Types of mosses

Types of Mosses For Your Garden

A moss is a small flowerless green plant that shows absence of true roots, growing in damp habitats and reproduces through spores released from stalked capsules. Moss aids other plants to grow by creating an ideal environment for them and breaks down the soil in rough, rocky environments. It also functions like a sponge, trapping moisture to prevent soil erosion.

Moss is low-maintenance as it doesn’t have a root structure and doesn’t need nutrients from the soil. It receives nutrients through its leaves from rainfall and sunlight. This small plant does not grow out of control or require pruning or mowing. It remains dense, thick and short. Compared to other lawn options like turf grass, it’s totally carefree.

1. Sand Beauty Moss

The sand beauty moss is also called “hoary fringe moss”. It is drought tolerant, unlike other moss varieties. They feature dull green foliage that changes grayish when dry.

Sandy Moss

2. Knight’s Plume Moss

Knight’s plume moss has thick, branched and symmetrical stems that look like bird feathers. This light or yellow-green moss type forms carpet-like patches that are easily recognized among other vegetation.

This moss flourishes in partial to full shaded and moist habitats of acidic soil and typically occurs in mesic heath forests. It grows both on the ground as well as on top of deadwood. It is distributed covering the boreal zone. 

Knight’s plume moss looks like plumes knights used to decorate their helmets with. The scientific name of the species points to this resemblance. They are commonly used as a decorative plant due to their beautiful feather-like appearance. Knight’s plume moss is a common forest species and it needs no conservation measures to assure its occurrence.

3. Glittering Wood Moss

The stems of Glittering Wood Moss are covered in green leaves which are oval and have pointed tips. On the main stems they grow to 2 mm long, but on the primary and secondary branches they are smaller, growing only 0.4 mm in length on the smallest subdivisions. 

Nutrients are received from particles falling on to the leaves or rhizoids from the air and rain. 

They use the energy of the sun that is absorbed through photosynthesis, to combine these nutrients with air and water to produce carbohydrates and sugars that are utilized for growth. 

Glittering wood-moss is a shade-loving plant, and is dependent on the canopy of trees above, or the canopy of shrubs like heather in non-woodland areas, to create suitable growing conditions, and to prevent it from drying out. When weather conditions are dry, the moss shrivels and shrinks, to keep back as much moisture as it can. 

In areas where it is abundant, it helps the growth of other plants by keeping soil moist. Organic matter that gets trapped on the moss will decompose to become soil, to some extent through the action of invertebrates like nematodes and mites. It has also been used greatly by humans, for lining vegetable and fruit storage boxes and as a covering for dirt floors in earlier times.

4. Lanky Moss 

Lanky moss is a creeping, large, branched species of moss. This moss features a striped appearance because of the formation of the pleated leaves. The leaves are glossy and heart-shaped that grow in an uneven arrangement on feather-like branches. The leaves grow up to 4-5 millimeters long. The color of its leaves ranges from shades of yellow to dark olive green. The stems of the plant are rigid and appear brown and red in color. 

Lanky Moss

Lanky moss can grow horizontally-outward. This growth formation creates large, dense mats appearing as a carpet on the surrounding area of the forest floor. Lanky moss seems prickly but the leaves are soft and spongy to the touch. These mats spread across the forest floor growing up to 15 cm in thickness. They act as an insulator and retain water and nutrients.

Lanky moss is a type of feather moss that typically grows in Canada, North America, and Europe. They play the role of a nitrogen fixer by absorbing nutrients and nitrogen that rainwater washes downhill. 

5. Ribbed Bog Moss

Leaves of Ribbed Bog Moss may feature a yellowish tinge and have a hairy appearance. As the yellow leaves of this moss appear to be glowing yellow in some light, it is known by the nickname “glow moss.”

This moss type forms large collections of tufts as it grows, and these tufts cluster to form a very densely matted carpet. You will find it growing around the world in boggy areas, and it is typically the dominant moss type growing in wetlands. If you spot it, you will see that it consists of brownish-orange stalks with very fine greenish-yellow foliage. It does best in cooler climates, and this is why it is very common in Canada.

Ribbed Bog Moss is also known as “bog groove moss”. They are also tolerant of a wide range of moisture levels, climates, and soil types.

