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Moss: A Natural Water Lover and Organic Growing Medium

Did you know you could use moss as an eco-friendly growing medium. Did you know you could use moss as an eco-friendly growing medium.


Many people know sphagnum moss as the pretty lining to a forest floor, but it is also a powerful medium in hydroponic gardening. Organic and wild-harvested, moss holds a special place among eco-friendly producers looking to outfit their operation with more natural components.

As a renewable resource, it is definitely a great choice for the sustainability-minded, and being a natural material, the ability to return moss to its origins through composting only adds to its benefits.

Moss is incredibly absorbent and its ability to retain both nutrients and water is hard to rival. This is mostly because moss is a natural water lover and, in its native habitat, thrives in shady, moist conditions.

Its penchant for the dark and damp, however, is not without cause. This unusual forest dweller lacks a vascular system and, picking up a clump of moss and turning it over, you may notice there is very little in the way of roots.

As an eco-friendly growing medium moss is hard to beat.

The small, thread-like filaments that are visible are called rhizoids and help moss cling to surfaces. They do absorb some water but in the end prove to be scarcely enough. It is for this reason a clump of moss acts like a sponge. With very small roots and no vascular system, the entire body of moss is responsible for water collection and absorption.

A second reason for moss’s water-loving nature: water plays a crucial part in its reproductive cycle. Much like their shade- and water-loving forest companions, fungi and ferns, mosses propagate through spore dispersal.

Mosses reproduce sexually, meaning there is both male and female moss, although it is also capable of reproducing sexually when smaller parts of itself are broken off and relocated. When sperm-bearing moss is virile and ready to fertilize, it will release its seed into raindrops or dew. This sperm laden water will eventually drop or splash onto a receptive female moss, fertilizing it and beginning reproduction.

Forests are acidic environments and because moss originates here, it also takes on a slightly acidic disposition. Producers who choose to use moss in their growing set-up should take note and be wary of adjusting their pH levels accordingly. This shouldn’t deter much from a healthy nutrient balance and will be worthwhile for organic growers especially as moss is so readily available over other natural mediums.

Since moss is so adept at breaking itself into smaller pieces due to its reproductive nature, large lattice or net-pot production techniques will yield the best results when used hydroponically. Using these two methods, long strands of moss can sit comfortably where they are placed without falling into the flow, but also be exposed enough to absorb plentiful amounts of nutrient water.

As an eco-friendly growing medium, it is hard to beat and as an aqueous native, it only makes sense. Moss may not be as cut and dry as industry standards like rockwool or perlite, but for those on the road to organic growing, the rewards are natural.

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More fun you can have with moss.
Last modified on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 21:38

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