Moss is one of the most underrated features of a bonsai tree. Although moss tends to be a nuisance, growing on rocks and patios, it’s extremely useful for bonsai! Growing moss on your bonsai has benefits both aesthetically and in terms of protecting the tree from potentially serious issues such as dehydration.
Why Grow Bonsai Moss?
There are a few reasons why you should be growing bonsai moss for your trees…
Protection – A nice layer of moss on the bonsai trees top soil can really help protect the tree/roots from a number of different things including birds, dehydration and cold snaps. The added layer will also increase the moisture retention of your soil, which is perfect for the summer months when the soil is prone to drying out from the sun.
Realistic Environments – Bonsai, the art of growing trees in miniature, is also about trying to recreate nature in a smaller form. Having moss growing on the top layer of soil can really help create a look of a larger tree as in nature you’re typically going to find either grass or moss around the base of the tree – which is recreated by using the moss. My favorite bonsai trees over the last few years have all had either a full covering of moss, or partial moss on other elements such as rocks. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having no moss on your soil but I do think it adds that bit of realism.
There are no real downsides to growing moss on your bonsai, which makes it even more appealing. Frankly it’s extremely cheap, extremely easy to grow and provides benefit to your tree. This also isn’t a permanent feature, if you change your mind 6 months after implementing a nice lichen, it’s not going to be hard to rectify the change.
Growing Bonsai Moss (Step By Step Guide)
There are two simple ways to grow your own moss for bonsai purposes, both of which are extremely easy.
Method 1 – Using Moss
If you don’t fancy buying spores, you can go hunting for some moss from various sunny spots where you can find moss growing. Once you have collected the moss, you need to dry it out over the next few days, preferably in the sunlight or even near a radiator if you are somewhere with weather like England!
Once you have dried out the moss, crumble it between your fingers until it becomes a dust like texture. Next, water your bonsai tree before sprinkling the moss dust over the top soil. To speed up the progress of the moss growing, you’ll want to keep spraying the moss with a fine mist around twice per day for a few weeks. I have produced a quick article about misting your bonsai and the problems it can cause
Method 2 – Using Spores (Keeping A Supply For Other Trees)
If you are looking to use bonsai moss over a longer period of time on multiple trees, cultivating your own might be an amazing idea as you will also have a supply to dip into. You’ll need to fill a pot with standard potting soil, even a bonsai pot will do – this is where your moss will be grown. At this point you’ll need to buy some moss spores, these are relatively cheap and you can pick up a bag of Fresh Sphagnum Moss on Amazon
for very cheap.
Once you have obtained the moss, you’ll need to complete the same process as if you had picked it yourself, drying it out and crumbling it up into a fine dust. Ensure the soil is extremely moist before layering on the moss dust, then watering and misting consistently over the coming 2-4 weeks. For further information on keeping your bonsai well watered, you can check out my watering guide here!
Collecting Bonsai Moss
Although growing your own moss is great, an alternative for most people is just to collect moss from elsewhere and transplant it on your bonsai – after all, no one’s going to be mad at you for taking their moss! There are a lot of different types of moss, some that will be perfect for a bonsai and some that won’t, but we will keep this as simple as possible.
You’ll need to go out looking for areas that are growing moss. For this I usually just go to my garden, however the street or rooftops will usually be a goldmine when it comes to collecting moss. It’s important to look for a patch where it is growing healthy but not too excessively as you don’t want a really aggressive moss that will start growing all over your bonsai.
Once you find a good section of healthy moss, take a large sample of it and pour some water over it, keeping it moist until it reaches your tree. Water the top soil of the bonsai, then place the moss on it – it’s that simple. For the best results, keep the moisture levels relatively high for the coming weeks and avoid too much sunlight as this can dry out the transplanted moss.
Bonsai moss is a great addition to any tree for a number of reasons. It can be used to create a more realistic texture, insulate the roots against the harsh environments and protects from insects! Even better, moss is extremely easy to transplant or cultivate yourself, meaning it’s a very easy thing to achieve. Definitely give it a go with one of your bonsai!
If this didn’t article still left you with questions, checkout this video below on growing your own bonsai moss!