How To Grow Moss (In Small Spaces) – The Ultimate Guide

Moss is the boss when it comes to creating beautiful, peaceful little Zen gardens.

Are you interested in growing your own moss, but don’t know how to get the ball rolling?

Where do I get moss from? Does it grow in the same way that other plants do? How can I ensure it flourishes in the small space I have to work with?

These might be some of the questions that are stopping you from getting mossy. But fear not – we’re here to break down all the information and steps you’ll need to learn how to grow moss – and have fun doing it!


Before We Start Growing Moss

Let’s take a look at some of the info that may help you decide which direction you’d like to go in.

Types of Moss

You’ve seen moss and know what it looks like, but… what is moss, exactly?

Moss is a plant that grows through its production of spores. It does not have true roots, leaves, stems or branches, and spreads outwards, giving it the appearance of a carpet.

Moss thrives in damp areas, so take note: water is your friend when it comes to growing moss!

There are many different types of moss, but they boil down to two overarching groups, depending on their growth patterns:

  • Pleurocarpous 
  • Acrocarpous

Pleurocarpous moss spreads quickly, without growing any bulk first. It’s a quicker solution, but with less padding.

Acrocarpous moss gets nice and bulky by growing upright before daring to spread out, which will take longer but will look fuller in the long run.

A popular type of moss for Zen gardens and around bonsai trees is known as Kyoto moss; whereas Sphagnum moss is often a good choice for terrariums.

It’s a good idea to read up on different types of moss species and their uses to learn which would be the best choice for you.

Check out this link to see different moss types and pictures!

Where to Buy Moss?

First of all, you don’t have to buy moss!

Many people have moss growing right in their own backyards, and if that’s the case for you, you can go ahead and get started transplanting the moss to the container you wish to grow it in.

All you need to do is peel it back, and there you go! 

Need help transplanting moss?

This article has some simple steps on how to remove and transplant moss.

You can also source moss from damp areas such as by rivers or streams, from rocks or the trunks of trees in areas that see more moisture than they do sunlight.

For a great video guide on how to collect and transport moss, go ahead and watch Burkes Backyard video below!

But if nature walks in wet spots aren’t really your thing, you can always buy online! Many online shops have moss spores for sale if you want to grow from scratch, and a quick Google search will take you where you need to go.

Amazon is always a good starting point – check out these Kyoto moss spores if you want to try your hand at growing moss from spores.

However, if you want to learn a couple different techniques to grow moss, read on…


What You’ll Need to Grow Moss

Now that you’ve sourced your moss, we’re going to take a look at two simple ways to grow it in a small space: in a terrarium, and from a “moss milkshake”. Choose your own adventure!

to Grow Moss in a Terrarium

What You Need

  • A terrarium, jar, or other transparent glass container​​​​
  • Stones, pebbles, or bark (small pieces are best)
  • Dirt, if you’re growing additional plants
  • Moss
  • Water
  • A spray bottle
  • Any ‘extras’

By “extras” we mean anything that will add your own flair to the terrarium.

Think other small plants such as cacti or bonsai trees, miniature figurines, colorful beads - the choice is yours!

This is by no means essential… but it does make it fun!

to Grow Moss from a “Moss Milkshake”

What You Need

  • Moss​​​​
  • 2 cups buttermilk or plain, unsweetened yoghurt
  •  2 cups water
  • Blender
  • Paintbrush (optional)
  • A surface to grow your moss on
  • A spray bottle filled with more water

How to Grow Moss Indoors: Your Step by Step Guide

Alright, did you decide the adventure you’d like to go on? We’ll start with Option A: the terrarium.

Option A – How to Grow Moss in a Terrarium

Step #1. Lay the Foundation

Take the stones, pebbles, and/or bark and lay them in the bottom of your jar or terrarium.

The exact depth can be left up to you (and will also depend on the size of your container), but a recommended depth is of at least an inch, or 3 centimetres.

A layer of rocks or bark at the bottom is a good idea to ensure proper drainage (this is especially good if other plants will be accompanying your moss).