6. Water Screw Moss

Water Screw moss grows in yellowish-green or dull green, 1 to 3 cm tall, usually silt-encrusted patches which can be quite large. The leaves that grow up to 1.5 mm wide and 3 mm long are soft and spread when moist, becoming inflected and quite shriveled when dry.

Water screw moss is a decorative looking moss which has small broad leaves arranged in circles around the stem. This makes it look like a carpet of tiny flowers. They mostly grow on trees, but they are also found on moist rocks, walls, and on the sides of shaded roads.

This moss gives you a very decorative look, and it has an extremely attractive appearance that makes it popular in shaded gardens. They prefer sandy soil and gravel in an area with partial shade.

7. Juniper Moss

Juniper moss grows upright and reaches up to 5 inches high. It’s found across the globe but prefers acidic soils and dry habitats. This moss is also called “juniper haircap moss”. 

Juniper Moss

Juniper moss is evergreen and perennial, flourishing on every continent in the world. Unlike most moss types, it prefers dry habitats, and is rare to find it growing in moist conditions. They prefer dry, acidic soil.  It also grows very well when you put it in an exposed area, unlike most moss that need shelter. It is very common in dry grasslands, forest footpaths, gravel, and quarries. It has an unpleasant but attractive look with rosette-like patterns in the spiny foliage. They consist of reddish stems and gray-green leaves with a brown tip. 

8. Heath Star Moss

Found in areas of South America, but it’s now common in other areas, including the UK where it was first introduced in 1941. Heath Star moss has leaves with a star-like appearance. Beware, while pretty, this moss is regarded as invasive because it spreads very fast. It probably does not spread as quickly as a ‘weed’ might.

Heath Star moss prefers to grow on pieces of rotting wood, such as shingled roofs, thatched roofs, old logs, fence posts and also on mining deposits. They are even commonly found in decalcified habitats like dunes and bogs. It features darker brownish-red stems and foliage, and they turn bright green when they are young. As it matures, the moss turns almost black. This moss has a very swift growth habit, and it easily spreads very fast. It can even invade when you have it in suitable growing conditions.

9. Delicate Fern Moss

Delicate Fern moss is also called log moss, this type grows quickly and has the ability to grow on rocks. In its dried form, it’s usually used by florists in floral arrangements. Specifically, it is an easy-to-grow variety, and looks stunning in the garden due to its velvety texture and vibrant green color.

Delicate fern moss and common fern moss are recognized as the same moss type. They are found growing in South and North America. It is easily available in stores when you look for dried moss.

This moss can bond to surfaces really well and is often seen growing on living or dead branches, logs, stumps, rocks, or damp soil. Its dense carpeting potential and large size also make it an excellent protective cover to small vertebrate animals and critters found in woodlands.

Delicate fern moss appears similar to an array of tiny ferns. They feature wide triangular leaves and the stem leaves are often larger than the branch leaves. The leaves consist of very small thread-like branches and tiny bumps inside the cell walls of the plant. It can grow up to 2 feet high and 18 inches wide.

10. Rigid Beard Moss

Rigid Beard moss is the most common moss type within the Didymodon species on calcareous stone. It is commonly found growing in gaps in paving slabs, rocks, concrete, or bricks in older walls. It consists of a ton of tiny leaves that cluster tightly together to form dense, soft mats. It prefers shaded, moist conditions to grow and features a beautiful emerald-green coloring.

Rigid Beard Moss

These moss types have a definite dark emerald green foliage. They grow in dense tufts and show a carpet-like appearance. They prefer acidic soil, but can also grow on rocks in alpine regions and on the soil in grasslands.

Rigid Beard moss shoots form dark green tufts, 0.5 to 1 cm tall. The narrow leaves grow up to 1.5 to 3 mm long, narrowing gradually to the tip, and have more prominent nerves than other Didymodon species. Oval-oblong capsules develop from time to time between autumn and spring. They feature short peristome teeth that are not or only slightly warped.

11. Baby Tooth Moss

Baby Tooth moss is also known as “Woodsy Thyme-Moss” and “Toothed Plagiomnium Moss”. It is named over its sharp-toothed leaves. It prefers cooler weather and partial shade. It can grow in everything from clay to sand and also on rock surfaces. The leaves appear almost transparent and look succulent-like. 

