preserved moss

Is Moss Alive?

Is moss alive” is the most common question we get from our clients looking for moss walls. Many of our clients are looking to replicate the still, peacefulness of lush woodlands in our indoor spaces where we all spend the majority of our time. The big question is “How do we bring living moss indoors?” One increasingly popular but still widely unknown approach is Moss Walls. Having worked with moss walls for over 8 years, we are here to share what we have learned about both live and preserved moss walls.

Is Moss Alive? A Comprehensive Guide to Moss Characteristics

Moss is a living organism and a type of plant in the Bryophyte group. Like all living organisms, mosses are made up of cells and perform life processes such as respiration, metabolism, and reproduction. 

Mosses have a simpler body structure without complex structures like roots, stems, and leaves found in higher plants. They also lack a true vascular system for transporting water and nutrients. Therefore, mosses prefer moist environments where they can absorb water through their leaves.

So, moss is not a plant. It is a species called bryophytes, which is a fancy way of saying they have no root system. Moss gets its needed moisture and nutrients directly from the air, and you can begin to understand why moss thrives in specific places around the world.

Although beautiful, the humidity or moisture necessary for moss to live and grow in is difficult to recreate indoors.

This brings us to what we feel is the best solution for the indoor world… preserved moss. What is the difference between living moss and preserved moss? Scroll down to find out.

Preserved Moss Walls
Two Story Preserved Moss Wall for confidential client in Detroit, MI

Live Moss

To create conditions comfortable for humans and to prevent mold, we generally keep the humidity indoors down below what live moss needs to survive. 

That being said, there are a few ways to compensate and make growing living moss indoors possible. 

Using a terrarium or large jar that is mostly enclosed is one of the most common for indoor moss gardens. By adding material to mimic the natural environment of moss – a plant or two, a small piece of live moss (you can buy moss online) soil, and rock for it to grow on. You only need to mist your moss plants occasionally, ensure it has bright light and you will be able to see your moss growing slowly

This is incredibly rewarding! We all love to watch living things grow and develop and moss is no exception. The soft, green beauty of a moss garden is universally attractive.

live moss plant
Terrariums are great individual projects, but maybe less so for businesses

If you are looking to grow moss on a wall indoors, this will take a quite bit more effort. Misters and supplemental light will be needed to keep moss alive. This will add humidity to your space and, as with every water feature, there is maintenance required to prevent mineral buildup in the misters or on the surfaces. You will also need to remember to add water and prevent the system from losing power or failing. This level of maintenance for living moss is not desirable for the average person or business.

This brings us to the next best solutions…

Living Moss

Preserved Moss

However, there is a better and easier way: preserved moss. What’s so great about preserved moss? Indoor preserved moss:

  • Looks and feels like it’s living moss
  • Never needs to be watered
  • Doesn’t need soil or sunlight
  • Stays beautiful for years
  • Can be installed in any space
  • Has acoustic benefits

What is Preserved Moss?

Preserved moss is natural moss that is no longer alive, having undergone an eco-friendly preservation process specifically for decorative purposes. These small plants are typically found in damp or shady locations. The careful preservation ensures that the natural moss maintains its appeal while being environmentally friendly, making it an excellent choice for various design applications.

Preserved moss is a type of moss that undergoes a unique treatment to maintain its appearance and texture for an extended time. The preservation process entails substituting the living moss‘ natural moisture with a glycerin-based solution. This enables the preserved moss to maintain its vibrant hue and softness without the usual care needed for living moss. Preserved moss is commonly employed in interior design, artwork, and various crafts due to its low-maintenance and long-lasting charm.

As a carefree alternative to live moss, preserved moss is fascinating, though its production is labor-intensive. Initially, the moss or lichen is cultivated sustainably, hand-harvested, and subjected to the moss preservation process, which replaces the internal “sap” with a solution that ensures a soft, pliable texture. It is then dyed to mimic natural moss colors. The specific method is a closely guarded industry secret known only to a select few.

Once preserved, the moss remains stable and can last for years without requiring any care. It retains the appearance and feel of soft, living moss. However, it can be damaged by UV rays, rain or excess water, and mechanical damage like crushing or pulling forces. This is how we make a moss wall.

Is Moss Living

We work with four types of preserved moss:

  • Pole/Bun Moss
  • Reindeer Moss
  • Flat Moss
  • Pillow Moss

While often categorized into the same group, Reindeer Moss is actually not a moss but a lichen. This is available in many different colors and can be used to create detailed imagery such as logos and geometric patterns, making it one of our most popular offerings for moss tiles.

There are no humidity requirements for preserved moss although the preserved lichen will get stiff if the relative humidity falls below 35% and will rehydrate on its own once the humidity bounces back. Its appearance does not change when dehydrated but will be significantly more brittle.

If you live in an area with low humidity like the South Western US, we suggest leaning towards preserved mosses, like pole moss or flat moss. If you do use the lichen (and many do) you can also occasionally mist the preserved lichen with a spray bottle if it’s important that the moss stays soft.

When dealing with preserved moss It is important to note the difference between preserved moss and dried moss, both are available. Dried moss is just as it seems and will fade and deteriorate over time. We don’t use dried moss and recommend that unless your project is for a one-time event that you avoid it as well.

Is Preserved Moss Alive

The common reasons for these green moss walls are:

  1. A beautiful biophilic element
  2. Maintenance-free alternative to live plant walls
  3. No light or moisture requirements
  4. Incredible acoustic properties
  5. Make a green statement
  6. Lower-cost alternative to live walls
  7. Once installed no access is needed so these can be installed in hard to get to places

Preserved moss is now used extensively in interiors with the main use being space-beautifying moss walls, moss logos, etc. A lesser-known fact about moss wall panels is their extensive acoustic benefits. We have plenty of information in this section about our acoustic tiles. By now we suspect you can see why we recommend preserved moss 99.9% of the time! We hope you have found this helpful if we can answer any further questions please reach out – we would love to hear from you and of course, we would love to help create your beautiful next moss piece!

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