Beginners Guide to Sphagnum Moss Care (and Propagation)

When you first discover sphagnum moss along your gardening journey, it really is one of those lightbulb moments that gets you wondering where have you been my whole life? Sphagnum moss can be applied to so many aspects of gardening, such as a growing medium, decoration for aesthetics in pots and even as a container to hold your soil in a kokedama.

Sphagnum Moss Care

We understand that after purchasing your first batch of sphagnum moss can be a mixture of emotions. There is definitely an element of excitement with the possibilities, but also a bit of intimidation. What do you do with the sphagnum moss you don’t use? How do you store it? Can it be reused? So many questions!

Fortunately for you, we’ve put together a beginners guide to sphagnum moss care. In this guide, we’ll cover the fundamental husbandry responsibilities for sphagnum moss care. We’ll also walk you through the steps of propagating sphagnum moss, so you can begin to create your own little moss farm.

So grab a coffee and get ready to become intimate with sphagnum moss.

Sphagnum Moss: The Facts

There are over 300 types of sphagnum moss species that grow around the world.

Sphagnum moss is commonly known for growing in its natural habitat at the surface of bogs and swamps. But commercial and domestic gardeners have recognized its unique properties, and harnessed its amazing water retention abilities for horticultural purposes.

And it is these horticultural sphagnum moss varieties that we are most interested in, and will be the focus of this article.

Sphagnum Moss Up close

How to Buy Sphagnum Moss?

Most of the sphagnum moss you have access to is likely to be harvested and imported from their natural wetlands in the Northern Hemisphere. In fact, in some countries, like Australia, harvesting sphagnum moss from the wild is illegal without a permit.

Accessing dry and treated sphagnum moss is quite easy, often available in packaged blocks from your local nursery or online in stores like Amazon. However, if you are looking to propagate a little sphagnum moss farm from the dead sphagnum moss, you won’t be successful. It is often heat treated to get rid of impurities, killing any seeds and the ability for it to reproduce.

If you are after the live sphagnum moss, you will have to find it from other sources like eBay and Etsy. There are plenty of private sellers that have their own cultures growing, and are more than willing to share it for a small price.

How to Store Wet Sphagnum Moss (not live sphagnum moss)

Wet Sphagnum Moss

Wet sphagnum moss should either be used within a few days, or dried out if not being used and put back into storage. If you store wet sphagnum moss for too long, it will usually attract mold and other bacteria, which will grow and make your sphagnum moss unusable.

To dry wet sphagnum moss, simple place it out in the sun for a few hours to a few days (depending on the temperature and amount of sunlight).

Once all the moisture has evaporated, store the dried moss in an airtight container, so it does not become contaminated.

Simply rehydrate the sphagnum moss with distilled water when you want to use it again.

Sphagnum Moss: Care Tips Guide

Okay, so you’ve decided to go down the path of caring and culturing your own sphagnum moss patch. Here are the husbandry responsibilities for creating a successful moss farm.


One of the keys to successfully cultivating a sphagnum moss farm is maintaining adequate moisture levels. Sphagnum moss needs plenty of water in a damp environment in order to flourish and grow. They are extremely sensitive to dry and are not at all drought tolerant.

Even the slightest dry spell period can set your sphagnum moss patch back, drying out and killing the tips at the top of your crops.


Lighting is also another important element that you will want to pay attention to. In order to grow profusely, sphagnum moss requires plenty of indirect light throughout the day. If you live in an area that has limited daylight hours, you may need to use a grow light to stimulate growth from your sphagnum moss.

It is important to note that even though sphagnum moss loves light, direct sunlight is not recommended. Direct midday or summer sunlight is too intense and will dry your sphagnum moss out quickly, again causing parts of it to die.

containers of sphagnum moss


The other element in your sphagnum moss growing conditions you will want to keep an eye on are your humidity levels. As we mentioned earlier in the water section, sphagnum moss loves a moist environment. Without water, it will dry up and die.

We suggest maintaining a medium level of humidity. If you live in a naturally dry climate, try keeping your sphagnum moss on a humidity tray or garden tray that has a water catchment section in the bottom.


When we talk about humidity, temperature also has a part to play. Generally speaking, it is harder to maintain high levels of humidity when the temperature drops. So, if you live in an area where the temperatures at night drop below zero, it is a good idea to bring your sphagnum moss farms indoors.

Once indoors, it will be easier to control the temperatures as well as the humidity levels.


Sphagnum moss will happily grow on any surface, as long as it has plenty of moisture and is provided the appropriate growing conditions (specified above). Given sphagnum moss is in itself a growing medium, it makes sense that it doesn’t require any other substrate to grow on. In fact, it will happily grow hydroponically in water, as long as it isn’t completely submerged.

How to Propagate Sphagnum Moss

Sphagnum moss propagation is easy. Some would say it is almost too easy, and they soon discover they have an overabundance of sphagnum moss.

The main responsibility you have is to maintain the appropriate conditions we discussed above, and the sphagnum moss will do the rest.

How Does Sphagnum Moss Propagate

As your sphagnum moss grows, new stems with foliage will begin to grow. Like other moss, the new growth will produce stems with spores at the tips. As they mature, the spores detach and continue to self-seed and begin growing as new offspring.

This process continues, until the sphagnum moss has created a dense carpet of moss to cover the container.

Sphagnum Moss Spores
Sphagnum Moss Spores

Steps for Propagating Sphagnum Moss

Here are some easy to follow steps to grow your own sphagnum moss:

  1. Source some live sphagnum moss. As discussed above, the dried treated sphagnum moss that comes dehydrated is not viable for propagation purposes.
  2. Lay the sphagnum moss in a shallow tray and fill with water until it touches the bottom of the moss.
  3. Ensure your sphagnum moss receives plenty of bright indirect light and maintain moisture levels by misting the sphagnum moss daily.

Frequently Asked Questions – Sphagnum Moss Care

Can you Reuse Sphagnum Moss?

You can reuse sphagnum moss when it hasn’t begun to decompose and breakdown. Using broken down sphagnum moss risks your soil producing anaerobic conditions, which will deprive the roots of your plants of oxygen. The best way to determine if your sphagnum moss is usable is to perform a visual inspection and see if any other forms of algae are growing, as well as the integrity of the moss itself (doesn’t appear brown and slimy).

Is Sphagnum moss alive?

Sphagnum moss is a live living plant that grows naturally in marshes, and wetlands, such as bogs. The sphagnum moss you buy when it is dry and molded into blocks is usually harvested from these wild bogs and treated with heat to dehydrate and clean it. When the sphagnum moss takes this form, it is no longer alive. It can be rehydrated, but not propagated back into a live plant.

How to Dry Sphagnum Moss?

To dry wet sphagnum moss, simple place it out in the sun for a few hours to a few days (depending on the temperature and amount of sunlight).

Once all the moisture has evaporated, store the dried moss in an airtight container, so it does not become contaminated.

Is Sphagnum Moss Good for Potted Plants?

Sphagnum moss is a wonderful and welcome addition to any potted plant. It can be used as a growing medium mixed into the potting soil for its super moisture retention properties. Or you can allow live sphagnum moss to grow as a soil topper or as a natural mulch. Plus, it gives the pots a natural appeal.