Growing Sphagnum Moss






Sphagnum can be very easy to cultivate if a few simple rules are followed. I've been growing several species now for a couple years with some excellent results. Here is a summary of what I have learned from scientific journals and my own personal experiences.

1. Start with fresh, actively growing cuttings taken from the top 10cm of the plant, below this viability drops off proportionally.

2. Chop these cuttings into segments at least 1-3cm in size. Any smaller tends to over stress the cuttings and reduce regeneration.


3. Use a substrate consisting of good quality peat. If building an outside mini-bog, use a minimum depth of 50cm if possible.

4. Sow at a minimum rate of 1:10 (cuttings taken from 1 square foot are used to "seed" 10 square feet). Coverage rates are directly proportional to sow rates. Ideally, a continuous light layer of quality cuttings would be used.

5. Growth rates have been shown to increase with an initial light covering of mulch. It needs to be deep enough to prevent the moss from drying out, but thin enough to permit light to reach the moss. In my small-scale cultures I use the same sphagnum. In larger applications straw has been used successfully. Sphagnum will also benefit from some vascular plants. A commonly cited example is Cotton Grass. All of this improves the microenvironment found at the surface of the peat.

6. Water level is critical for respiration and photosynthesis. Most species of Sphagnum will appreciate an occasional  flooding of 3 cm or less. Respiration and photosynthesis levels peak out with a water level of 12cm below the surface. (However, this is for mature cultures in which the sphagnum is over 12cm in height) In new cultures you must maintain the water level at a point that prevents the sphagnum from drying out. Browing of the tips is usually an indication that conditions require a higher water level.

7. Use only rain, distilled or
RO water. Sphagnum will not tolerate hard water. 

8. Ideal temperature range for most species is 50-70f

9. Sphagnum appreciates a "basin” when getting started; this helps to maintain a more favorable microenvironment. For my cultures I use plastic containers that protrude a few inches above the moss.

10. As a rule of thumb, the more colorful the species, the higher the light level required to maintain that color level. (Almost all species can be found in green when grown under lower light conditions)

Sphagnum occurs naturally in true
bogs, fens, swamps...etc.
Truly optimal growing conditions will vary somewhat from species to species, as will color, growth rates, Ph levels and so on.

There are excellent field guides available for Sphagnum. But even with a good guide and a microscope, correct identification can still be difficult at best.

Thanks for visiting and good luck!












I recently acquired some live samples from
New Zealand

 (Full NZ and USA documentation on file)


Click on images to enlarge



S. cristatum is the species most commonly exported from NZ



S. falcatulum loves it's new home. A very fast grower and the only species that I have seen listed as also being native to Antarctica.





In the book "Mosses of New Zealand” S. subnitens NZ is listed as being a "rare" species.


The above cultures are being grown indoors under GE Chroma50 5000k 90+ CRI fluorescent lights



S. subtile (Oregon, USA Origin) growing outside in a 95-gallon container.  The original live sample was purchased from Cook's Carnivorous Plants.
(S. subtile typically remains green even in full sun)


You may also notice that my area is in desperate need of rain, it's been a long, hot and dry summer



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