Terrarium Moss Care

Moss is easy to care for under the right conditions, and will even put out rewarding new growth! Here are some instructions and tips to help your moss flourish!

Terrarium set up:

There are many different options for a terrarium, and some mosses like different things! We recommend a terrarium with the option to be covered, as in dry winter months this can help reduce the loss of moisture. New growth is susceptible to drying out, so try to keep humidity no lower than 60% in your terrarium. Many pet shops sell hygrometers with probes to help monitor humidity if you are unsure.

Although moss needs humidity, it also needs a bit of airflow to do well and be healthy. Not enough can cause fungus to grow (white, webby, almost like spider webs), and damage your moss. To do this, simply remove the lid of the terrarium and wave your hand over it to fan out the old air and help circulate new air in. This can be done once to twice a week. It’s best when done right before a misting. Lichens like a bit more airflow and can tolerate occasional lower humidity levels. 

In your terrarium, we recommend having a layer of drainage (LD substrate, LECA, or gravel all work well) about 2” deep. In a narrower terrarium, it helps if this layer is deeper, and if it’s a wider terrarium, it can be shallower. You may also use a substrate barrier such as fiberglass screen or landscaping fabric. Although the barrier is helpful, it isn’t always necessary, especially if your drainage material is finer in particle size. Now on top of that, add some soil! This level does not have to be deep enough for roots, as mosses don’t have any. ABG terrarium mix works very well, as it resists anaerobic decay. For nearly all mosses, peat is a great substrate. It holds moisture and also helps to acidify the soil. On top of the soil, you can use some long fiber sphagnum moss to help maintain humidity. This is especially helpful for open top terrariums.

Carefully remove the moss, and mist it lightly with distilled, spring, or reverse osmosis water. Moss does not have any roots, so it’s okay if there are stalks or pieces that are not attached together (each one of these has the potential to grow, so don’t throw them out!). Place each on top of the substrate, and water again lightly. A spray bottle works best to spray the terrarium until the substrate and mosses are saturated. 

Lighting:

Indoors, the more light the better! Place in a sunny (but not too hot) windowsill, or provide additional lighting. Not all color light bulbs are equal! The best color temperature is 6500K, which most aquarium light bulbs provide. However, 5000k is a good option, and bulbs with that color output can be found at home supply or home improvement stores. They are typically marketed as “Daylight” (as opposed to “soft white” or “bright white”). LED light sources produce the most light and are the most energy efficient.

 

Water:

It’s important to only use reverse osmosis, distilled, or spring water. Tap water can have salts and minerals added to it, which can slowly kill the moss and build up in the terrarium. Moss thrives at lower pHs (more acidic), and it does best around pH 5.5. Usually peat, leaf litter, or sphagnum moss can be mixed into the soil to keep the soil pH optimal for the moss.

 

Some other notes: 

- Make sure not to use any soils with added fertilizers, as these can burn the moss.

- Not all moss is green! Some are red, orange, yellow, golden, or brown. If it’s not green, it doesn’t mean it’s dead! New growth on these species may be green or yellow. Look for new tips forming.

- In winter months, your moss may arrive frozen. This is not an issue, but make sure to thaw it gently in the refrigerator so as not to shock it.

- If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us!