Ask a Question forum: Spanish and Ball Moss

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bigdad
Jan 19, 2015 2:13 PM CST
I have both growing on My Oaks and Bald cypress. An anti fungal I tried has had no effect. What can I kill it with?
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
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drdawg
Jan 19, 2015 2:22 PM CST
Humm, these are plants. They are both Tillansia (air-plants). I would guess the only way to kill it would also damage your trees. You might be able to safely spay it all with a powerful herbicide in the winter, when the trees are dormant, but you really need to contact your Extension Service and get some professonal advice. I grow the Spanish moss on purpose, and actually nourish it throughout the year. We don't have it growing "naturally" here in NE Mississippi. I love it to drape some of my mounted tropical plants with.

Where are you located? You need to consider at least adding this information so we all know when responding to you.

Welcome! to ATP
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
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Xeramtheum
Jan 19, 2015 2:22 PM CST
Welcome to ATP bigdad!

I found this article that pretty much says what all the articles I've seen about eradicating Spanish/Ball Mosses. Hope this helps!

http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/foliage/spanish-m...
"We were all humans until race disconnected us, religion separated us, politics divided us and wealth classified us."

Unknown

Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Jan 19, 2015 2:30 PM CST
Keep in mind, that dead Spanish moss leaves a thin, black, wiry fiber that will break down very, very slowly. Removing what you can by hand before spraying will result in less of those clumps of fibers. Otherwise, simply because of esthetic reasons, you may have to remove all that dead, stringy stuff by hand.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
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porkpal
Jan 19, 2015 5:44 PM CST
Why do you want to kill it? It won't harm your tree and as Ken said, it is a lot better looking alive than dead.
Porkpal
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Jan 19, 2015 5:49 PM CST
I agree Thumbs up
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Jan 19, 2015 6:42 PM CST
That's right, it does not harm the trees as some people think. People say "the tree is declining because of the moss growth", when actually the opposite is true. A heavy growth of either ball moss or Spanish moss an indicator that your tree is unhealthy. The moss grows more as the leaf canopy thins out.

I know a couple of people who reduced their moss growth in live oaks by spraying the tree with soluble fertilizer. Something like Miracle Gro, in a pump sprayer or hose end applicator wouldn't hurt. Evidently it's good for the tree and bad for the moss, but I'm not sure of that. In any case, anything that encourages healthy leaf growth on your tree will reduce moss growth.

Only one of my live oaks has some Spanish moss, and it's the one beside our driveway. I always figure it's protesting the fact that I drive my car back and forth across its roots, but . . . the driveway's been there for a lot of years so it should have adapted by now. A huge clump of moss is sitting on the driveway as I write this. Ball moss? Well that grows on anything that stands still, there are clumps on the power lines and I had a couple of clumps growing on the screening of my pool cage last summer.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Jan 19, 2015 8:09 PM CST
Elaine, you know I fertilize my moss (and the rest of my Tillandsia) when my orchids get sprayed. I WANT Spanish moss and seeded my trees with it four years ago after a local Master Gardener told me that it was impossible to grow it here. I still remind him of his "mistake". Whistling

The ONLY time that Spanish moss can become a problem is when it is exceptionally thick, and blocks sufficient sun from leaves. Branches, but certainly not the tree, could die back.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Jan 19, 2015 8:30 PM CST
Yes, but that's a light spray of pretty weak fertilizer, right? My two friends drenched the mosses with full-strength Miracle Gro (I think) and it fed the tree but burned the moss.

Probably need to do this when there's no chance of rain diluting the fertilizer, as well. Hot, dry weather would be perfect.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Jan 19, 2015 9:04 PM CST
DON'T KILL THE SPANISH MOSS. IT DIDN'T DO ANYTHING WRONG!

You know, there have been some good comments and questions here, but where is bigdad? He's the one with the problem and we haven't heard a peep out of him. We don't even know where he lives but my guess is S. LA.

Yes, Elaine, you know "Weakly-weekly".
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Jan 19, 2015 9:31 PM CST
I know, Ken I know! I like Spanish moss myself, but some people just don't like the look of it. If he wants to kill his mosses, we should help him, I think.

