14 Different Terrarium Moss Types

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There are 14 terrarium moss types in this list that you can incorporate into your terrarium which will be beautiful, easy to maintain, and bring aesthetics unique to each individual species.

After we’ve shown-off these mosses, we’ll also include a few frequently asked questions to help you get started before we give you our thanks and bid you a fond farewell.

Growing a mini-environment is a very special kind of art. Nature has provided your brushes and paints, but it’s going to be up to you what you create and what you pick to go together with the other plant or animal life in your terrarium.

If you’re ready, let’s take a look at the wonderful world of terrarium mosses!

Terrarium Moss types for livening up your Mini-Ecosystems

While you can go with whatever they have at the store, mixing up your mosses in a terrarium can produce some really stunning results. Mosses are fun that way. They’ll grow on rocks, woods, and some even do well completely underwater, so playing with the types to make something unique is fun and deeply rewarding.

In the sections below, we’ve compiled a list of 14 mosses that you can host to really liven things up a bit. Take a look at each and see what you think – they’re all gems, brought to you courtesy of Mother Nature!

Different Terrarium Moss Types

1. Club Moss

Club moss
Club moss
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Family: Lycopodiaceae
  • Scientific Name: Selaginella Kraussiana
  • Other Names: Emerald Isle Spikemoss, Scotch Moss

Care and information

Club moss is a lovely terrarium option that will for a dense, bio-carpeting, no taller than 2 inches, which will be either green or green with frosted tips/ It all depends on the variety that you decide to add but it’s definitely a good-looking moss and easy to care for.

Soil-wise, Club moss like a peat-moss based mix or you could also go with a horticultural sand and that will work just fine. If you use a liquid fertilizer, then  it should be well-balanced, and it’s best to use at half-strength with water so that you won’t burn the roots. 

2. Cone Moss

Cone moss
Cone moss
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Family: Lycopodiaceae
  • Scientific Name: Brachythecium rutabulum
  • Other Names: Rough-stalked Feather Moss

Care and information

If you are looking for a moss that makes you think of a forest floor, then Cone Moss is an excellent choice for your terrarium. This moss forms in patches of medium-sized, loose moss clumps, and the small branches spreading out with the pine like leaves make for a lovely green cover with a rich, varied texture to go with it. 

Cone moss will grow on just about any type of soil and can even spread and grow on rocks. A little spritzing with water every now and again and a few shady spots in your terrarium are all that you need to easily host it.

3. Delicate Fern Moss

Delicate fern moss
Delicate fern moss
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Family: Thuidiaceae
  • Scientific Name: Thuidium Delicatulum
  • Other Names: Fern moss, Log Moss

Care and information

Bright green and sometimes even a bright yellow, Delicate Fern moss is a fast growing moss option that makes a great addition to terrariums and also looks great on mini-waterfalls and rocks! It arrives dehydrated, at which point it looks like a mass of small, brown ferns, but once you add water to rehydrate it then it quickly springs back to life. 

This moss prefers an acidic soil or moist organic matter to grow and while its water needs are minimal like other mosses, for sunlight you want to stick to partial sunlight with a lot of shade in between.

4. Feather Moss

Feather Moss (Ptilium Crista-Castrensis)
Feather Moss (Ptilium Crista-Castrensis) – source
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Family: Sphagnaceae
  • Scientific Name: Ptilium Crista-Castrensis
  • Other Names: Ostrich Plume Moss, Knight’s Plume Moss

Care and information

With its pinnately-branched and nicely arching stems, Feather moss provides a nice bit of glossy cover that may be dark green, light green, or even yellow. This type of moss needs a good bit of constant terrarium moisture, but if it’s warm and moist inside the enclosure then this moss is just about a perfect fit.

Soils with a high organic content that will retain the most water are best and speaking of water, if your Feather moss looks dry in the slightest, then it needs a spritzing from your water bottle. As far as light goes, bright, indirect sunlight is good and even filtered sunlight will suffice for your Feather moss’s needs.

