Introduction: Moss Terrarium

About: Learn more about me here: or follow me on Twitter (@shesparticular) (if you're into that sort of thing).
There are reportedly 12,000 species of moss, all classified as bryophytes (non-vascular plants). Unlike "higher plants" mosses do not have internal water-bearing vessels, and do not bear flowers, cones, or seeds. They tend to be small and absorb water and sunlight through their leaves, but do not absorb water or nutrients through their roots. Some folks (like me) find mosses (and fungi and other plants) to be pretty awesome and like to have them around. With a little hunting, you can capture some lovely moss and give it a new home.

You'll Need. . .
  • A bottle - something glass which has a wide base and narrow neck is suggested - I've used this particular flask (which I think is quite lovely) previously but went with a more traditional shape this time
  • A stopper or cap with a small hole in the top - I used a rubber stopper with a hole through it's center
  • Some soil (amount will depend on your bottle)
  • A small disposable container with a lid or plastic bag
  • Spoon (a knife can also be helpful)
  • Long tweezers or a skewer of some sort - I used these alligator forceps
  • Spray bottle with water (distilled is best)
  • Funnel (optional but suggested)
  • Rocks or sticks, etc. (if desired, I went with some dinosaurs!)
Note: There are other methods of cultivating moss (which involve combining 2 cups of buttermilk or plain yogurt and about 1 1/2 cups of chopped up moss in a blender, and then pouring or painting the mixture on soil or rocks), but personally I prefer this simpler method since the blender method takes weeks to see any results (and I don't want to put moss in my blender).

How To
  1. The first step to bringing moss home with you is to locate some in the wild. I was able to track some down in the cracks of the sidewalk, but on trees and rocks in wooded areas is also an awesome place to look. The real trick to finding moss is to keep your eyes on the ground (be careful not to run into anything though) and check out shady spots
  2. Once you've found some moss, use your spoon to carefully lift it and some of its substrate (soil or tree bark) from the ground and place it in the disposable container
  3. When you get the moss home, carefully add a couple of inches of soil to your bottle (I used a funnel since the neck of my bottle was particularly narrow) and moisten it slightly with a little water
  4. Very gently separate sections of moss to allow them to fit through the neck of the bottle
  5. Drop the sections into the bottle one at a time and use your tweezers or skewer to flip them soil-side down. Make sure not to rough them up while you're flipping them - moss can grow in crazy places, but it's still quite delicate
  6. Add sticks or rocks if you've decided to include them (I prefer the moss on its own, but it's up to you)
  7. Once you've covered the soil with moss, lightly mist the inside of your bottle - you'll want the sides of the bottle to be a little wet, but you don't want anything soggy
  8. Place the stopper/cap/cork on your bottle and find a nice mostly shady spot to display your moss
  9. Every day for the first few days, remove the stopper and gently spray your moss. After three or four days a light spray every other day should be alright (if it looks dry, spray more; if it's looking too wet, lay off on the spritzing)
  10. Enjoy your gorgeous moss as it grows!
The Mad Science Fair

Participated in the
The Mad Science Fair