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Growing Moss?

LSNock - CO
January 11, 1970

I have recently bought a house with a moss-rock fireplace that had been neglected for many years? Does anyone have any ideas on how to rejuvenate and promote the growth of moss on this fireplace? I would be interested in any ideas anyone may have!

Comments (41)

  • Bill - 4

    I have turned hanging moss baskets green by spraying with buttermilk and keeping moist . Its kind of a pain but it works . I dont know how long it lasted because I sold the baskets. Since this is the alpine and rock garden forum I can not resist it ROCK ON

  • Sherba Nelson

    I've also read that you can mix moss with yogurt in a blender and brush it on to create a quick growth of moss, but haven't tried it personally!

  • Lianne - NJ-Z??

    If I'm remembering correctly, according to Martha, you soak a clay pot to get it thoroughly moist, apply plain yogurt using a paint brush, take a piece of the moss of your choice and rub it on the pot making sure to get the spore dirt on the pot...after that I'm not sure, I think you put it in a cool place and keep it damp? I guess putting moss and yogurt in a blender would work the same...just be sure to clean it real well LOL! =o)

  • Monte - NJ

    the HGTV show Grow It just did a piece on creating moss covered objects. This is the recipe they suggest using.

    Recipe for "moss juice"

    - 5-lb. block of potter's clay
    - jar of fish emulsion fertilizer
    - moss

    Cut potter's clay into cubes and soak in water until it becomes 'slip,' or liquid clay.
    Combine 3 parts clay solution, 1 part liquid fish emulsion, and 1 part moss in a blender.
    Paint over all cement objects where a moss-covered surface is desired.
    To clean the blender, fill a sink with hot water and detergent. Let the blender soak for two hours, then run it through the dishwasher.

    Keep painted concrete pieces in a cool, dark place. Within two months to a year, moss will grow on the objects.

  • Bob - 4/5

    I have a concretre patio on which moss has started to grow.I would like to encourage the moss to spread over the entire patio which is shaded most of the day. Any ideas?


    To get moss to grow on troughs and other places I want it to, I have used buttermilk, plain Dannon yogurt or manure tea to wet the object. Then I put on the right kind of moss to seed it. (moss off cement on cement, moss off wood on wood, etc.) I don't really know if that matters or not but it made sense to me and seems to work. I then keep it in a shady spot and mist it until it is working. If the object I'm working with doesn't have the kind off sides that allows the bigger pieces of moss to set on it I will mix tiny pieces into the base of milk (or whichever base I'm using) and smear it where I want the moss to grow. It works but it takes time.

  • Sheila Novak

    How long does it take for the moss to grow (spread)? Can you also put the moss mixture on the dirt of plants (bonsai's) and have it grow? What if you don't use enough moss when you mix it and too much buttermilk, would it still work? I have an artificial light on my bonsai's, if I covered the dirt (where the moss mixture is on) with a napkin for instance, would it still grow?

  • Kevin - SI, NY zone 7

    Moss grows pretty quickly across the top of my bonsai soil. I add a very thin layer of topsoil on top of my bonsai soil and plant the moss on the topsoil. IMHO moss mostly needs 2 things, moisture and no chemical fertilizer.
    I wouldn't put the moss on napkin onto the bonsai soil as I feel the napkin would either block water penetration to the tree's roots, and/or the napkin would keep the moisture near the very top of the soil and prevent the tree roots from filling the pot. Hope this helps a little.
    PS - what kind of trees do you have?

  • jo daniel

    i have wanted to grow moss for such a long time.i had no
    idea getting started would be so easy.im anxious to get
    out my buttermilk and yogurt.can i wipe on with a paint

  • frandy 5

    what exactly is the recipe for growing moss - with buttermilk, or yogurt - what is the ratio? How fast will it grow? Help - there's a wedding in 3 weeks - any chance to have it between all the patio stones by then??????

  • glenda

    I went to the woods and gathered moss, cut it in stips and put between the cobble stones in a new zen garden that I am creating. The base between and under the cobble stones is sand. Will the moss grow there...I didn't want to add any soil between the stones, as I don't want it to leach out amongst the other stones in the area. These are old cobble stones so should not cause a problem. Should I remove the moss and pour a milk/yogurt mixture between the cracks before replacing the moss, or just spray over the top a mixture of milk/yogurt? Thanks:-)

  • vjhale

    apparently everyone but you

  • Rand Simpson 1b

    Check out this site for a "moss mousse" recipe.

  • chris

    I have just installed a moss rock retaining wall someone has told me the moss will die due to high chlorine in our water supply. Any ideas?

  • Claire_

    Moss with one or two exceptions, grows on acid, infertile soil. If moss is growing somewhere on your property, it will probably move to a place that you want without too much troble. If you bring it from another area you may not have success. Moss growing requires a bit of research. You do not need milk products to grow moss. Moss grows on everything in my garden that doesn't move. It is the result of proper environment. cp

  • erasmus_gw

    I got a great book called Moss Gardening by George Schenk at the library. He's very knowledgable and funny, with practical advice on propagating moss. There's a section on growing it on Bonsai soil too, and many beautiful photographs. Most of his methods do not use yoghurt or buttermilk but he mixes moss fragments with mud,leaf mold, and manure in a blender. He says birds like moss gardens as they use it to line their nests.