Step #2. Place in some Dirt

Moss does not depend on dirt to grow, in the way that other plants do. This step is mainly for those of you who wish to grow other plants alongside the moss.

If you want a bit of variety in your terrarium, place a layer of dirt down so your other plants will be able to root themselves.

If you like, leave an area of rocks exposed so you can grow your moss on them, rather than the dirt.

Layer in a couple inches of dirt.

Note: Check out this list on the Best Plants to Grow in Your Terrarium, for help in choosing a suitable plant.

Step #3. Soak Your Moss

Before you lay your moss down, soak it in water, allowing it to absorb some moisture.

Gently press out any extra water so it is not dripping wet

Step #4. Place Your Moss in the Terrarium

Once your moss is sufficiently wet, press it down against the stones or bark you have in your container. Hold firmly for a moment before releasing.

Pro Tip: As an extra precaution, you can place some of your stones against the moss so it stays in place while it takes grip of the rocks and bark below.

Step #5. Add in the Extras

This step is less about your moss and more about your snazzy new terrarium! “Extras” include other plants (root them in the soil you placed down in Step 2), and any other little decorations you want to add in to spice up the aesthetic of your garden.

Have kids? Make your terrarium a little world for old dolls or action figures to live in. Love crafts?

Add in colourful beads or small homemade signs. The possibilities are endless.

If you’re stuck for ways to express yourself through your moss garden, check out this article, 25 Adorable Miniature Terrarium Ideas for You to Try.

Step #6. Care For Your Moss

Back to your moss specifically, you will need to keep it out of direct sunlight. Moss dries up and turns brown very easily, so a spot that is met with indirect sunlight is the ideal location for your moss garden.

And because moss dries up so quickly, you will have to make sure to water it regularly.

Do not let your moss dry out. Fill your spray bottle with water, and spray until damp about two or three times a week.

Pro Tip: Collect rainwater to fill your spray bottle with! Read our article on the Best Rain Barrels for Smaller Homes to learn how.

Step #7. Watch it Grow

If you have left enough space in your container, and you have followed the above step in caring for your moss, in a few weeks you may start to see some spread.

Remember, depending on the type of moss you have chosen, you may see some “bushier” growth upward, or leaner growth outward.


Option B – Moss Growing Recipe: How to Grow Moss on Rocks, Concrete, and other Surfaces

In the mood for something a little… stranger? More badass?

However you see it, get ready for Option B: The Moss Milkshake.

Step #1. Mix Together Your Ingredients

In your blender, mix together equal parts water and buttermilk (or plain, unsweetened yoghurt), and a large handful of the moss of your choice.

Blend together until the consistency resembles a milkshake.

Step #2. Choose Your Surface

Your options here are pretty much endless. Want to see moss grow on the side of your house? Great!

How about on the stone steps leading to your garden? Perfect!

What about on the outside of a pot you want to grow other plants in? Genius!

So long as your surface is in a shaded area, you are good to go.

Step #3. Paint Away

Grab your paintbrush and dip it into your milkshake. Apply a layer of the shake onto the surface you wish to paint.

You can even get creative and paint a picture or message!

Step #4. Care For Your Moss and Watch it Grow

Use your spray bottle filled with water and moisten your moss mixture regularly.

If kept out of direct sunlight, you should start to see your moss growing in a few weeks’ time!

If you enjoyed this gardening tutorial, why don’t you check out some of our others? Take some time to learn How to Grow Microgreens and How to Grow Mint Indoors with us too!


And There You Have It…

Well, that was fun, wasn’t it! You should now have a beautiful little Zen garden all your own. Sit down, meditate and absorb the peace the way your spongy moss absorbs moisture – you did it!

We hope our tutorial cleared up any worries you had about growing your own moss, and that you’re left with the confidence to nurture your new little spore-babies.

It’s easy-peasy! Just don’t forget to mist mist mist! Watered moss is happy moss. And we hope your new moss makes you happy.

If this tutorial was helpful we’d appreciate if you could share it around.

And don’t forget to leave a comment about how your moss milkshake or terrarium turned out – we’d love to hear from you!

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