This moss type falls into the perennial category, and it has a shorter life span. They are found in Africa, North America, and Asia. It can be easily identified by the tall stalks it produces, and they hang over the base foliage. These stalks are the outcome of fertile shoots that create nodding spore capsules on top of slim orangish-brown stalks. Fertile shoots produce erect unbranched stems up to 2 cm tall. Sterile shoots produce stretched out unbranched stems up to 7.5 cm. 

Baby Tooth moss consists of medium green foliage with heavily toothed margins. It has low tolerance for full sun or higher temperatures as it prefers moist areas with cooler temperatures, which might make them ideal for bonsai and other temperature controlled potted plants, but not for a lawn or garden.

12. American Tree Moss

American Tree moss got its name not because it tends to grow on trees but because the small clumps look similar to a forest of small evergreen trees. Older stacks may grow up to 5-inches in height. It is ideal for semi-shaded areas. 

This moss type got the name because the appearance looks like an evergreen tree. The color of the leaves depends on their age; older leaves are olive green to dark olive green, average-aged leaves are medium green to dark green, and young leaves near the narrowed tips of their stems are light or whitish green. Dry leaves are dull-colored, while wet leaves are more shiny. When clumped together this moss looks similar to a miniature forest. 

It is commonly found in shady, damp places throughout the Northern Hemisphere. They produce new shoots every year from the horizontal stems that grow along the soil’s surface. They grow up to 2-4 inches high at full maturity. This moss has also been used earlier to make decorative wreaths and crosses.

13. Common Haircap Moss

This moss type is also known as great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks, and common hair moss. They are found growing in areas that have high amounts of rainfall and humidity. The stems can grow up to 12-inches long at full maturity, and this is taller than many other types of moss can get. They have stiff, tough shoots with tapering, dark green spearhead-shaped leaves that will gradually turn brown as the plant ages.

Haircap moss

Common Haircap moss is a frilly bright green moss. This moss appears like a sea of mini evergreens. It grows almost anywhere, in USDA zones 2-15. It’s specifically a good choice for lawn replacement or between pavers. Areas with a lot of rain or higher humidity will see this moss type flourishing. It requires very low maintenance and has a spreading habit.

14. Common Tamarisk Moss

Common Tamarisk moss gives a very clear lacy look. It features a vibrant greenish-yellow color foliage that looks almost like a fern. The dark stems contrast effectively with the leaves. Unlike most types of moss that prefer acidic soil, this one thrives well when you plant it in neutral soil. It will grow in very dense tufts on damp ground or rotting logs.

They are often tri-pinnately branched and form mats 5 to 25 cm across. It is a common moss, found throughout the year in woodland, grassland and hedge banks in damp places. These mosses look really pleasant, constant, lower and grounding, yet astounding in their intricate patterns and captures of light. They soak up rainfall, building life from bare ground and provide shelter to invertebrates.

15. Swan’s Neck Thyme Moss

Swan’s Neck Thyme moss is native to Europe and the eastern portion of North America, and is  commonly seen in the UK. It features dark green, lush foliage that looks similar to traditional fern leaves. It thrives well in acidic soil, and prefers to grow in damp woodlands. This is typically a ground moss, but it can easily grow in logs, tree bases, rocks, or along the banks of streams.

The leaves are around 4 mm long, but can grow up to 8 mm towards the tip of the shoot. They are erect and spread when wet, and twisted when dry. They consist of a toothed border of long, narrow cells. Leaves grow parallel to each other and get narrowed to a point at the end. The stems are densely hairy and dark reddish-brown and yellowish-green colored, above, upright, and 2–4cm tall. 

Spore capsules (sporophytes) are produced by female plants. They are 5 mm long with the lid tapering suddenly into a very short point. The stalks providing support to the capsules are 2.5–5cm long.

Traditionally, swan’s neck thyme-moss was used to stuff mattresses since people believed it would help them sleep better. Early tests performed by scientists have discovered that it contains seven fatty acids, including arachidonic acid which helps to increase immunity and inflammatory responses.

