Club Moss (Selaginella kraussiana)

Club moss (Selaginella kraussiana) is a common moss that adapts extremely well as a vivarium plant. This fast-growing, ground covering moss loves moist conditions and is relatively easy to care for. The hardiness of club moss is fairly high on the durable meter… Making it an ideal candidate for rugged inhabitants that like to play hard on their environment.

Quick Stats:

Scientific Name: Selaginella kraussiana

Family: Lycopodiaceae

Common Names: Club moss, Spike moss, Golden moss, African club moss

Habitat: Damp, Woodlands

Height: 8 inches tall

PH Range: 6.0 to 6.8

Temperature: 42°F to 70°F

What Is Club Moss?

Club moss, scientifically known as Selaginella kraussiana, belongs to the Lycopodiaceae family of vascular plants. Selaginella is made up of over 300 different types of species but this article will cover the Kraussiana species. Kraussiana is commonly referred to as club moss because of its unique branching style. This plant is great for a carpeting flora in terrain-based enclosures because of its rapid growth outward… Easily covering the soil in a relatively short amount of time.

Club Moss Selaginella kraussiana care guide

Club Moss Facts

Club moss is also referred to as Spike moss, Golden moss, and African club moss by many in the hobby. Despite this plant being named a moss, it is in fact not a true moss. Selaginella, in general, is a close cousin to the fern family even though it doesn’t really get classified as a true fern either. The similarities in caretaking, as well as benefits to the vivarium, are why I’ve decided to list it alongside the moss and liverwort groups. This plant will easily do well in an enclosure that coexists with other moss due to its requirements.

Description

Club moss is a dense mat-forming plant that grows outwards instead of upwards. It generally doesn’t grow taller than about 2 inches making it great for terrariums of all sizes. Selaginella will range in color from various shades of green with or without frost tips, depending on the exact species. The leaves that sprout from its branches have an oval, prehistoric, fern-like appearance. Unlike true mosses, this flora has a traditional root structure and will often sprout roots from stems that venture far from its base.

Habitat

Club moss is a primitive plant whose origin originates in the mainlands of Africa. Being an invasive plant, it can often be found in parts of the United Kingdom, Ireland as well as New Zealand due to unnatural cultivation. The natural habitat Club moss thrives in is damp, shaded forest or woodland type environments. Being a hardy plant, this Selaginella species can survive in temperatures as low as the 40s but prefers to be in the 70 degrees Fahrenheit range.

PH Preference

Like many mosses, Club moss does well in acidic or neutral soils. A safe PH range for this plant will be around 6.5 marks. Anything above 7.0 should be brought down immediately, furthermore, the more acidic the better.

Vivarium Type

Club moss will require high humidity type environments with a well-drained substrate. Avoid vivarium types that consist of mostly water to prevent roots from oversaturating in water. When deciding on a vivarium to place this plant in, be sure there is plenty of land area for the foliage to comfortably establish itself in. Here are recommended vivariums club moss will do well in:

  • Paludariums – Half aquatic/ half terrain-based enclosure.
  • Terrariums – Fully terrain-based enclosure with little to no aquatic features.

Vivarium Placement

Club moss is a terrestrial-based plant. It will not do well partially submerged or fully placed underwater. However, it does thrive in a moderately damp, well-drained substrate. Place this plant on the foreground of the vivarium floor between rocks around the base of plants. It will help retain moisture within the substrate and provide coverage for small insects like the cleanup crew. This type of plant will spread quickly across the soil, so it is ideal for anyone looking to cover open areas of ground real estate.

Substrate

Being that club moss has a moderately deep rooting system, it will require a couple of inches of loose soil. The ideal substrate should consist of nutrient-rich soil like coco fiber and peat moss. The ground area should also be kept damp the majority of the time with a drainage feature that allows excess water to pass through completely, preventing root rot.

Lighting

When trying to mimic the natural environment of Selaginella kraussiana, the right amount of lighting will be key to completing the habitat. Since club moss thrives in shaded areas of the African forest, a cool blue stream of daylight will be what is replicated here. Bright artificial lighting will be recommended for this type of scene. Avoid any type of sunlight, rather it is direct or indirect. We want full control over the amount of light comes into contact with this plant. Providing an enclosure with artificial light will also help unwanted fluctuation in temperature. If any type of light that produces UV rays are added to the tank, make sure it is blocked out by other types of foliage better equipped to handle that type of lighting.

Buy Club Moss

When shopping for possible club moss for sale, expect a few key indicators you are buying the best quality plant. The plant should be snail free along with any other type of pest. The source of Selaginella will usually be sold in small tissue cultures, ready for you to propagate. The batch should arrive fairly moist and in fairly good shape. Click the image below to find out more about the current price and other relative info:

Club Moss Care and Propagation

Selaginella kraussiana, are root dependent plants that grow outwards. Proper hydration and lighting will be essential to the development of this fern-like plant. Be generous with acidic to neutral PH water and propagation should quickly take its course with Selaginella. When first moving this plant into a new location, don’t stress too much when you see signs of transplant shock. Browning is inevitable at the beginning of this plant establishing and it should quickly bounce back once settled in.

How to grow

Regardless if you are starting with a new culture or would like to split up an existing mat of club moss, the steps are essentially the same. Split the plant at its stem and place it at least an inch into healthy soil. Even if there are not any roots present, selaginella will begin regrowing new roots and should begin creeping branches outward from its original placing. Remember to keep the soil damp at all times to assure the plant’s regrowth.

Watering

Watering should be pretty predictable at this point. Keep the soil damp at all times of the day with low PH water or even slightly neutral water. If the drainage is properly engaged, the soil should have no standing water allowing generous amounts of water to be added at a time. A misting system can be added to alleviate the constant watering needs this plant will demand. Be careful not to overwater club moss either… You do not want a saturated substrate, just damp enough soil to keep the flora happy.

Plants Similar To Club Moss

Adding diversity to an enclosure is key to an aesthetically pleasing enclosure. Try mixing up the look of your vivarium with different flora that can easily co-exist in the same types of environment. Furthermore, if for some reason you find club moss hard to acquire or would like to consider something similar to this plant… Here are some other plants you might find may do well with or in the place of Selaginella kraussiana:

Flame Moss Taxiphyllum sp
Crystalwort Riccia Fluitans
Taiwan Moss (Taxiphyllum Alternans)

Conclusion

When it comes to the overall caretaking of club moss, I would place this plant in the easy-care level. It is a pretty hardy plant that doesn’t require a high volume of light. Selaginella is a perfect foreground plant for an enthusiast to add to any terrarium. For the most part, its strong enough for inhabitants to coexist with and safe to have in a vivarium. I would recommend adding this creeping mat to forest or woodland type enclosures that have high levels of humidity. For those looking to spruce up an existing tropical-themed tank, might find this plant suitable as well!

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