Moss is an essential component for creating a vibrant and captivating terrarium. It acts as the organic mortar that holds the scene together and adds a verdant flair that makes it truly pop! However, not all mosses are suitable for terrariums, and knowing which ones to use is crucial. In this guide, we will explore the best types of terrarium moss and how to use them to achieve maximum visual impact. Get ready to learn how to grow moss like a boss!
There are thousands of moss species in the world, each offering a unique visual flavor and playing a different role in a naturalistic terrarium setup. The challenge lies in selecting the right moss for your terrarium. To help you narrow down your options, consider the following factors:
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Mosses can be categorized into two main growth patterns: Acrocarpous and Pleurocarpous.
Acrocarpous mosses grow in clumps, like little grassy mounds. They add shape and texture to your terrarium, creating a dynamic landscape reminiscent of rolling hills or grassy hummocks. These clumpy mosses can be sculpted to create a landscape by tearing off appropriately sized chunks and fitting them together like a jigsaw puzzle.
On the other hand, Pleurocarpous mosses grow in sheets. Also known as Sheet Moss, they are perfect for covering large areas with a natural moss carpet. They give your terrarium a woodland look and can even resemble larger plants or tiny trees, adding a sense of scale.
Just like any other plant, different types of moss thrive in different environments. For tropical closed terrariums, you’ll want mosses that prefer warm and humid conditions. However, mosses are adaptable plants, and some temperate species can also flourish in terrariums. Don’t be afraid to experiment with mosses from different climates to see if they can adapt.
Moss can be planted in various ways, depending on its preference. Some mosses grow on top of soil or substrate, loosely attaching themselves with root-like structures called rhizoids. These are known as terrestrial mosses. Others, called epiphytic mosses, prefer growing on hard surfaces like rocks, logs, or trees. Attaching epiphytic mosses to hardscape branches can bring the upper areas of your terrarium to life.
Now that you have a better understanding of the different types of terrarium moss, let’s explore some popular choices:
Clumpy Mosses (Acrocarpous)
- Cushion Moss/Bun Moss (Leucobryum glaucum) – These compact moss mounds are a joy to work with. They thrive in closed terrarium conditions and are great for sculpting and display.
- Mood Moss (Dicranum scoparium) – With lush, wavy leaves reminiscent of windswept grasslands, Mood Moss is another popular option for terrariums.
Carpeting Mosses (Pleurocarpous)
- Sheet Moss (Hypnum curvifolium) – As its name suggests, Sheet Moss grows wide and covers areas like a sheet. It’s a low-growing tropical moss and one of the most popular choices for carpeting terrariums.
- Fern Moss (Thuidium delicatulum) – This moss adds plenty of texture to a terrarium with its long fern-like leaves.
- Sphagnum Moss – Although not fitting into the above categories, Sphagnum Moss is a versatile and commonly used moss in modern terrariums. It can be used to grow other terrarium plants and mosses on top of it.
- Java Moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri) – This moss is equally happy on land and in water, making it an excellent choice for paludariums and vivariums. Epiphytically planted on rocks and wood, it truly shines.
There are many other mosses out there that could be great for your terrarium. Feel free to explore and experiment with different types. If you want to learn more about mosses and terrarium plants, check out the Terrarium Plants Index on 5 WS.
Now that you’ve decided on the types of moss you want for your terrarium, it’s time to get some! Here are a few reliable sources:
- Etsy – Etsy offers a wide variety of live moss for sale, making it our go-to option.
- Amazon – Amazon also stocks some moss varieties from well-known brands. Make sure to check if they are preserved or dried before purchasing.
- Aquarium stores – Many aquarium stores, like Buceplant, carry semi-aquatic moss species suitable for terrariums.
Moss is a versatile plant, and there are endless ways to use it in a terrarium. You can use it as a natural landscape filler or create a pure moss terrarium, also known as a mossarium. Moss terrariums are simple yet elegant, requiring only a small amount of substrate. You can explore shallow containers or even create a moss wall using panels.
When working with moss in your terrarium, keep these key principles in mind:
- Clean the moss before use by soaking it in clean water to remove debris and hydrate it.
- Clumpy mosses may require sculpting to create your desired landscape, while sheet mosses can be torn up and evenly placed around the terrarium.
- For creative moss positioning, you can use plant-safe superglue or fishing line to attach moss to terrarium elements.
- During the first 3 to 4 weeks after adding moss to your terrarium, ensure it remains hydrated to aid in successful acclimatization.
To learn how to create a moss terrarium step by step, check out our guide on How to Make a Moss Terrarium on 5 WS.
What’s your favorite type of terrarium moss? If you have any suggestions or mosses not listed in this article, feel free to share them in the comments below!