The original poster, bigdad, started this thread after 3pm this afternoon, so I'm sure he'll be back. On this forum, every reply will notify him.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Jan 20, 2015 7:10 AM CST
Naturally, Elaine, it is his choice. My first post in reply told him what I would do to get rid of it.

Different strokes for different, folks, huh? Thumbs up
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
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RickCorey
Jan 21, 2015 12:35 PM CST
Hi Bigdad! I bet you're getting more answers than you expected, even if they are not very encouraging answers.

The idea that "it will just grow back" seems very depressing. At least it isn;'t killing the trees its on!

Perhaps you can find something that the Spanish moss needs and you can deprive it of, or see that it gets less of what it needs.

It gets both water and minerals from the air, not the tree.

If your region is only marginally wet enough for it, maybe increased air circulation would discourage it by letting it dry out.

I don't know whether it would like more light, or more shade, but pruning might let in more light.

Collecting minerals from air-borne dust and leaf fragments seems like a chancy way to survive. Maybe (purely guessing here) when you pull off as much of the "moss" by hand as you can, spraying the rest with pressurized water would remove its source of minerals.

Dr Dawg has to fertilize his to encourage it ... maybe you can starve yours to discourage it.

Edited to add:

I'll go from "guesses" to a "dumb guess". Do you have any enterprising scavengers like squirrels or other tree rats? MAYBE spraying a little diluted molasses on the moss would encourage squirrels to eat the darn stuff. (As long as they don't chew the bark under it.)

Too bad chickens and goats don't climb trees.

[Last edited by RickCorey - Jan 21, 2015 12:39 PM (+)]
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bigdad
Jan 21, 2015 1:02 PM CST
Thanks to all for the info. We live in Florida and had a great view of yesterdays Titan 5 Heavy's lift off from "The Cape". Spectacular. My wife and I are seven years into Florida retirement coming here from Central New York. We both think the hanging Spanish Moss is Creepy and only belongs in Cemeteries. I'm the one that doesn't like the Ball Moss. It seems to be completely taking over my smaller Bald Cypress. If indeed it actually is an indicator that the tree is unhealthy, perhaps curing that is the direction I need to take. Don't want to lose the tree. Started it from seed myself 6 years ago. Again, thanks for all your assistance. Bigdad
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Jan 21, 2015 1:25 PM CST
Rick, I may be the only grower on earth that fertilizes his Spanish moss. Sticking tongue out It certainly seems to encourage growth and all my Spanish moss blooms in the spring (though few people believe me when I say that - picture below). But then, I actually make use of my moss. I drape it strategically in my oak/cedar trees to shade my orchids and drape a lot of my mounted plants with it (pictures below). One of my Vanda has made use of the Spanish moss and has huge roots growing in it (picture below). There is no obvious damage done to the oak/cedar trees by all my moss.


Thumb of 2015-01-21/drdawg/de9079


Thumb of 2015-01-21/drdawg/ba174b Thumb of 2015-01-21/drdawg/daca9f Thumb of 2015-01-21/drdawg/acd505


Thumb of 2015-01-21/drdawg/6fc6b3 Thumb of 2015-01-21/drdawg/9c05fb

drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Jan 21, 2015 1:34 PM CST
Again, welcome, bigdad. You and your wife have read too much Edgar Allen Poe! Whistling There are very few cemeteries I have ever been to that has stands of oak and or cypress with hanging Spanish moss. The theory that Spanish moss is somehow ONLY found or generally found on weak, diseased trees is in error. It grows on perfectly healthy trees. I think what was meant was that when someone sees a disease/dying tree, and that there is Spanish moss on that tree, that person might blame the moss for the declining tree.

