Today, let's talk about moss. No, really! If you're relatively new to Bonsai, it's time to learn about one of those "little secrets" that separates a great Bonsai tree from all the rest.
Moss is actually one of the best additions you can make to most Bonsai. Packets of spores are extremely affordable, fast-growing, and they bring plenty of benefits to the looks and the health of your Bonsai. It's truly a must-have for just about any planting.
Three Reasons Moss Is A Great Part Of A Bonsai Display
1 - Create A More Realistic Planting
Bonsai is the art of creating nature in miniature, and the best Bonsai displays fool the eye into thinking it's a full-size tree. Moss makes a wonderful addition to most displays specifically because it's like scale-model grass. A Bonsai tree resting upon a mossy bed can look remarkably like a larger tree planted in grass.
If you prefer windswept, rocky cliff-style looks for your Bonsai, moss can still add depth and texture. Dabbing a bit onto the rocks, rather than a full covering, makes it look far more like natural cliffs. You could even put a bit on the tree itself, but you'll want to make sure the moss doesn't overgrow the tree trunk.
2 - Hold In Moisture
A full bed of moss covering the soil around your Bonsai tree will help the soil retain moisture, and reduce how often you need to water. The moss itself needs so little water that it's water-positive. This can be an especially good trick for water-loving Bonsai that need to be kept well-watered at all times, and for outdoor trees that may get more sun exposure than they might prefer.
3 - Insulation
Yep, moss is one of nature's insulators. It holds in heat during the winter, and helps keep the soil cool during summer, which helps protect the roots of your Bonsai tree throughout the year. A coat of moss around the ground really is one of the best all-around things you can do to help ensure the health of your Bonsai.
Three Tricks For Growing Bonsai Moss Effectively
As you can undoubtedly imagine, moss is generally quite easy to grow. That said, there are a few things you can do to help ensure the moss you add to your tree grows in properly.
1 - Don't over-seed
This is the most common mistake. Packets of Bonsai moss spores are generally sold in amounts that cover up to three square feet. If you have a small planting, don't use the entire packet. Too many spores will compete for each other for resources, and sometimes they won't germinate at all.
2 - Moisten the soil first.
Moss loves moisture, and needs it to grow properly. The best time to plant moss is shortly after a watering, once the soil has fully absorbed the water. Also, moist ground will hold onto the spores better and prevent them from being carried away by wind in the first few days.
3 - Add more light.
Moss also needs plenty of sunlight to grow properly at first. If your Bonsai tends to stay indoors, or in shady areas, consider relocating it so it gets more sunlight for a few days. Try to avoid direct sunlight, though, as that can dry out the soil too quickly. Either way, be aware you'll need to water it a bit more while it's getting extra light.
If all goes well, within a month or so, you'll have a visible coating of moss that will soon grow into a beautiful and healthy bed for your Bonsai!