16. Shiny Seductive Moss

Shiny Seductive moss is also called “seductive entodon moss” and “shiny sexy moss”. It is a type of feather moss common in North America. This moss with an odd name grows close to the ground and spreads very fast. 

It is a great choice for establishing cover for green roofs or bare rock gardens with an attractive and bright base. Unlike several types of moss, it prefers full sun. The favorite space for Shiny Seductive moss to grow is on rotten wood. This includes fallen trees, old logs, and fence posts.

This moss grows in soil with high concentrations of organic matter. The yellow-green color with round stems and crowded, rough leaves gives it a snake-like look. Also, the reddish-brown capsules are fairly well-defined, however there are other members of the genus that are alike.

17. Tousled Treasure Moss

Tousled treasure is a feathery moss that does well in partially-shaded areas and is ideal for decorating rock gardens. The low-growing moss may change its color to a reddish tinge, when exposed to sun.

It is also known as beautiful branch moss. This moss grows as flat, large carpets. It usually covers the forest floor or fallen logs if left untouched. 

18. Mood Moss

Mood moss is a beautiful bright green variety that has a typical moss-like appearance. It grows in piles and is perfect for shady rock gardens. In locations with too much sun, the moss is probably to burn. Prevent from placing it in excessive moist areas. In spite of its wonderful name, mood moss doesn’t change colors similar to a mood ring.

Mood Moss

This moss type is also called “broom moss” or “broom fork moss” and is native to North America. It is also found in Asia, Australia, Europe, and New Zealand. They are a robust and imbricate variety that features shiny tufts and wooly stems.

It often grows in thick clusters that can grow up to five inches tall and in due course form a cushion-like patch. It grows upright and its slender stems get covered in spear-head shaped leaves that reach toward the sky. This moss thrives very well in woodland habitats, including forest gardens. It prefers full to partial shade with moist soil, logs, rocks, or tree trunks. It cannot survive in full fun or in soggy areas.

19. Warnstorf’s Peat Moss

This is a beautiful moss that changes colors depending on the amount of sun exposure it gets throughout the day. In the sun, carpets of this moss are a deep red. In the shade, the stems stay green. It grows close to the ground in mineral-rich areas.

Warnstorf's Peat Moss

Like other peat mosses, this variety is found in fens and bogs. The bright red color is quite distinctive for any other moss. 

This is the only moss variety that has an economic value. It is mostly used as stable litter as it is capable of absorbing and deodorizing liquid manure, this moss aids in reducing nitrogen loss. Moreover, it helps keep pests at bay. Lastly, peat moss is used to produce a variety of materials like woven fabrics, gunpowder, paper, and fireworks.

20. Fire Moss

Fire moss is another competently named moss with green tips that appears brownish reddish tinge closer to the ground. They grow in tufts and are sometimes known as purple fork moss or redshank moss. 

It prefers sandy, dry soil to grow. They are found growing all over the world, and it’s common to find them in industrial or urban environments that have been exposed to higher levels of pollution.

Fire moss is a native, short moss that forms dense tufts or cushions occasionally. The stems are erect, often growing up to about 1.3 cm long. The upper 0.5 cm is current year’s growth; usually slightly branched by splitting at the tip of the old growth. The stems sometimes grow up to 7–8 cm long in shaded areas. Leaves are short and hairlike, spreading when moist. They become folded or twisted when dry and their pigment varies from green to ginger.

Fire moss prefers low competition and high light; however, it is shade tolerant to some extent. It contains photoprotective pigments, which is a useful modification for the bright Antarctic environment. 

21. Square Goose Neck Moss

This moss type has a very well-defined red stem on it, and it is found growing in the Southern and Northern Hemispheres. It is also known as “Springy Turf Moss”. Square Goose Neck moss is capable of growing well in a broad range of soil conditions, and it is commonly found in man-made areas such as lawns and golf courses. It is one of the most common types of moss in the U.S.

Square Goose Neck moss grows as a large mat of branching stems, up to 15 cm tall, covered in leaves that are 2–2.5 mm long and bend sharply back at a right angle, and therefore spread outwards from the stem. The leaf bases are broad and consist of a pair of short nerves. The plant hardly produces capsules, so most of the species’ reproduces asexually.

