March 28, 2010

Moss Appeal

Very few other plants are as easy – on you, or on the eyes.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Moss flourishes under evergreens at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay.

Courtesy of William Cullina

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Ceratodon purpureus growing between bricks.

Courtesy of William Cullina

DO-IT-YOURSELF MOSS

HERE IS A recipe for a moss paste you can use to try to grow moss in your garden or yard. It comes from William Cullina, director of horticulture at Coastal Maine Botanical Garden in Boothbay. For more information on moss, see his Web site, williamcullina.com.

FIRST, BEGIN with moss taken from places with similar conditions present in locations where you want to grow moss. Also, if you want to cover stone, take moss that is covering stone. If you want ground cover, use moss that was growing in soil.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of fresh moss

1 1/2 to 2 cups water

1/2 cup of beer (Cullina says he is not sure the beer does anything, but it means you can drink the rest so it doesn't go to waste. In theory, the sugars in buttermilk or beer help the moss adhere at first.)

1 teaspoon of sodium polyacrylate (crystals sold at nurseries and also found in disposable diapers)

INSTRUCTIONS: Soak the crystals in a cup of warm water for 5 to 10 minutes, until they have absorbed all the water. Then put them in a blender with moss and other ingredients, and pulsate or chop until you have a paste, but do not liquify.

You can then use a paintbrush to apply the paste to whatever surface you'd like. Mist it with some water.

"I did that on Martha Stewart's (television) show, and she was pretty impressed," Cullina said.

Or you can collect moss and mince it up in a blender to create a paste you can then spread on rocks, walls, logs -- really, any place you think a patch of moss might look pretty.

For the paste, Cullina uses two cups of moss to about two cups of water and a half-cup of beer, plus about a teaspoon of polyacrylate crystals. The last ingredient is used in potting soil and can be found at nurseries. It is also found as crystals in disposable diapers, as an absorbing agent.

(See the full moss paste recipe on Page G1.)

Once he's blended the ingredients to a thick paste, Cullina just spreads it to wherever he wants it to grow.

"It's great to use between the stones or bricks in a walkway or patio, or on a flat or slanted surface, but not vertical because it will eventually slide off," Cullina said. "Once you paint the moss paste on, just slightly mist it once in a while."

And then, voila – you have homemade moss growing wherever you want.

 

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

rrouthier@pressherald.com

 

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