IF you simply don't like the moss, hey, there's nothing wrong with that. Get rid of it manually (if you can reach it all) or contact your local Extension Service and they will be able to put you in contact with someone that can rid you of the moss. Thumbs up
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
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plantladylin
Jan 21, 2015 2:07 PM CST
Ball Moss (Tillandsia recurvata) and Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides) are both very common sights here in the south. I have a small Pond Cypress in my backyard that is covered with Ball Moss which is not parasitic and doesn't cause harm to the tree. That being said, If moss does heavily take over a tree it can compete with the tree for light and nutrients restricting branch formation but otherwise causes no harm. I agree that some folks love it and find it aesthetically appealing while others just do not like the looks at all. I'm one of those who loves the look of Spanish moss draping from the live oak trees and I find the ball moss interesting and pretty in it's own way as well.
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Jan 21, 2015 3:27 PM CST
I agree I loved the Spanish moss on the extremely old, stately, Live Oaks on the Mississippi Gulf coast, When I moved up to NE Mississippi I missed that moss and thus began to grow it. Hurricane Katrina wiped out thousands of those Live Oaks, and well as tens of thousands of acres of other trees. Drive down the beach highway and you won't see many trees and practically no Spanish moss. Crying
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
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plantladylin
Jan 21, 2015 6:00 PM CST
Mother nature sure can be cruel ... and major storms certainly do alter the landscape.

I remember in the early 1970's we were driving on Interstate 10 along the gulf coast heading from Florida to California. It was almost six months after Hurricane Camille had come ashore along the gulf coast of Mississippi. Like a few hurricanes years later, Camille sure wreaked havoc when she hit. Parts of the Interstate were gone along with bridges and so many homes and businesses. Where houses and businesses once stood, only cement foundations were left and in some places only makeshift cardboard signs tacked onto a piece of wood, stuck in the ground with the (former) address scrawled on the cardboard! One vivid memory I have is of a huge ocean liner/ship laying on it's side .... about 2 city blocks from the ocean! We saw one cement slab with a single gas pump; it looked like it was sitting in a desert with nothing around it for miles. The entire area was like a barren land with debris everywhere with no intact buildings to be seen. I remember part of a building on the beach that looked like it had been bombed but that's exactly what the entire area reminded me of. We'd be driving along and suddenly the road would end, with huge chunks of cement sticking up in the air and detours taking us along roads with even more devastation. My husband and I were so stunned by what we were seeing that neither of us could speak and I will never forget those images as long as I live; same for the images after Andrew in the summer of 1992 and of course Katrina in the summer of 2005.
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Jan 21, 2015 6:51 PM CST
Lin, I was actually in dental school in New Orleans. Until hours before Camille hit, New Orleans was in her cross-hairs. The entire city and all the lower parishes were evacuated, but I stayed put. Just before Camille was due to come ashore she swerved to the east only 50 or so miles, and Pass Christian Mississippi was where she came ashore. My wife and I had family in Jackson, MS and the following day after Camille hit, we hopped into our tiny VW and headed east into Mississippi. Soon after we crossed the border of Mississippi, we had to head north because the highway was washed out. At that time, the largest producer of tung oil in the world was in southern Mississippi. We were 50 miles north of the coast and saw that the thousands of acres of tung oil trees were totally gone. I don't think a single tung oil tree was ever re-planted. Tung oil is still used in all the high-end paint/varnish finishes. I don't know where the tung oil comes from. Probably China! Sticking tongue out

Camille was the most powerful hurricane to ever hit the US, and its winds were a sustained 200+ mph. That's equivalent to an F5 tornado. No one, neither the Air Force (there is an AF base less than 50 miles from Pass Christian) nor NOAA nor any state weather station knows what the top wind of Camille was. Their wind velocity instruments were built to register up to 200 mph, and all those wind-stations were blown away. IF it had hit New Orleans (remember, Katrina was centered on the Mississippi Gulf coast, not New Orleans), experts estimated that New Orleans would have been under 30'-50' of water, the entire city. Thumbs down I was lucky.

I know a lot about hurricanes. I have been through, literally through five of them. I never evacuated. I could write a novel about my experiences in hurricanes and in storms out in the Gulf. I guess God had a use for me to stay around a bit longer. Whistling

The after-math of Camille and Katrina were almost exactly the same. Katrina was a much, much larger hurricane but also a much, much weaker one. Her winds were only 140 mph. Thus the damage from Katrina was much more widespread, covering a much larger area. But the Mississippi coast line looked the same.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.

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