22. Spoon-Leaved Moss

Spoon-leaved moss shows a low-growing cushion-like habit and is characterized by long, odd-shaped cylindrical foliage. This moss provides an essential habitat for different amphibians. It lives longer and prefers humus-rich soil.

This moss forms a very dense carpet of soft, cushioned foliage as it grows. The stems grow up to 1.5-inches long, but they get hidden as the leaves are packed very tightly together. The overlapping, tiny leaves on blunt stems appear like a lot of caterpillars. The new leaves that grow are very bright green in color while the older leaves fade to brown. 

It is commonly found in Canada and the U.S. They are found only in eastern North America and are classified as a crucially endangered species.  In Canada, they are protected under the federal Species at Risk Act.

Spoon-leaved moss often grows on soil near low-lying, flat, seasonally wet areas. They can also grow on tree bases or rocks. They consist of foliage that is shiny green to greenish yellow-brown in color.

23. Dwarf Haircap Moss

This moss type is better known as the aloe haircap moss because the foliage on this plant appears like some types of aloe plant types due to the succulent appearance. It features red, stubby stems with stiffer triangular foliage. They thrive very well growing in sandy, acidic, and loose soil types. It prefers heavy shade and will grow abundantly in sheltered areas on rotting logs.

Dwarf Haircap Moss

The shoots are less than 1 cm tall and most prominent when crowned by male sporophytes. Individual leaves are 3 to 4 mm long. Capsules are generally produced on 3 to 4 cm tall reddish sets, and provide the only dependable means of identification. The short, almost spherical capsule of Dwarf Haircap moss is distinct. 

24. Silky Forklet Moss

Silky forklift moss features narrow and long leaves. The foliage is yellowish-green in color, and it is found growing in banks, woodlands, ditches, or on tree stumps. It prefers more acidic soil and partial to full shade.

Forms dense, yellow-green to mid-green patches or cushions that are usually smaller, up to 3 cm deep. Leaves are more or less curved, 3 to 3.5 mm long, pointing in one direction when moist, and rarely altered when dry. The leaf base is egg-shaped and narrows to a long, fine, channeled point which is toothed, especially near the tip. The nerve is nearly 30% of the width of the leaf base, takes up most of the tip and is usually running outwards. Capsules are common, elliptical in shape, horizontal or inclined, and not swollen at the base. The yellow seta turns browner with age.

25. Catherine’s Moss

Catherine’s Moss is also called “big star moss” because the growth pattern of the leaves resembles stars when viewed from above. They consist of bright green, stiff foliage and prefer well-draining soil.

The leaves will get crumbly when the plant dries out. It is found growing in grasslands or on rocks, and it can survive in a wide range of soil types. It prefers shaded areas, but it can survive mild sunlight exposure.

Catherin’s moss features erect shoots, up to 10 cm tall. The leaves are long and narrow, dark green in color with characteristic transverse swings, and toothed margins. The capsule is curved and cylindrical, with a long beak on the lid. The moss is found on the ground in woods, also on heathlands and waste ground.

26. Pincushion Moss

Pincushion Moss looks much like its name like a pin cushion. The tight small mound of moss appears as a resting place used for sewing. The foliage is blueish green in color. It grows up to 4 inches tall and can spread up to 20 inches in diameter. They are most commonly found in eastern North America and Europe.

It is a perennial moss that forms very large dome-shaped mounds. This moss grows up to two feet wide and five inches tall, and each cushion has a stem spread that gets covered in a thicker greenish-gray, lance-shaped leaves. The smooth and feathery foliage makes the moss look very soft and plump. The plant spreads using wind and spores, often in the winter and autumn months. It prefers to be in moist growing conditions, but it’s more tolerant to drought as compared to other types of moss on the list.

27. Big Shaggy Moss

Big Shaggy moss is also called “electrified cat’s tail moss” or “rough goose neck moss” because of the fuzzy, unkempt appearance of the foliage that resembles a furious cat’s fluffy tail with raised fur. They like humus or moist fertile soil to grow and are commonly found in Pacific Midwest forests.