5. Java Moss

Close up of Java Moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri)
Close up of Java Moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri) – source
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Family: Hypnaceae
  • Scientific Name: Taxiphyllum barbieri
  • Other Names: Bogor moss

Care and information

Java moss has a pleasant fluffy texture to it that looks quite nice in any tropical terrarium or freshwater aquarium. This Southeast Asian moss grows up nice and thick – typically between 1 and 4 inches – and is an excellent choice for hiding additions to your terrarium, such as pump hoses for a waterfall or other little tidbits that you’ve added which don’t look natural.

To get it to grow, one neat little trick is simply attaching a sample of the moss with a bit of thread wherever you would like it to grow. Once it’s got a good hold, you can snip the thread if it’s still visible, and the moss should continue to thrive. Beyond this, just keep it spritzed with water to prevent it from drying out and while it likes sunlight, it can also grow without it, so this moss is a wonderful option if you’ve had trouble keeping your previous mosses alive.

6. Mood Moss

Mood moss
Mood moss
  • Difficulty Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Dicranaceae
  • Scientific Name: Dicranum Scoparium
  • Other Names:  Broom moss

Care and information

Mood moss is a terrarium option that is pet-friendly and also quite good looking!  With this moss, you get a lovely emerald or slightly darker green coloration, but also with a touch of coarseness that comes from the wooly, shaggy stems supporting those lovely leaves.

As far as a growing medium, you could go with wood, rocks, or acidic soils, and aside from this it prefers a humidity range of 60% to 90%. When misting it with your water bottle, go for even coverage, and while this moss will tolerate a small amount of sunlight, shade and occasional indirect light is best.

7. Nano Moss

Nano Moss (Amblystegium Serpens) also known as creeping feather moss covering a tree
Nano Moss (Amblystegium Serpens) also known as creeping feather moss covering a tree
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Family: Ambystegiaceae
  • Scientific Name: Amblystegium Serpens
  • Other Names: Creeping feather moss, Palm moss

Care and information

Nano moss is found throughout the northern hemisphere, although you can also find it in New Zealand, Australia, and in South America, and it’s a great option for aquariums and terrariums alike. It’s a fast grower and will grow just about anywhere that you want to affix it, provided that it has the right mix of light and humidity in its environs. 

Nano moss likes a soil with a very slight amount of acidity, with 4.5 to 6.0 being the ideal pH, and you should water it twice a week so that the soil stays moist. Light to medium shade is also preferred by this moss species, so it’s really quite easy to maintain! 

8. Peat Moss 

Peat moss
Peat moss
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Family: Sphagnaceae
  • Scientific Name: Sphagnum
  • Other Names: Bog moss

Care and information

If you’d like to add a little vibrant color to your terrarium, then Peat moss should definitely be considered – after all, it’s not every day that you see bright pink moss! Most of us have worked with this for gardening, but if you have a medium-to-high humidity terrarium (50-80%) then you really should give peat moss a try. Not only does it hold water well, but it helps to hydrate your other plants, too!

As far as growth, you can expect your peat moss to grow anywhere from 1 to 4 inches thick, with higher humidity tending to drive the most growth. Beyond this, it needs even watering with your misting bottle, but it will retain most of it, so 1 to 2 mistings a week should be fine. Finally, it will grow on almost any surface, so if you want to add a little pink to liven up your terrarium, then look no further than Peat moss. It’s good in the garden and great in your terrarium environment!

9. Pin Cushion Moss

Pincushion moss
Pin Cushion moss
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Family: Leucobryaceae
  • Scientific Name: Leucobryum glaucum
  • Other Names: Pillow moss

Care and information

Pin cushion moss, also known as ‘Pillow moss’, has long been a terrarium staple and it’s easy to see why. Lush, green, and fluffy – it forms in cushiony mounds that are attractive and easy to maintain.

Color is nice in your terrarium, but it’s best to have a mix. Flat carpet mosses, forest floor mosses, and mounds make for a much more magical terrarium and if you choose your mosses well, won’t add much maintenance at all.

