I’ve always loved incorporating different types of moss into my landscaping. Moss grows very close to the ground in tight clumps or mats, and this gives it a unique look that is difficult to replicate with any other type of plant. As a bonus, it’s relatively easy to find moss growing and thriving in the wild, and it does extremely well in forest gardens. No matter the type of moss you have, it’ll grow almost anywhere in your yard or garden without a problem. Moss is extremely popular in Japanese gardening, and it’s caught on around the world for helping to fill in rock gardens and as ground cover. Because it spreads around the area in a carpeted fashion, it’s a great pick if you want an alternative to traditional grass.
If you’re fascinated with the different types of moss and how it grows, you’ve most likely incorporated it into your garden, or you’re planning on doing it soon. It can seem very daunting to add it since it doesn’t grow like your rooted plants, and there are so many different types of moss to consider. However, you’ll find that this is an easy, low-maintenance choice that makes a stunning addition to any yard, garden, or landscape. I’ll help you decide on the perfect type of moss for your wants and needs below.
1. Dicranum Scoparium
Better known as Mood Moss, this is a bright green type of moss that has the traditional moss appearance. This moss will grow in a tight mound, and this makes it an excellent species to put in shaded rock gardens or forest gardens. Unlike some other moss, this type shouldn’t have too much sun because it can cause it to burn and damage it. You should also avoid putting it in a place that is very wet. Instead, plant it in a partially shaded area that gets dappled sunlight. Water it and let it dry out between watering sessions. It’ll slowly spread out from the original mound, and it can add texture to your yard.
2. Polytrichum Commune
This is a frilly green type of moss that can grow to an impressive 16-inches tall under the right growing conditions. It makes an excellent addition as a low-maintenance landscaping idea, and it fits well between pavers or as a lawn replacement. As long as you live in zones 2 to 14, this type of moss will thrive in a huge range of conditions. It does well in full or parietal shade, but it can also grow in full to partial sun. It looks like a mini evergreen, and it’ll keep the lush color all year. It needs moderate moisture, and it’s not picky about the soil conditions as long as it has organic matter.
3. Leucobryum Glaucum
This type of moss also goes by Pincushion Moss, and for good reason. It grows in a very tight mound that resembles a small pin cushion. This means that it can add a whimsical touch to your landscape, and it also adds much-needed texture. You get a blue-green color with this moss, and it can get between one and four inches tall. It can also get quite wide at 20-inches in diameter. Grow it in an area that gets partial sun, and you want to avoid full sunlight or it’ll burn. It needs moderate amounts of water, but you don’t have to saturate it for it to grow well.
4. Fern Moss
This is the type of moss that you see clinging on and to the sides of logs when you go into the woods. This particular variety will grow extremely fast, and it can grow very well on rocks as well as logs. Florists use this type of moss in floral arrangements in dried form. It has a velvety texture with a vibrant green coloring that can make it pop in your rock garden. For the best results, grow it in an area that gets dappled sunlight, and try to keep the ground moderately most. It shouldn’t be soaked, and it can pull a lot of water from whatever it’s growing on to keep it healthy.
5. Plagiomnium Cuspidatum
This type of moss has unique sharp-toothed leaves to give it the common name of Baby Tooth Moss. Unlike others on the list, this moss prefers to grow in cooler environments with partial shade. It doesn’t like humidity or very hot environments because it can burn. This moss is very versatile as it can grow in everything from sand to clay, and it can also do well on rocky surfaces. The leaves look like small succulents, and they can be almost transparent. Keep it moist and out of the direct sunlight to encourage it to spread and grow throughout the year.
6. Entodon Seductrix
This is a full sun type of moss that is better known as Shiny Sexy Moss. It spreads very rapidly once it establishes itself, and it’ll grow very close to the ground. It works well as a cover for bare rock gardens or green roofs. It doesn’t need a lot of water to keep the lush green coloring, and this type of moss loves full sun for at least six hours of the day. It makes an excellent addition to your walkways or between your pavers, and it’ll continue to happily spread over the area you plant it in each year.
7. Hypnum Imponens
Better known as Feather Moss, this type of moss grows best in areas that get full to partial shade. It can’t handle a lot of sun without burning, and it likes to have the soil more acidic. However, it can do well in a broad range of soil types. The leaves are a lighter green color, but they can be yellow or deep green hues. It works well in rock gardens, and it has a slightly feathery appearance that adds a nice pop of texture to your space. It’s a low-growing species that doesn’t require much upkeep when it establishes itself, and it’s a very hardy species that is hard to kill.
8. Campylopus Introflexus
Heath Star Moss is one type of moss that is native to South America. It has unique star-shaped leaves and an appearance that makes it stand out. You can put it in raised garden beds without a problem, but you should keep a close eye on it. It’s very fast-growing, and some areas consider it to be invasive. You may have to cut it back to prevent it from taking over any surrounding plants. It should be in partial shade to full sun, and it thrives in a range of soil conditions. You do want to water it sparingly, and it collects a lot of water from the surrounding environment.
