Sphagnum moss is an excellent tool for retaining moisture in plants. But once all your plants are covered, you may have leftovers and not know how to store them for future use.
Sphagnum moss should be compacted, dried out, and stored inside of an air-tight container. If stored properly, the moss can remain usable for up to five years. Sphagnum moss does not require any specific temperature or light exposure during its storage.
Because sphagnum moss is such a useful tool in gardening, you do not want to let any of it go to waste. Even if you do not need the extra moss at the moment, there will likely be a use for it in the future. Learn how to store your sphagnum moss for future use below!
Storing Sphagnum Moss
Leftover sphagnum moss does not have to go to waste. In fact, storing your extra “sphag” is quick and easy! First, you will need a container to store the moss inside. This container should be both water and airtight when sealed.
If your sphagnum moss does not fit easily inside the container, it can be compacted down. However, be careful not to squish the sphagnum moss too much as this could damage it.
Once inside the container, set the sphag in the sunshine for a day or two to dry out. If sunshine is not readily available, setting it in a dry area for a few days will have the same effect.
It is important to make sure the sphagnum moss is completely dry before storing it. If there is moisture inside of the container, the sphag could be contaminated with mold or bacteria. If contaminated moss is put with plants, it could spread to the plants and kill them.
Once the sphagnum moss is completely dry, seal the container and put it somewhere safe. Moss does not require a certain amount of light or a certain temperature while in storage.
The sphagnum moss can last anywhere between 2-5 years, in most conditions. However, contrary to popular belief, the sphag is not alive throughout this duration. In fact, the moss was likely dead before you even purchased it.
Sphagnum moss can only last a short time without water inside of it before it perishes. Once their large water storage dries up, the moss will die.
Sphagnum moss is so popular among gardeners because it can store water even after it is dead. The plant will essentially act like a sponge holding and slowly diffusing the moisture into the soil. So do not worry about killing your sphagnum moss while in storage. Instead, focus on keeping the moss from growing any mold, bacteria, or other fungi.
Using Stored Sphagnum Moss
Eventually, the time will come that you are ready to break out the sphagnum moss you have stored away for some newly potted plants. But how do you “revive” the dried-up moss before placing it in planters?
First and foremost, examine the stored moss closely for mold, bacteria, or fungus. If you find any of these foreign substances inside the sphag, promptly remove those sections. Unfortunately, if moss, bacteria, or fungi has spread throughout the entire sphag, it will all need to be thrown away.
If your stored sphagnum moss has mold or other illnesses, it was likely caused by sealing the container before the moss was entirely dry. Ensure the moss is entirely dry before sealing the container for storage.
When handling stored sphagnum moss, consider wearing gloves. Handling sphagnum moss that has been contaminated with mold or bacteria could expose you to a sporotrichosis infection. Protect yourself by wearing gloves and washing your hands shortly after touching the moss.
Once you have sorted the good moss from the contaminated moss, you can begin the revival process.
Find a bucket or a bowl and fill it with lukewarm water. Completely submerge the moss inside of the water. Let the moss sit inside the water for a while. When you are ready to start potting, remove the sphagnum moss from the water and place it inside the planter.
Why Use Sphagnum Moss
If you are new to the world of gardening with sphagnum moss, you may wonder what makes this moss worth storing. In other words, what is so great about sphagnum moss?
Before we discuss the importance of using sphagnum moss, let’s first discuss what sphagnum moss is.
Sphagnum moss is often referred to as peat moss; however, it is not actually peat moss. Sphagnum moss is made up of a series of layers of plant debris that has been collected over thousands of years.
The main difference between sphagnum and peat moss is their pH levels. While sphagnum moss has a neutral pH, peat moss is very acidic. If the two have very different compositions, why is sphagnum moss often referred to as peat moss?
Well, their compositions are not entirely different from each other. In fact, peat moss is partially made up of dead and decomposed sphagnum moss. This connection often leads to some gardening confusion.
Sphagnum moss’s neutral pH makes it safe to use in garden beds; meanwhile, peat moss acidic pH could damage plants in a garden. Do not confuse sphag and peat when putting moss in your garden or risk damaging the plants.
Now we know what sphagnum moss is, but why should we use sphagnum moss in our gardens? What makes it so “valuable”?
When placed in potted plants, sphagnum moss prevents them from drying out. This is especially beneficial for planters in areas with dry heat.
Each time you water the potted plant, the moss will retain some of the water. As the soil dries out throughout the day, the moss will release some of its stored water. This keeps the plant’s roots hydrated between waterings.
Sphagnum moss can also be used as a soil conditioner for overall higher water retention. Broken down sphagnum is mixed in the soil that the plant is then planted in. This will increase the soil’s ability to retain water and other nutrients longer.
When using sphagnum moss as a soil conditioner, be cautious. As the moss breaks down, it will push the oxygen out of the soil. Without oxygen, the roots will suffocate. Rotate soil that has been conditioned with sphagnum moss frequently.
So why go to the effort to store sphagnum moss? Sphagnum moss is the perfect solution for keeping plants hydrated throughout the warmer, drier months of the year. Keeping some on hand makes for easy access when you start potting new plants.