of gardens, growing a more extensive variety of plants.
Spaghnum is famous because of its high density as well. The tightly-packed nature of the fibers allows it exceptional at supporting the weight of those more abundant, more massive plants. Studies have been done that indicate this moss is strong enough to support large, enormous animals, so gardeners don’t need to worry about spaghnum cracking under pressure.
Like many varieties in the moss family, spaghnum is exceptionally absorbent, readily able to take on and expel water, and can be reused for this purpose. Dried out, it makes excellent fuel as well.
The moss typically grows in abundance in areas that are quite high in humidity and get decent amounts of rain. Usually, the best areas for optimal growth are somewhat shaded. However, some varieties of spaghnum need full sunlight to thrive and grow properly.
In appearance, the leaves grow in tight tufts and are always found near the stem of the plant no more than a few inches high at most. These leaves occasionally take on a slightly “toothy” shape as well. This moss comes in a relatively wide variety of colors from yellow, pink, brown or red, but is most commonly found with leaves of light green.