Live Moss Makes a Shade Garden Pop with Color

The soft beauty and ease of maintenance of moss make it an excellent plant for a shade garden. Add to this the different shades of green, from the gray green of cushion moss to the vibrant green of carpet moss, and a shade garden has a nearly ideal plant. Just the sight of moss planted beneath trees or at the base of hosta plants speaks of relief from a hot day and the good feeling of an outdoor carpet beneath bare feet. Live moss is easily shipped. If it can’t be planted right away, it can be put in the fridge or even the freezer for a few days.

Moss is a non-flowering plant that reproduces by way of spores and as such it is similar to plants like ferns and horsetails. Because they lack roots, mosses take nutrients from, air, rain and other types of moisture and through photosynthesis.

There are many varieties of mosses and some of them work better in certain areas than others. Sheet moss, for example, can tolerate some sunlight and is an excellent moss for filling in those cracks between pavers. It can also stand a good amount of traffic.

Carpet moss can be used to cover large areas, because, as its name suggests, it lays like a lush green carpet woven of velvet. When it’s young, it is a bright greenish gold, and the green darkens as it gets older. It is so wonderfully soft that people used to stuff their mattresses with it.

Cushion moss not only has a silvery or even white color, but comes in balls and clumps that allow the gardener to use it decoratively. This type of moss prefers sandy soil.

Moss does best not only in shade but in acidic soil. All other weeds and vegetation need to be cleared from the area. Two inches of peat moss should be dug in, and the area watered until it’s muddy. Some gardeners prefer to plant clumps of different types of moss for a mosaic or green checkerboard effect. The clumps should be gently rinsed, then pressed into the area to remove air pockets. While they’re waiting to be planted, the clumps should be kept wrapped in damp cheesecloth.

After the clumps are planted, they should be sealed in place with mud. The bed will need to be checked frequently to make sure it stays moist while the moss establishes itself.
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