For the bored, locked-down and lonely

Activity: Make a mini moss landscape for your home

the finished moss garden with a tiny model of spongebob's pineapple house

The lovely thing about moss is that it’s all texture: some mosses are velvety, other mosses are frondy, some are spiky and some have lots of tickly little tentacles. Moss is gaining popularity as a houseplant thanks to terrariums getting trendy, but you don’t need to plant it in a mason jar or antique vitrine for it to be a beautiful and lively burst of green in your house. And the great thing about a mini moss garden is that you can make your own for almost no money!

You will need:

  • a plastic bag (for the love of god, please reuse one you have lying around)
  • some generic compost or compost designed for good drainage (i.e. cactus compost or such like)
  • some bits of broken crockery or large pebbles
  • some sand or fine gravel if you have it
  • a plant pot of your choice (optionally with a plastic plant pot to fit inside it) OR any vessel you like as long as you can make holes in the bottom of it, i.e. a biscuit tin or vintage colander (even better – pre-holed!)

Step 1

Go for a walk in the woods.

the forest

You’re almost sure to find some mossy spots in dappled shade as you wander through the trees. IMPORTANT NOTE: This is NOT a tutorial where I tell you to dig huge divots of moss out of a natural habitat. Don’t do that.

Moss is a fairly raggedy plant and there are often loose clumps of it around that have been scuffed up by animals, loosened by other walkers or have just generally come unstuck from the ground. These are the bits you can collect for your moss garden. Try to find a variety of different moss types if you can, and pop them in your plastic bag, sealing it with a clip to keep the moisture in, as you gather.

Step 2

Prep your moss.

a collection of moss

The woods are full of a lot of debris. I managed to bring about 60% of it back on my moss.

Carefully remove any bits of crud off the moss and make it look as clean as possible. Also try to remove any bits of debris, leaves or bark from the underside of the moss where it will need to make contact with the soil.

Step 3

Prep your pot.

a ceramic pot and a plastic pot which fits it

I’m going to use a plastic ‘liner’ pot to plant up this moss because it means I can swap it into a new pot later if I feel like a whole new look. ? As I mentioned in the ‘You will need’ section, you could also plant directly into a decorative plant pot as long as it has a hole in the bottom, or into a container with holes in the base.

First place the bits of broken pottery or the pebbles into the bottom of the pot.

pottery shards at the bottom of the plastic pot

Then add compost and the sand/gravel if you have it – I’m going to mix them with my hand right in the pot to keep things easy.

compost and sand in the pot

Fill the pot right up to the top with compost and pat it down gently. Then mist the top of it or drizzle water onto it until it is nicely damp.

the compost is now filling the pot
misting the surface of the soil with a spray bottle

Step 4

Arrange your moss-scape.

arranging the moss on the surface of the compost

Place the clumps of moss, soily-side down, onto the compost, gently pressing it down. Tuck the rooty edges of the clumps down around the sides of the pot (but feel free to let frondy bits trail over the edge.

Add anything else you fancy – you could plant a little decorative fern into the compost if you have a larger container, or place decorative rocks between the moss clumps. I’ve added some little sempervivum rosettes that were getting overgrown in one of my other planters.

the finished mossy display

Then mist the top of the moss until it is nice and dewy.

I also highly recommend that you place some kind of goofy scenery on there or add tiny plastic animals roaming across the primordial heath you have now created. A little toy dinosaur would be perfect – here, I’ve chosen to go with a more nautical theme. And voila!

the finished moss garden with a tiny model of spongebob's pineapple house


If you’re keeping your moss garden indoors, mist or water it a couple of times a week, since it can only take moisture from the surface of the soil. You can also keep it outdoors and just water it in dry periods.

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