June 4, 2016
My dear friend, Charles, would like your advice on getting Spanish moss restarted in his yard. He got some from New Orleans. He enjoys your column so much.
Spanish moss is not Spanish or a moss, but an epiphytic flowering plant. Epiphytes live on a host plant but make their own food, unlike a parasite. It uses the trees it grows on as support, nothing else. The plant has no roots but takes its nutrients from rainfall and airborne dust. The slender, wiry, long-branching stems and leaves are covered with overlapping silver-gray scales, which help absorb water and trap dust and nutrient particles. The stems can grow over twenty feet in length. Spanish moss grows on trees in areas of high humidity and warm temperatures. It is winter hardy to about 22 degrees. Tell him to find a tree with some low hanging branches and drape the moss in it. It would have survived last winter, just fine, but would not have been as happy the prior two winters.
Can you tell me please, how to get rid of moss in my lawn? Thank you!
I actually like moss and try to encourage its growth, but if you don’t like it you first need to solve the reason you have it—either compacted soil, acidic soil, poor drainage and/or heavy shade. If you have all of the above, you can’t grow grass anyway, so embrace the moss! If you simply have an acidic soil, liming can help. Have your soil tested at your local county extension office and follow the lime recommendation. Aerate the soil if it is hard and compacted and solve any drainage issues. Copper sulfate is a product that will also temporarily kill the moss, but it can also damage your lawn if they are entwined.
In a recent article, you said you actually liked moss. Parts of my yard like moss also. Can you give me any advice on how to encourage more moss to grow and prosper since all other attempts at growing other cover has failed. Do you fertilize, feed or plug the stuff to have an attractive lawn of moss?
Moss grows best on compacted acidic soils. Take a soil sample to determine the pH of your soil. It actually grows best in low nutrition soils, so fertilization is not necessary. You can spread moss yourself by dividing what you have or creating a moss slurry in a blender with moss, beer and/or buttermilk, and a little dried clay similar to what is sold in craft stores for ceramics. Then pour on compacted sites. There is also a nursery that specializes in moss--Moss Acres. They not only sell sheets of moss but have come up with a "Moss milkshake" which you can buy. All you do is add water and shake then pour on a prepared site. I saw it last year at a trade show and have been dying to try it myself. For more information visit their website at: http://www.mossacres.com/default.asp .
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