Sphagnum moss is used in a variety of ways in conjunction with growing Bonsai. The main characteristic of Sphagnum that makes it useful to Bonsai growing is its ability to hold a lot of water. Sphagnum moss plants can hold 16–26 times as much water as their dry weight.
Sphagnum also does not decay easily as it contains phenolic compounds in its cell walls. It therefore can be used in applications that can take a long time to complete. It does not break down as easily as other growing mediums. Sphagnum originating from peat bogs is known to aid in preservation of substances due to the phenols, but also due to the fact that it grows in an anaerobic environment. Less oxygen means less decay. It is a well-known fact that bones and the remains of living organisms that end up in peat bogs tend to be quite well-preserved after a long period of time.Not all Sphagnum Moss is equalIn a large city recently, I called half a dozen garden centers looking for long fiber sphagnum moss. No luck anywhere. I finally found a sad example of moss at a big box store. It was ugly brown, full of sticks and would only be good if used where it couldn't be seen. I was surprised by how difficult it was to find nice looking sphagnum moss.
Uses of Sphagnum MossSucculents love sphagnum moss because it absorbs lots of water and then dries out quickly. This allows the plants to get the water then need without suffering from rotting issues. Here are some of the ways that sphagnum moss and succulents work together well:
Soilless Planting - Succulents can grow directly in sphagnum moss without any soil. Soilless planting with moss can be used in wall planters where the weight of soil might be an issue, in terrariums, in wreaths or anywhere else that the use of soil presents a problem. One note, because sphagnum moss does dry more quickly than soil, more frequent watering might be required and occasional fertilizing.
Form Building - Anytime you have a frame (like the wire chicken planter I did earlier) you will end up lining the form with sphagnum moss. You can see this in succulent wreaths and topiaries. A thick layer of moist moss covers the frame and is then filled with soil.
Secure Plants - Planting in vertical spaces (like the cracks in a rock wall or containers) presents the challenge of the plants wanting to fall before their roots are established. You can stuff the space around the succulent's roots with moss to hold the plant in place.
Soil Conditioning - Three elements are important in soil: moisture retention, drainage, and nourishment. Sphagnum moss enhances all of these characteristics of soil.
Container Accent - A tuft of fluffy, green sphagnum moss poking out between the succulent plants or hanging down the container side can be the finishing touch that completes your planting.