As far as your substrate, you really don’t need any, as this moss can grow just about anywhere and aside from misting, it will get a lot of its water from the overall terrarium humidity. Regular, even moisture is going to be ideal, and you should see growth anywhere between 1 to 5 inches with this moss. 

It does like a little more light than a lot of other mosses, however, so bright, indirect or at least medium, indirect lighting exposure is best.

10. Pulvinate Dry Rock Moss

Pulvinate Dry Rock moss
Pulvinate Dry Rock moss
  • Difficulty Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Grimmiaceae
  • Scientific Name: Grimmia pulvinata
  • Other Names: Grey-cushioned Grimmia

Care and information

Pulvinate Rock moss is an interesting option that can give you a little yellow, green, and gray in your terrarium. While it’s an uncommon choice, it’s definitely interesting. As it grows, it first looks like tiny beans on a stalk, which then go green with lots of gray as it hydrates and starts spreading in your terrarium. 

These will form attractive cushion formations in time, although you should lay down a little potting soil for best results with this moss. If it’s getting indirect sunlight, then it should only need about .8 cup of water every 9 days (or just hydrate it up and maintain it with your spritzer), but a little direct sunlight and partial shade really is best for this moss.

11. Sheet Moss

Sheet moss
Sheet moss
  • Difficulty Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Hypnaceae
  • Scientific Name: Hypnum Cupresiforme
  • Other Names: Cypress-leaved Pleatmoss

Care and information

Sheet moss is an excellent way to carpet your terrarium and it also serves well for decorating rocks and wood. As the name suggests, it spreads in sheets of leaves which interlock and overlap, reminiscent of a cypress tree. As this moss occurs in places all over the world, it’s easy to maintain, making this a great option for beginners or veterans who simply don’t want to have to fuss too much to have a beautiful moss covering.

This moss will require a soil medium to get started, with a mix of sphagnum and perlite (for drainage) being ideal, although any medium with a pH of 5.5-6.5 and high organic content will do the trick nicely. After that, just keep it moist, but not soggy, and you’ll have a super-hardy moss carpeting in your terrarium in no time. 

Bright, indirect light is best for this moss and once it’s established, it’s highly heat resistant and isn’t even bothered by saltwater. So, if you’re looking for a strong, low-maintenance moss, you could do a lot worse than this handsome Hypnum.  

12. Silvery Threaded Moss

Silvery Threaded Moss (Bryum argenteum)
Silvery Threaded Moss (Bryum argenteum) – source
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner, Intermediate, or Expert
  • Family: Bryaceae
  • Scientific Name: Bryum argenteum
  • Other Names: Silver Moss

Care and information

Speaking of hardy mosses, Silvery threaded moss has been found all over the world, including contrasting climes such as South Africa and Antarctica (3 species were actually found there!).

Drought tolerant, this is a moss that you can cultivate just about anywhere you like – it will grow in your terrarium, on the sidewalk, in your garden… you name it. As the name suggests, its coloration is a lovely forest green with a lot of added silver, making it look rather like a wise, old moss.

To grow a little of your own Silvery threaded moss, all you’ll need is a well-draining soil substrate, sunlight in a range anywhere from partial shade to full, and an even spritzing once a week should give it all of the water that it needs. Easy-peasey!

13. Star Moss

Star moss
Star moss
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Family: Pottiaceae
  • Scientific Name: Tortula Ruralis
  • Other Names: Screw Moss

Care and information

Next up we have Star Moss, which gets its name from the star-shaped leaf formations that come with this hardy carpeting-type moss. Yellowish-green, this moss can grow anywhere from .5 up to 2 inches tall and not only does it require very little water, but it’s more tolerant of sunlight than most mosses you’ve across before. 

If you would like to grow a little Star Moss in your terrarium, then we recommend that you start with a tropical terrarium substrate, but that’s optional – it WILL give you a good head-start, but this moss will grow on just about anything. Watering can be done weekly with your misting bottle and while it can handle direct sunlight, bright and indirect light will be just fine for its needs.