Big Shaggy Moss

Big Shaggy moss is a large, loosely spreading leafy moss that features pale green leaves pointing in different directions. The shoots of the sprouts are unevenly branched and reddish in color. This bushy moss shoots up to 5 to 15 or even 20 cm long. Whether wet or dry, the leaves spread out in all directions. The leaves grow up to 6 mm long, are straight and have a chaffy appearance, giving the shoot a unique, rather untidy appearance. The leaf features a double nerve, which extends about half the height of the blade and the margins are slightly toothed. Capsules are rare.

This variety is a sign of mature grove-like heath forests. It also flourishes in damp groves and usually grows next to Aspen trees. It is found in temperate and cool areas of the Northern Hemisphere.

It is a common species of glorious old forests and in spite of its appearance, spreads beautifully on the forest floor and. The big shaggy-moss enters the forest floor in later stages of the forest rotation cycle.

How Is Moss Used In Gardening?

Gardeners use some varieties of moss like peat moss mainly as a soil amendment or ingredient in potting soil. It has an acidic pH, so it’s suitable for acid loving plants, such as camellias and blueberries. For plants that like a more alkaline soil, compost is a better option. As compost doesn’t compact or break down quickly, one application of peat moss lasts for many years. Peat moss does not include weed seeds or harmful microorganisms that you may find in poorly processed compost.

Peat moss is an essential element of most potting soils and seed starting mediums. It retains several times its weight in moisture, and releases the moisture to the plant’s roots as required. It also retains nutrients so that they are not rinsed out of the soil when you water the plant.

Also, moss is an evergreen mulch. It is an ideal mulch alternative. It is green, retains moisture and the soil. Its spreading nature also helps to stop the weeds.

Planting moss in your garden is simple. Just follow the instructions listed below:

  1. Revive and Weed the Area – Using a pitchfork, revive and weed the soil in the area where you want to plant your moss. Rake the surface of the soil to make it flat but textured, so the moss filaments can nicely reach the ground.

  2. Test Acidity of Your Soil – Using pH test strips, conduct a soil test to determine pH level. If the result suggests that it’s higher than 5.5, add manure, compost, or another soil amendment to make it slightly more acidic and therefore more appealing to moss.

  3. Water the Planting Area – Using a close by sprinkler system or hose, water your planting area thoroughly, allowing the water to penetrate in for around 30 minutes until the soil is visibly moist and there are no puddles or standing water.

  4. Lay the Moss – Keep your sheets of transplanted moss onto the soil and press them down tightly, pinning them in place with landscaping pins. Alternately, put some light rocks on top of the moss as a temporary fixer.

  5. Keep the Moss Moist – Keep the newly-transplanted moss moist for at least the first few weeks, until it has been established. You can say the moss has developed roots when it doesn’t lift from the soil with a slight pull.

What are the Benefits of Moss for the Garden?

There are many environmental moss benefits in the garden. As a typically slow growing plant, it releases oxygen that helps improve air quality. Moss also absorbs carbon dioxide through segregation. As moss is a naturally growing plant, it looks for areas of soil that allow it to grow and spread freely. These are often bare spots that tend to be eroded. Even though Sphagnum moss is not itself a succulent, it is commonly used for succulent plants to hold on moisture. It is also used as a soil conditioner to retain much-required nutrients in the soil. The best benefit of moss gardens is how maintenance free they are. Gardeners don’t need to worry about fertilizing or regularly watering these gardens.

Is Moss Harmful for the Garden?

No, moss is not harmful to your garden or lawn, however, it may indicate a soil compaction or drainage problem. If these conditions don’t seem to be obstructing the growth of your garden plants, then you may consider yourself lucky. Moss growing on a tree may keep the bark wetter, which could also lead to problems. When wet moss can get heavy and may result in broken branches in windy weather. It can be removed with power washing.

You should take care of your moss garden by making sure certain things. Moss prefers acidic soil that is packed and firm. Moss likes damp environments, so make sure that you keep the soil consistently moist for them. Provide enough sunlight to the varieties that need it. If parts of the plant are getting too long, prune them down a little intending to promote fuller re-growth. 

Contact Edenapp today to help you determine to grow the right variety of moss for your garden or lawn. Edenapp specializes in all the professional lawn and yard maintenance services to help keep your lawn lush and healthy all year round. 

Enjoy a beautifully manicured lawn with our timely yard work services that care for your yard according to the season. Call us today!

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