  • Rosa

    You all are going to have to really excuse my ignorance, but the moss rock that I buy here in Colorado and what I have seen for fireplaces (in peoples homes) is not moss covered rock but lichen covered rock. What am I missing here?

  • Rosa

    I found some information concerning you "moss rock" fireplace.

    You fireplace rock is indeed covered with lichens-not moss.
    Please DO NOT attempt to make them grow and DO NOT use any of the above formulas. You will end up killing your beautiful lichens and ruining your fireplace walls.

    This info comes from: "A Rocky Mountain Lichen Primer" by Corbridge & Weber, University Press of Colorado, 1998. Dr. Corbridge is a Law professor at University of Colorado and an amature lichenologist. Dr William "Bill" Weber is Professor Emeritus(Botany), was curator of University of Colorado's Herbarium, and author of numerous "Colorado Flora" books, among others.

    "Gardeners and homeowners should be informed that these lichens can be killed by care. They do no require any watering, they grow very slowly (few people will be able to live long enough to see any growth), and they are sensitive to pollution of many kinds. In the home, lichens on the fireplace, if watered, may be quickly destroyed by the molds that are prevalent in the air of the rooms. When they accumulate dirt, they are difficult to clean. Some crusts may be cleaned by wadding up white bread and using this as a "wallpaper cleaner". Foliose and fruticose lichens are extremely fragile, perhaps a soft airbrushing might help. Do not attempt to make them grow, despite what you may be told by ignorant dealers.....If you have lichens, don't water them."
    He goes on to say that a New York Times garden editor once suggested that a spreading a coat of peanut butter over the lichens would help them turn green. It produced nothing but a thick coating of green mold. He has seen expensive rock walls in malls destroyed from scrubbing them with a wet mop. He maintains that "Even normal watering in the garden will eventually kill them".

    Hope this helps you.

  • toomuddy

    does anyone know the ratio of MOSS/YOGURT/BUTTERMILK TO USE IN GROWING MOSS on pots, etc??? btw, an easy way to keep the item moist while moss grows on it, assuming it's a movable, fair sized object, is to place it in a container of water and let the water soak into the item constantly.

  • tyshee

    Get a reindeer or a caribou and it will eat the lichen and it will be gone. Moss grows in acidic soil that is damp and doesn't receive lots of sun. It spreads rapidly and kills lawns if you don't use lots of lime. Fertilizer isn't the problem but damp and acid is. Most of us want to kill any moss that gets on our roofs or lawns. Moss is a great insulator so that is why they used it on roof tops. If it gets on logs in a cabin they can start rotting because of the moisture retention. Have fun with the moss and I can send you some if you really want it. No one wants it where I live.

  • treetitan

    I know this message is a year past the last post...
    However, I do know that there is such a thing as a "moss-rock"
    I happen to work for a water garden and stone yard supply and we carry a stone that has good ol' fashioned moss growing right on it...in addition to the moss there are also many that have lichen growing upon them as well...
    The stone comes in flagstone as well as chunks and boulders all of various sizes...They are a brownish-grey, grooves, nooks and crannies are not uncommon
    Several colors of lichen is common and green moss that tends to be stringy, as opposed to short and uniform like club moss or the kinds that you find growing on trees...
    However I have seen different types of moss growing on these stones as well...We move quite a bit of this stone and use it when we build watergardens for our clients. I have seen hundreds of tons of this stone, and it is a great material for building walls, watergardens, stone tables and benches...etc...

  • haziemoon

    My dad always used beer in a spray bottle on our fireplace,
    and it was full of moss and beautiful. My neighbor told me to do the same thing. I just built a moss rock BBQ pit, and plan to use the old beer in a spray bottle.

  • industrialteacher


    if you still follow this thread here are some versions of the recipes you have been trying to find. I personally have been meaning to give them a try but you know how that goes...,

    I can't remember where I got these.. so my apologies to the author(s)

    "How to Grow Moss for Your Garden"
    Author Unknown

    Adding moss to a garden is a beautiful way to enhance its appearance, and with this easy and inexpensive recipe, you'll enjoy growing moss as well.

    1. Put a handful of the moss you want to grow into a blender.

    1. Add 1/2 tsp. sugar and one can of beer (the cheapest brand). You can substitute buttermilk for beer if you want.
    2. Blend just long enough to mix the ingredients and break down the moss.
    3. Spread the soupy mixture with a spatula over the ground or rocks where you want the moss to grow.

      Remove as much dirt from the moss as you can before you start.

      Moss grows best in shady areas.

