The Q&A Archives: Starting Moss

Question: I would like to know how to get moss started on some new concrete items (planters, lions and pedastals) that are in shady areas. Someone suggested buttermilk? Jerry Kettman Chicago, IL

Answer: Moss is great, and I'm glad you want to grow some! But is it moss or lichen you want to encourage to grow, or both? Moss requires some kind of moist, organic material (acidic, woodsy soil or a rotting log) in order to get established. Mosses do enjoy buttermilk (8 parts water to one part water), probably because it acidifies the environment and is rich in nutrients. Lichens, on the other hand, cling to barren rock and cement, their natural niche. I don't know of any catalog that sells mosses. I would contact the botany department at the University and see if they can direct you to a source, either wild or via a laboratory supply house. If you choose to find some in the woods, take just a small amount. It spreads readily if given the correct conditions. The botany department should also be able to give you specific instructions for creating a lichen-friendly environment. If you wait long enough, it's bound to grow on its own!

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