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Avatar for Arielle
Oct 17, 2021 10:50 PM CST
San Francisco, ca
I have this lovely moss wall and I've noticed some white spots growing and spreading and I'm unclear about wether it's good or bad. I'm assuming bad because it's looking like it's becoming bald and white at the sites. Any help to identify it/how to treat it would be appreciated!
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Oct 18, 2021 5:52 AM CST
Name: Sally
central Maryland (Zone 7b)
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Is it hard and crusty? Looks like lichen to me Confused
Plant it and they will come.
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Oct 18, 2021 8:20 AM CST
Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
Garden Photography The WITWIT Badge Seed Starter Wild Plant Hunter Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Lichens grow too slowly to notice them spreading. Are you sure that you just started see them now and they couldn't have been there a couple months (or more) ago? Sally has a good point: did you touch the white?
Is it
- powdery?
- stiff or crusty?
- soft?
- does it come off?
- does it rinse off?

Lichens will be pliable, but firm when they are moist, and stiff and crusty when they are dry. it looks like they are attached to the rock face and not the moss. If they are attached to a hard surface, I think it's lichens. If they are attached to mosses, then it is not.
When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the losers. - Socrates
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Oct 18, 2021 1:43 PM CST
Name: Big Bill
Livonia Michigan (Zone 6a)
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Just my two cents worth but I agree, lichens.

It is hard too see for the most part since the images are a little blurred at the critical juncture but I am pretty sure I see some leafy, spreading, lily pad like growth to this previously unknown stuff. It seems to be of a bright gray green color for the most part and I think Leftwood has it pegged as growing directly on the rock wall.
Orchid lecturer, teacher and judge. Retired Wildlife Biologist. Supervisor of a nature preserve up until I retired.
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Oct 18, 2021 2:21 PM CST
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
What is the wall made of and how long has it been covered in moss? Was this a natural moss wall or did you build it? Can you post a photo of the whole thing?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
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Oct 18, 2021 2:24 PM CST
Your local refrigerator (Zone 7a)
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That moss looks EXTREMELY dehydrated.
Maybe the moss got SO dry it peeled off and fell onto the ground.
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Oct 18, 2021 2:26 PM CST
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
I agree
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
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Oct 18, 2021 5:56 PM CST
Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
Garden Photography The WITWIT Badge Seed Starter Wild Plant Hunter Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
I think that's a very plausible explanation, Virginia.
When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the losers. - Socrates
Avatar for Gardener2493
Oct 18, 2021 6:01 PM CST

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Leftwood said:I think that's a very plausible explanation, Virginia.


Virginia is their location.
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Oct 18, 2021 7:25 PM CST
Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
Garden Photography The WITWIT Badge Seed Starter Wild Plant Hunter Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Oops! *Blush*
When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the losers. - Socrates
Avatar for Arielle
Oct 19, 2021 5:41 PM CST
San Francisco, ca
Leftwood said:Lichens grow too slowly to notice them spreading. Are you sure that you just started see them now and they couldn't have been there a couple months (or more) ago? Sally has a good point: did you touch the white?
Is it
- powdery?
- stiff or crusty?
- soft?
- does it come off?
- does it rinse off?

Lichens will be pliable, but firm when they are moist, and stiff and crusty when they are dry. it looks like they are attached to the rock face and not the moss. If they are attached to a hard surface, I think it's lichens. If they are attached to mosses, then it is not.



Firstly this was my first post and I am so happy by the amount of responses! I've been trying to find a good forum for all my questions about my gardening adventures and looks like I found the right group!

To answer the questions:

I've lived here for 6 yrs and ive been working on making this wall happen for the whole time. (The landlord had spent their childhood having to remove it lol)
It feels crusty/almost powdery in some spots.
I've always seen these white spots but it just looks like it's getting bigger and bigger and as I said the bald spots are a concern.
Also some spots the white looks like it's taking over the moss so that's a concern. Some areas are turning brown no matter what I do to fertilize and keep watered. I also live in a particularly foggy area so I'm sure the salty air has a bit to do with my browning problem.
Any tips you all have with the dying bits would be greatly appreciated.
Here are some more photos
Last edited by Arielle Oct 19, 2021 5:44 PM Icon for preview
Avatar for Arielle
Oct 19, 2021 5:45 PM CST
San Francisco, ca
Arielle said:


Firstly this was my first post and I am so happy by the amount of responses! I've been trying to find a good forum for all my questions about my gardening adventures and looks like I found the right group!