    This will require a shaded & fairly moist spot that is not going to get washed by rain or sprinklers...
    In a blender, combine 1 quart of buttermilk, 1 Tbsp. corn syrup, 1 cup beer of choice & 2 cups finely chopped , freshly harvested moss w/ developed spores or use 2 to 3 packages of Moss Spores A hand-full of brown fallen evergreen needles will help but is not required. Blend the mixture until it's smooth; adding more beer if you desire a thinner mix or more fresh moss for a thicker paste. Simply paint or pour the slurry onto the surface of whatever you want mossed and keep it moist. Do not use this mixture on bonsai... You will have to grow it separately on a page of newsprint dusted with a thin layer of peat and transplant it onto your bonsai when it is fully grown.
    Keep in mind, many mosses are not fast growers and may need 1 or 2 seasons to impress you depending on moisture levels, shade requirements and soil composition. Your ideal soil Ph should be near 5.5 ( too sour for most grasses ). Use sulfur, aluminum sulfate or ferrous sulfate to sour the soil in a shade garden. We've experienced good results using various quantities of the ingredients in this recipe and by being religious about the growing conditions that most mosses enjoy...moist shade.


  • carlseemn

    I transplanted various moss that was growing on trees and rocks into a container with soil and woodchips as the substrate. I did not utiize buttermilk, mayo etc. It grew well and was green until fall . It is indoors with filtered morning light. It now seems sort of dormant and has lost color ,yet it is still spongy to touch . Is there a way to revitalize this or is it toast

  • shrubs_n_bulbs

    I'm amazed! All those replies and nobody (except Rosa) seems to have understood or answered the original question.

    Moss rock fireplaces do not have moss on them. If they did at some point have moss on them, there is absolutely no way you could keep it alive anywhere indoors let alone on stones around a fireplace. Do not paint anything on rocks around your fireplace.

    As Rosa pointed out, but everyone ignored, these moss rocks are named for their lichen growths which provide coloured patches on the rocks. I don't honestly know if these remain alive indoors on the fire surround but they are probably waiting in limbo for suitable conditions to grow again. If they are alive then you could splash a little water on them, but don't keep them wet for too long, and they might freshen up. If they are dead then you are stuck.

    Anyone who wishes to grow moss on anything should ideally move to Britain or possibly the Pacific side of the Cascades. Failing that, check out The Moss Forum.

  • artsiecl

    I appreciate the love of moss, it is beautiful and I am learning lots here......please do not come here and leave ugly comments........ most of us here love moss as well as other parts of God's beautiful creation and everything has it's place.....

  • Jason

    I live in Washington state, I have tons of moss growing everywhere! I just rip it out by the handful and place it wherever I want, if it's in a dry area I'll aim the hose in it's direction for a few seconds every once in awhile. Keeping it out of the places where I don't want it is the hard part. Looks great on top of the rocks by my waterfall though!

  • theterrestrialman

    Justin, that is great!! Moss is like a weed in your area!!! But do you have the same species all over or are there several species?? It would be interesting to see what kinds of mosses are growing for you. Photos??

  • Jason
    Here's a few pictures of some of the moss growing in my yard. I'm pretty sure most of it is the same stuff.
  • theterrestrialman

    Possibly up to at least 4 different species. Cannot recall the name of

    the upper left one but it is fairly common. The upper right one is a

    species of Polystichum, perhaps P. commune. The lower two are

    images of colonies made up of 2 or more species. The lower right

    photo appears to show that the tiny low growing species has provided

    a substrate for the larger species to take root in.

  • Jason

    Well thanks for the information. Guess that goes to show how little I know about moss!

  • theterrestrialman

    The only I know anything about mosses is that I was lucky to be able to take a course in Bryology when I went to college.

    If you are into mosses here is a link to a pdf journal on mosses and lichens in a national

    forest in western Oregon. Umatilla National Forest common lichens and bryophytes

    The most important thing is to note the keys and the terms being used. That is the real hurdle to learning about mosses. Missouri Botanical Garden Bryological dictionary

    And a nice college website with images of species that may occur in your area.

    University of British Columbia Bryophytes images

    Hope this will encourage your interest in these great little plants!

  • cooperdr_gw

    I'd think that distilled water misted on it might help some. You could try some plant food but just in a small spot first. Or rainwater might work with a mister. Definently moisture to rejuvenate it but not too much either unless there's a draft.

  • becky mercier

    i have lava rocks i would like to grow moss on. the problem? they get a lot of sun, any hope of this working for me?

  • theterrestrialman

    unless you live in a tropical setting where it rains every few hours then YEAH not worth the hassle of what you would need to do to keep moss alive in such an unhappy place for the little plants.

  • HU-434913

    in how many days will i see it growing if i use the buttermilk method?

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    You can expect to see the development of a mossy growth in 2-3 weeks, provided other growing conditions for moss are good. But the condiitons have be appropriate for moss growth anyway - shade, moisture, cool temperatures.......

    There are a number of inaccuracies in some of the previously posted information. For one, Polystichum is the botanical name for a genus of ferns, not a moss. Just saying..........:-)

  • theterrestrialman

    Oh yeah always had problems between Polystichum and Polytrichum!

  • HU-434913

    what is the ideal temperature for growing moss, i mean for propagating?

  • pete_powell Columbus, O-H!

    You can also do nothing for decades and get lucky. Helps if the the land is moist.

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