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Is it possible to build and maintain a live moss table?
February 25, 2014 9:37 AM   Subscribe

I have a metal tray-style table I'd love to fill with moss. The tray is about 1.5" deep. My livingroom is pretty bright but my bedroom is dark. My questions for you are: 1) How do I install the moss? 2) Where do I put it? 3) How do I maintain it? Do I need a clear surface over the moss to contain moisture or can I rely on regular watering/misting? 4) If the moss won't work, are there other low/small similar plants I can substitute with?
posted by qzar to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Generally speaking, indoor moss does better if it's in an enclosed space, otherwise it tends to dry out. I have a variety of moss terrariums that I've been keeping in my house for the past few years and here's what I've learned.

- general directions for making moss terrariums are here. (that's my post)
- in short, you need something that will hold water close but not too close, and usually a layer that is sort of spongy on top of that and something to inhibit mold in this wet moist atmosphere you've created
- cool and not-too-bright works well. If you have covered moss then putting it in the sun means it heats up and bakes/dies
- if you do cover it, you will barely need to open it. I've had closed jars of moss that are fine and live totally well with only a little additional water every few months.
- you can find old books about terrarium building that have other suggestions. I've looked at a lot of the "do this or that with moss!" websites and very few of them seem to address the longevity issue. You can PUT moss anywhere but in order for it to live and thrive, it's pretty important to keep its environment more or less stable.

Could you post an image of the table you're describing? I think I know what it looks like but am not sure I'm envisioning it correctly.
posted by jessamyn at 9:56 AM on February 25 [5 favorites]


Thanks jessamyn! The table is sorrrta like this? But smaller and simpler (no casters, no lower level)

I am having a hard time finding any instructions for making "open" (entirely unconvered) mossariums (vs enclosed ones like in your boingboing post) and I imagine installation and maintenance will be somewhat different for both.
posted by qzar at 10:07 AM on February 25


Ah neat! Yeah all the open mossariums I tried to make eventually died and I get the feeling that they just need more ambient humidity than I was able to get to them, even with frequent mistings, though I've been able to keep moss alive in dishes of water as long as it was attached to some dirt underneath and was kept out of the sun. I'll be interested to see what you can find out. You might be able to make it work if you had some sort of a soaker hose underneath it, but then that might affect the integrity of the cart itself.
posted by jessamyn at 10:10 AM on February 25


Is there some reason you can't have a plexiglass top cut to fit the trolly snugly? That would give you a simple closed environment. Is there a reason it *needs* to be open?
posted by DarlingBri at 10:13 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]


It doesn't need need to be open, but the tray is pretty shallow, so short of building a plexiglass tent (which might be a viable option) that is suspended a couple inches above the top of the tray, I don't think I could fit everything including the plexiglass. I'll think on all this and keep you posted :)
posted by qzar at 10:17 AM on February 25


This link is for moss shower mats, but it might give you some ideas/guidance: moss shower mat.
posted by brilliantine at 11:22 AM on February 25


Do you have allergies? Moss reproduce through spores so it might not be a great idea to have them in your sleeping area if you can avoid it.
posted by a halcyon day at 1:25 PM on February 25


Some potting soils, and baby diapers, for that matter, have a gel in them that holds moisture. A layer of that might help keep it mossy.
posted by theora55 at 2:21 PM on February 28


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