The Q&A Archives: How To Make Irish Or Scotch Moss Hump (not What You're Thinking!)

Question: I have seen scotch moss (sagina subulata?) also described in one photograph as sandwort deliberately grown in humps. Almost looks like grass covered tennis balls or oranges on a hill side or under a tree. My garden books tell me how to un-hump overgrown mats of scotch or irish moss, no one seems to know how to get it to do this on purpose! help!

Answer: I think the term "mound" is more descriptive....
Anyway, overcrowding is the secret. Scotch moss is a natural creeper and as it creeps, it develops roots wherever the stems touch the ground. You can stop it from developing roots as it spreads by eliminating its ability to touch the ground. So, if you provide a small patch of soil for the original plant, then use a barrier (stepping stones, weed barrier, etc.) around the plant, it will continue to grow, but won't be able to spread via stems. It will naturally mound up, rather than spread out. You can accomplish the same thing by planting the Scotch moss in terra cotta pots and burying the pots in the soil, leaving about 2" of rim above the soil level. The pot will contain the plant, and finding no flat surface on which to creep, the stems will knot themselves together. A final way to accomplish the mounding effect is to prune each plant regularly, cutting off any errant stems. The new growth will be concentrated beneath the old growth and will push the old stems up into a mounded form. Good luck with your Scotch moss project!

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