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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How to grow moss

Update: A lot of you are coming over from Pinterest. Welcome to my humble little blog! Be sure to check out the rest of my blog for more ideas on how to "save money" and "make stuff". If you like it, you can share my blog or subscribe. If you decide to plant any moss (or make anything else you find on my blog), I would love to hear about it! Leave me a comment, or send me a picture. It would make me feel so proud!

When I first wrote this blog, I had just planted the moss, and I didn't know how it was going to work out. That's why the link from Pinterest says "Two Ways to Grow Moss". If you read to the end, you'll see that it's really one way to actually grow moss, and two ways that don't work at all. On to the original blog:

My dad is building an outdoor model train set. It has a mountain with a waterfall that flows into a river, then into a pond. It's pretty cool. He put mulch in there, but I guess with the big, old trees that they have, it dropped leaves all over and they stuck to the mulch, so that wasn't working there. I've been dying to try planting moss, so that is what we will try to do.  Moss already grows well in their yard because it's shady and the soil is poor quality.

Have you seen this perfect picture of moss and thought it must be so easy to grow moss? Look at that perfect outline! It's so thick and lush! It kind of looks like they cut this out of the ground and glued it on to the bricks... I think I even see dirt stuck to the back... Suspicious.

Our first attempt to grow moss was about two months ago. We used a recipe that called for two cups buttermilk, two cups water and about a cup of moss. Blend it up, pour it out, grow moss.  Nothing happened. We also transplanted some moss. That is thriving nicely, but there isn't a lot of it. This is what it looked like before we got started on our second try.

I found a new recipe that is so disgusting and so smelly, that I feel something is bound to start growing.

1 cup flour
2 cups buttermilk
2 packages of active dry yeast (5 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 - 1 1/2 cups of dried and chopped/crumbled moss

Once you've done that, mix it all in a bucket, and leave the bucket outside in the sun for about three days (it's going to smell) After that, liberally brush a moist, shady place with the smelly mixture.

When you harvest your moss, you need to keep in mind that if you are trying to grow moss in dirt, harvest moss that is growing in dirt, and if you are trying to grow moss on rocks or concrete, harvest your moss from those places.

Have you ever smelled buttermilk? It is so disgusting. And chunky. I can't imagine why anyone would put this in food. I used a blender, but I probably didn't need to. I should have just chopped up the moss and stirred it in the bucket. It would have been faster, since I used three quarts of buttermilk and the corresponding amount of the rest of the recipe. The dirt in the moss turns the mixture brown and it looks a bit like a chocolate milkshake.

But it does not smell like one.

This is a couple of hours in the bucket. It is bubbling away and luring many flies to a yeasty, buttermilky death.

This is what it looked like after 24 hours.

After 48 hours and a rainshower.
Here it is in the sun. I wonder if the neighbors will complain. I hope it's OK if it's rained on.

After 72 hours.
If I smelled the most wonderful food in the world, but I saw the corpses of those who had been eating the same food lying around, I don't care how good it looked, I wouldn't eat it. I guess flies don't feel the same way. I think we put a significant dent in the fly population.

Since my parents already have so much moss growing, and they're planning to plant grass in this spot, I can scrape up as much moss as I want in order to transplant it. I used a small shovel to scrape it up. But you might as well use a large shovel. Try to get the largest pieces possible. I dug up two bucketfuls.

See? They really do have a lot of moss in their yard.

This is where I dug up the moss. But if you want to keep your moss, you can spread out the places where you dig and it will grow back faster.

Then, just spread it out like so. Get it good and wet, but don't spray too hard with the hose. Keep watering it until it is well-established.

On the third day, I spread the buttermilk goo around the outside of the tracks and the bald spot near "Paris Mountain".
This goes on nice and thick, and smells a bit like beer.

If you have a lot of moss that you can dig up and transplant, I think that's the easiest way to go.

I will let you know in six to eight weeks if the goo method worked!

Update: Two weeks in, and the moss we transplanted looks like it has always been there. I don't see any sprouts yet from the yeast mixture, but it's quite early still.

Update #2: It has been two months since we spread the messy moss mix, and we haven't seen any new moss sprouting from it. There are a lot of different types of moss, though. So maybe it works with some kinds and it doesn't work with other kinds. I don't know what variety moss we have.  If you have tried this, or another method, will you let me know in the comments? Especially if you've had success.

The transplanted moss has taken root and looks great! I am very happy with that method.


  1. Thanks for that new idea. I am doing some moss experiments myself. I'll let you know what I learn...if anything. Nice blog.

    1. Let me know if you get any moss to grow!

  2. I scraped up a lump of moss 3 years ago and just plopped it in a planter that I transported my wild strawberries in when I was moving house. It thrived and spread out a treat. On Thursday I'm creating a fairy garden and originally thought of turf. Then I realised that 'mowing' it would prove to be a nightmare and had the idea of using moss. That's what brought me here. I now have enough faith to go with my original idea and tomorrow I shall go out and harvest some moss. Thank you Charlotte xXx

  3. I like your blog! Thanks for documenting your process so thoroughly. This is definitely more helpful than what I can find on Instructables.

  4. I too did the same thing as So Sez Kez and brought some in from outside. I put it in a shallow dish on top of gravel from my fish tank and added tulip bulbs. The moss is growing well and looks lush and green. That was 6 months ago and it is thriving.