9. Climacium Americanum
This type of moss also goes by the name American Tree Moss. However, it doesn’t get this name because it tends to grow on trees. Instead, the moss has a shape that looks like a tiny forest of trees. It grows in mounds, and the mounds can get up to five inches high at full maturity. You want to keep it in a partially-shaded location because direct sunlight and hot conditions will scorch it. It likes a medium moisture level with a slightly acidic soil, and it can do well with a huge range of soil compositions ranging from clay to sand. It will slowly spread out from the original mound.
10. Bryoandersonia Illecebra
Better known as Spoon Leaved Moss, this type of moss has a very low-growing habit. It creates a nice cushion when you walk on it, and this makes it a suitable alternative for traditional grass, much like you’d get if you installed artificial grass. They have odd-shaped and long cylindrical foliage, and it offers a nice habitat for any frogs or other amphibians you have around your home. It likes humus-rich soil, and this is a very long-lived moss that you can easily plant around your pond to keep the wildlife happy and give them a natural shelter they can escape to if they need to.
11. Aulacomnium Palustre
This type of moss is Ribbed Bog Moss, and it has leaves that come with a slightly yellowish coloring that is very eye-catching. It also has a slightly hairy appearance that can add welcome texture to your yard or landscape design. It has the nickname of glow moss because the yellow coloring seems to glow when the light hits it. It grows best in partial shade. If it’s in the sun, make sure it’s in the shade in the warmer afternoon hours. It doesn’t need much in the way of care. The soil should drain very well, and it can be slightly acidic and rich with organic matter for this moss to thrive.
12. Sphagnum Centrale
Common Peat Moss is immensely popular in gardening and planting projects, and you typically see it mixed in with potting soil to help it retain more moisture. This type of moss traditionally grows very rapidly in bogs or swamps, but it can also do very well around ponds or marshes. It has a yellowish-green coloring to it, and it works wonderfully as a replacement to traditional grass. It can grow in full sunlight to full shade without a problem, and it likes to get a decent amount of moisture. You should have a rich soil, and you don’t have to water it often because the moss retains a lot of moisture to keep it growing.
13. Ptilium Crista-Castrensis
Plume Moss is an attractive type of moss that will grow in larger patches. It has leaves that are under an inch long at the highest point, and it has a pretty feather-like appearance that makes it a very ornamental addition to your yard or garden. As a bonus, this moss is very popular as a decorative element on indoor plants to help them retain moisture while upgrading the look of the plant overall. It does best in partial shade in slightly cooler environments, and it shouldn’t need a high amount of moisture. For the soil, it can do well in a large range of poor or rich options.
14. Polytrichum Juniperinum
If you’re looking for a slightly taller type of moss, Juniper Moss will grow in an upright position to get about five inches high at full maturity. You can find this moss growing all over the world, but it doesn’t like a lot of water like some mosses do. Instead, it prefers to grow in an area that is relatively dry in sun or partial shade. It it slightly pickier with the soil type, and it prefers to have slightly acidic soil to thrive. It looks spiky when it grows, and it features a deep green coloring that is very attractive.
15. Hypnum Cupressiforme
This is a type of moss that you can find growing all over the world. The only place that it won’t grow is in Antarctica, and it’s very tolerant of a huge range of growing conditions and environments. This means that it’s excellent for people who are brand-new to growing moss because it can take a lot of abuse without sustaining damage. This moss will grow in small clumps that resemble a small forest of Cyprus trees, and this gives in a unique look. You’ll get a light yellow-green coloring that looks lighter under the sunlight. You can grow it in virtually any soil or lighting conditions without a problem.
16. Ceratodon Purpureus
If you want to add a little color around your outdoor bench, try planting Fire Moss. This moss comes with brilliant green tips that slowly fade to a brownish-red coloring closer to the ground that makes it look like the moss is on fire. Many people call it purple moss, and it grows in small tufts. It needs slightly acidic soil to grow best, and it won’t need a lot of moisture. This moss doesn’t spread aggressively once it establishes itself, so you don’t have to worry about it taking over any surrounding plants.
17. Racomitrium Canescens
This is another type of moss that is very low-growing when it gets established, and it’s also extremely tolerant to drought to make it much easier to grow and maintain. As a bonus, when the moss has a lack of water and it needs more, it’ll turn to a paler green to give you a visual cue that it’s time to water it. You can put it in sunny areas, but it does better in partial to full shade. Additionally, it likes slightly more acidic soil, but it can easily make do with a large variety of soil and sun conditions without negatively impacting it.
18. Rhytidiadelphus Triquetrus
Shaggy Moss is a type of moss that also goes by the name Electrified Cat Tail Moss. It has very dark green foliage that looks wonderful in planter boxes, and it can grow up to four inches high. This is enough to add interest without overtaking your other flowers. It has a very sprawling growth habit under the correct conditions, and it can help to fill in bare areas in your yard. Plant it in a spot that gets partial shade, and don’t give it an excessive amount of water. It likes slightly sandy but rich soil that drains well after you water it.