To answer the questions:

I've lived here for 6 yrs and ive been working on making this wall happen for the whole time. (The landlord had spent their childhood having to remove it lol)
It feels crusty/almost powdery in some spots.
I've always seen these white spots but it just looks like it's getting bigger and bigger and as I said the bald spots are a concern.
Also some spots the white looks like it's taking over the moss so that's a concern. Some areas are turning brown no matter what I do to fertilize and keep watered. I also live in a particularly foggy area so I'm sure the salty air has a bit to do with my browning problem.
Any tips you all have with the dying bits would be greatly appreciated.
Here are some more photos













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Avatar for Arielle
Oct 19, 2021 5:46 PM CST
San Francisco, ca
Arielle said:




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Oct 19, 2021 5:53 PM CST
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Wait! Back up... You are fertilizing? You may be killing it with love. The moss needs to stay damp so if its been dry in S.F. this summer, yes, water. What side of the hill are you on?

The last photo says a lot. Is it a masonry wall? Concrete? It looks like leaching salts - keep watering and wash it away. But don't fertilize, you are speeding up the salt buildup.

Love your garden!
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Last edited by DaisyI Oct 19, 2021 5:56 PM Icon for preview
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Oct 19, 2021 5:59 PM CST
Name: Sally
central Maryland (Zone 7b)
Let's all play ukulele
Charter ATP Member Frogs and Toads Houseplants Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Region: Maryland
Composter Native Plants and Wildflowers Organic Gardener Region: United States of America Cat Lover Birds
I agree, it looks not like lichen but more like minerals crystallizing..
Plant it and they will come.
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Oct 19, 2021 7:25 PM CST
Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
Garden Photography The WITWIT Badge Seed Starter Wild Plant Hunter Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
DaisyI said:Wait! Back up... You are fertilizing? You may be killing it with love. The moss needs to stay damp so if its been dry in S.F. this summer, yes, water. What side of the hill are you on?

The last photo says a lot. Is it a masonry wall? Concrete? It looks like leaching salts - keep watering and wash it away. But don't fertilize, you are speeding up the salt buildup.

Love your garden!


Daisy is exactly right. And you do have a wonderful garden!
When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the losers. - Socrates
Avatar for Arielle
Oct 19, 2021 7:54 PM CST
San Francisco, ca
DaisyI said:Wait! Back up... You are fertilizing? You may be killing it with love. The moss needs to stay damp so if its been dry in S.F. this summer, yes, water. What side of the hill are you on?

The last photo says a lot. Is it a masonry wall? Concrete? It looks like leaching salts - keep watering and wash it away. But don't fertilize, you are speeding up the salt buildup.

Love your garden!



Thank you! This is just the downstairs patio I will be sure to ask a lot more questions about the actual upstairs backyard garden as they come up. I'm not entirely sure of the mixture of the concrete part, some parts have broken off and that's where the moss seems to grow the most and it seems some parts (that are in tact) completely repel the growth no matter what I do. Also I have some bits that are just brown and so unhappy and I don't even know what to do for it. This is another side to it, see pics of what I mean below.
I fertilize with my go to maxsea which is kelp and more it's 14-16-14, about every 2 weeks… too much?

I also am attempting to grow moss outside of the wall in a container and then glueing it on… anyone ever tried that? How best does one grow moss? This is my 4th try and I'm using orchid moss as a base and then putting little pieces on top and keeping it fairly wet - again fertilized.

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Avatar for Arielle
Oct 19, 2021 8:00 PM CST
San Francisco, ca
Arielle said:



Also I'm in the Richmond district. And here's a photo of my current moss growing experiment the black container (and the old one is just dirt blueish silver)
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Oct 19, 2021 9:20 PM CST
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Ok, one more time... DON'T FERTILIZE! You are killing your moss. All it needs is water. The plant in photo 16 is Liverwort.

You should have lots of moisture in the air but maybe not enough? Has it been foggy this summer?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
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Oct 20, 2021 4:05 PM CST
Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
Garden Photography The WITWIT Badge Seed Starter Wild Plant Hunter Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
This is photo 16:
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When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the losers. - Socrates

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