Best of all, if you forget to water from time to time, this moss is drought resistant, so your moss should be okay if you’re a little late sometimes!

14. Tree Moss

Tree moss
Tree moss
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Family: Climaciaceae
  • Scientific Name: Climacium Dendroides
  • Other Names: Climacium moss

Care and information

Our last entry is Tree Moss, which is an evergreen moss that needs no soil and can grow up as high as 6 to 12 inches! As the name suggests, the growths look like tiny trees, making this an excellent choice for the center area of your terrarium, or perhaps on a rock or next to a stump for effect. 

As it doesn’t really have ‘true’ roots, you can grow this on any substrate that you like, but it will need a little more water than most mosses – a quick spritz one a day will be ideal. It is also not as light tolerant, so a little medium-intensity, indirect light is best for this moss. 

FAQs

Before we wrap things up, we’ve collected a few frequently asked questions that can help you to get started if you’re a little new to terrarium-building. These are here to help fill in a few areas that we might have missed and we hope that you’ll find them useful when you implement your new mosses. Without further ado, here’s what we’ve got!

What kind of soil do you use in a terrarium with moss?

Close-up Moss

It will really depend on the moss. Most mosses will do fine on rocks or wood, as they don’t really have a true root system like other plant life, but some will definitely do better with a substrate to start them off.

For most, potting soil, sometimes with a little perlite for drainage is fine, while other mosses might just need a little peat moss or coco coir to get off to a running start. Be sure to check your specific moss for best results, unless you’re playing with wild specimens and have a pretty good idea of what they’re going to need already.

How long do moss terrariums last?

moss close up

When you’re just getting started, 3 – 6 months is pretty good, and with low-maintenance mosses sometimes they will be fine for a couple of years. That said, if you keep a close eye on your terrarium and take good care of it, they’ve been known to last for DECADES. As such, it really pays to get to know all of the plants in these tiny, beautiful ecosystems – you can create something unique that you’ll be enjoying for many years to come!

How often should you water moss in a terrarium?

Moss close-up.

For most moss terrariums, a light spritzing of water once a week will be fine, or if you have a lot of other plants, then twice a week will be better. Don’t be afraid to touch-test the moss – if it feels dry to the touch, then it could use at least a light spraying, just aim for ‘moist, but not soggy’ and you’ve got the right idea.

Should moss be in an open or closed terrarium?

Moss

A closed terrarium is ideal for mosses, as it is going to have more humidity inside, and your water won’t be evaporating away at an alarming rate. Closed terrariums will basically create their own watering cycle, which makes them easier to maintain in the long run.

When you see moss in an open terrarium, it’s usually dried, as it’s much harder to keep it alive otherwise. You could possibly get away with an open terrarium, but the work you would need to put in to maintain this (and all the variables you’d need to deal with) will make this option quite prohibitive unless you really like micromanaging small environments.

Why is the moss dying in my terrarium?

Terrarium moss

Browning or yellowing of your moss is most likely indicative of too much or too little water, although with yellowing if your moss still feels moist, then try giving it a little more sun. With browned spots and wetness, you’ve definitely got a case of overwatering, and it’s led to root rot. You’ll want to modify your watering schedule and remove the brown bits immediately from the terrarium.

Some final words on these fine and magical mosses

Today we’ve worked our way through 14 vibrant and beautiful moss-types that you can transplant and grow in your terrarium at home. Each of these species brings its own set of aesthetics to the table, so that you’ve got carpeting mosses, climbing ones, and even fluffy pillow varieties that are sure to bring a little magic to your mini-environs. 

Just be sure to check the surface of your mosses to make sure that you are keeping them moist, but not soggy, and pay close attention to the sunlight requirements – while some are need sun or are fairly resistant to directly sunlight, a lot of moss prefers a shady, humid spot for the ideal growth conditions.

We encourage you to try out a few different types and before you know it, your terrarium will be more colorful, vibrant, and full of verdant green life!

Thanks so much for reading and we wish you and yours the very best!

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