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Author Topic: Moss as a growing medium  (Read 6110 times)

Rodger Whitlock

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Moss as a growing medium
« on: September 23, 2008, 10:29:38 PM »
This year I acquired a specimen of Epigaea repens for the first time in many years. Remembering the difficulty I had keeping it alive in the distant past, I decided it was time to try something different in the way of potting composts. Following a sort of intutive inspiration, I ended up peeling sheets of moss off my concrete patio, and potting on my Epigaea in a largish pot surrounded by this, torn into pieces and placed in the pot upside down.

I have kept the pot well watered, and in nearly full sun, and it has done very well so far, growing to a reasonable degree, though it is still far from filling its pot. (I just hope that the gods do not strike it down now that I am boasting about it!)

I also tried potting a specimen of Primula pruhoniciana 'Schneesturm' in the same way, and the results have been even more outstanding. Though in bright sun that has scorched and yellowed the leaves of other primulas in the section Vernales, this one pot has luxuriated in a cabbage-like way, and the leaves have been a deep green all summer long.

I'm not sure if this development is to be welcomed more for extending the range of potting composts at our disposal, or for offering a way to dispose of unwanted moss growing on pavements, but either way it is worth the experiment.

I got the original idea from seeing a picture of Primula juliae growing in the wild in a gorge in the Caucasus mountains, coming up from between large moss-covered fragments of rock next to a rushing stream.
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

cohan

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Re: Moss as a growing medium
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2009, 08:04:48 AM »
so, rodger,
did you pot these plants in pure moss, or was it just a topdressing?

Rodger Whitlock

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Re: Moss as a growing medium
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2009, 09:43:00 PM »
so, rodger,
did you pot these plants in pure moss, or was it just a topdressing?

Pure moss. Stuffed the pot with sheets of it torn from paving in shady & damp areas, inserted the plants into holes poked in the moss and stood back.

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

cohan

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Re: Moss as a growing medium
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2009, 09:03:55 AM »
so, rodger,
did you pot these plants in pure moss, or was it just a topdressing?
Pure moss. Stuffed the pot with sheets of it torn from paving in shady & damp areas, inserted the plants into holes poked in the moss and stood back.

good to know.... sounds like it would need constant watering! not much moss on pavements here (not much pavement here!!) but lots in the 'lawn' and in the woods...
 i have a pile of ends of logs and branches left from cutting firewood that are mossy---as i cut wood over the winter, i kept the mossy ends--and will use these in some kind of bed with native woodland plants, such as Pyrolas, Linnaea, Mitella etc.... this isnt really the growing medium though, at least not at first, so much as a kind of woody crevice garden i am thinking of...

Eric Locke

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Re: Moss as a growing medium
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2009, 11:08:05 PM »
so, rodger,
did you pot these plants in pure moss, or was it just a topdressing?
Pure moss. Stuffed the pot with sheets of it torn from paving in shady & damp areas, inserted the plants into holes poked in the moss and stood back.

good to know.... sounds like it would need constant watering! not much moss on pavements here (not much pavement here!!) but lots in the 'lawn' and in the woods...
 

Cohan

If you put a layer of ordinary compost at the bottom of the pot this will reduce the amount of water needed to keep the moss alive. ;) I use this method in the culture of some orchids.

Eric

Rodger Whitlock

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Re: Moss as a growing medium
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2009, 03:57:26 AM »
There's a point that isn't obvious: the sheets of moss I tear off my deteriorating concrete patio and similarly ancient asphalt paving bring with them a layer of sediment they've caught. (Or perhaps it's concrete dust after the moss has attacked it.)

It's been a year now since I did this. The Epigaea is still alive, having flowered modestly this spring, but I can tell the moss is slowly breaking down: the "soil" level in the pot is dropping. Just what the long term prognosis is, I dunno.

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

cohan

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Re: Moss as a growing medium
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2009, 08:27:37 PM »
There's a point that isn't obvious: the sheets of moss I tear off my deteriorating concrete patio and similarly ancient asphalt paving bring with them a layer of sediment they've caught. (Or perhaps it's concrete dust after the moss has attacked it.)

It's been a year now since I did this. The Epigaea is still alive, having flowered modestly this spring, but I can tell the moss is slowly breaking down: the "soil" level in the pot is dropping. Just what the long term prognosis is, I dunno.

i suppose any plants which grow in something like this naturally would be continually growing upwards or the moss would engulf them, so you could keep adding fresh moss on top... no doubt need to empty out bottom occasionally, though i'd think they'd root in that too..

 


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