Rhytidiadelphus Triquetrus by Jason Hollinger / CC BY 2.0
19. Callicladium Haldanianum
This is a very wispy type of moss also known as Tousled Treasure. It does very well planted in rock gardens as it spreads out evenly to create eye-catching pieces for your yard. It likes to be in semi-shaded areas with dappled sun. One thing to note is that anywhere it gets routine sun exposure will change colors. It can take on a slightly reddish hue that stands out from the traditional green coloring. It’s a very low-growing species that won’t take over your yard, it tends to grow relatively slowly from season to season. The wispy look makes it nice for containers or the edges of walkways.
2919 Moss by rockerBOO / CC BY-SA 2.0
20. Sphagnum Warnstorfia
This is another pretty type of moss that will change color depending on how much sunlight you expose it to. It can grow in full shade to full sun. But, if you want this moss to turn a deep red, you’ll have to plant it in an area that gets full sun like by your outdoor garden shelves or project area. When you put it in the shade, the stems stay a green color. This is a very low-growing plant that spreads out slowly, and it likes a range of soil conditions as long as they’re not too wet and soggy.
Red and green peat mosses by mwms1916 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
21. Rhytidiadelphus Squarrosus
This is a very widespread type of moss that you can find all over in lawns and grasslands. Commonly called Springy Turf Moss, it can grow up to six inches tall. It’s extremely tolerant of very damp conditions, and it likes partial shade with wet and acidic soil. The foliage is green with a thicker hair-like look to it, and it points in the opposite direction of the plant’s red stems for an eye-catching look. This moss won’t tolerate very dry or sunny conditions without scorching and incurring damage. So, it’s a good idea to be very mindful of where you choose to plant it.
Rhytidiadelphus Squarrosus by Oskar Gran / CC BY-NC 2.0
22. Syntrichia Latifolia
Water Screw Moss is a type of moss that is extremely hard to kill and easy to grow, and it can get up to an inch tall at full maturity. This moss is very tolerant of wet conditions, and it can survive flooding without an issue. It needs partial shade with gravel or sandy soil to thrive. This is a very ornamental plant that has smaller broad leaves that come packed in circles around the plant’s stem. They look like a tight carpet of green growth. You’ll find them growing on trees, and they can also grow on moist rocks and walls without a problem.
Syntrichia Latifolia by John Game / CC BY 2.0
23. Hylocomium Splendens
Glittering Wood Moss can easily grow up to four inches tall when you plant it in an area that gets partial shade with acidic soil. One interesting thing about this type of moss is that it has glossy foliage that seems to glitter when the sun hits it. It’s a feather moss that you’ll find all over the northern hemisphere, and it loves cooler climates like in Canada, Scotland, and Russia. The red stems can get up to eight inches long, and it produces olive-green foliage. There are antibacterial properties with this moss, and it’s great for filling in gaps in log cabins in Alaska and Canada.
Glittering Wood moss or Step moss – Hylocomium splendens by Sheila / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
24. Thuidium Tamariscinum
This is a type of moss better known as Common Tamarisk Moss. It can grow up to six inches tall when you put it in a place that gets partial to full shade. It likes heavy clay-like soil that is neutral, and it looks like a very small fern. It has a very lacy and delicate look to it, and you get bright greenish-yellow foliage with dark stems that create a nice contrast. You’ll find this moss growing in very dense tufts on rotting logs and damp ground. Try to keep the soil consistently moist without soaking it, and make sure it doesn’t get a lot of sun or it’ll scorch the delicate leaves.
Tamarisk Moss (Thuidium tamariscinum) by John Game / CC BY 2.0
25. Atrichum Undulatum
This type of moss will grow well on almost any surface, and it can get up to three inches tall at full maturity under the right conditions. This is another moss that likes to grow best in partial to full shade, and you should have it in a very well-draining soil. It has lance-shaped leaves that spread out to create a star shape when you look down at it. The leaves have a stiff texture with a bright green coloring, and they turn crispy when the plant dries out. It can survive with minimal exposure to sunlight, but it’ll scorch in full, direct sunlight.
26. Polytrichum Piliferum
This type of moss looks like a succulent. You can commonly find this moss growing and thriving in any sites that are dry, open, and have an acidic soil. You’re very likely to find it growing in shallow soil over various outcroppings, in disturbed areas like rocks and roadsides, or in open sandy soil banks by rivers. It can easily tolerate very dry conditions and higher temperatures without a problem. It likes partial shade to full sun, and it has stiff leaves with a light red center that create a very eye-catching look and feel that can add welcome texture to your planting projects.
Bristly Haircap Moss, Polytrichum piliferum by Yankech gary / CC BY-ND 2.0
These 26 types of moss can make wonderful additions around your yard or in your planting projects. You can mix and match them to create stunning looks, and they can even be the centerpieces of your yard. As long as you follow the growing condition instructions, there’s no reason why these types of moss can’t keep delighting you year after year.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.