Sheet moss (Hypnum Cupresiforme) is by far one of the most popular carpeting mosses to use in the vivarium hobby. The methods of growing this plant as well as availability have made it a household plant to use in a number of projects even outside of just vivarium decoration. Even though many are probably more familiar with the preserved version of this plant, this article will provide an in-depth understanding of the living version of sheet moss.
What Is Sheet Moss?
In modern times, the term “sheet moss” is loosely used to identify any form of pleurocarpous land moss. In a more appropriate usage, the term is usually used to refer bryophytes of the specific genus, hypnum. To correctly identify sheet moss for easy acquirement and understanding, Hypnum Cupresiforme would be the exact species of moss being identified when we refer to sheet moss in today’s post. Hypnum is a very desired species of moss because of its hardiness and infamous carpeting capabilities. This evergreen lawn-like plant has limitless potential as a vivarium plant and for good reason, that will be further discussed.
Sheet Moss Facts
Other than Sheet moss, Hypnum Cupresiforme is also known to be called Hypnum moss, and Cypress-leaved plaitmoss. At one time, this moss was used as a pillowcase and mattress fillings, that’s where the word Hypnum originated from. Hypnum being a play from the Greek word Hypno, meaning sleep. The word sheet, on the other hand, obviously came from the fact that this moss grows into a very densely layered mat. Other more closely related uses for Cupresiforme, is in its preserved state for decoration in crafts and fairy gardens that mimic a living environment.
The Hypnum spp. in general have a very wheat grass look to them. The branches stem out to feathered leaves that almost look hand woven. Depending on the exact species of hypnum, those individual feathered stems will vary in appearance. For instance, Hypnum Curvifolium has curved branches, giving it a more curly hair-like look from a distance. Hypnum Cupresiforme, on the other hand, has a more ereck style branching, giving this version of hypnum a more cypress tree look at first glance. With this genus of moss growing in an outward direction, it typically will not grow taller than about 4 inches. Colors of this moss will range from dark green to yellowish-green depending on the condition of its living enviroinment.
Sheet moss can be found throughout the world, thriving in shaded areas where the soil is consistently damp. Besides the moist comfort of soil, this plant will often be found covering fallen branches on dead trees, stones/rocks, and will even grow vertically up living trees and concrete walls. The hardiness of sheet moss makes it a hard plant to kill and will even tolerate certain levels of polluted air in more densely populated areas. This moss can tolerate a wide range of temperature as well, from below freezing to high 90’s for a period of time. Ideal temperatures should be kept between low 60’s to mid 70’s.
Sheet moss tends to prefer to be on the more acidic side of potential hydrogen. In the wild, this plant is often found on very acidic substrates surfaces. Ideal PH levels will be in a range of 5.0 to 6.5 but this moss will easily tolerate more neutral levels around 7.
This type of moss will do great in a variety of vivarium types. When deciding if rather or not to use sheet moss in a particular type of enclosure, Be sure to go with setups that have dry terrain areas. Here are recommended vivariums mood moss will do well in:
- Paludariums – Half aquatic/ half terrain based enclosure.
- Ripariums – Mostly aquatic based enclosure with some terrain features present.
- Terrariums – Fully terrain based enclosure with little to no aquatic features.
This moss is a terrestrial based plant. It will not do well partially submerged or fully placed under water. However, it does thrive in a moderately damp, well-drained substrate. Place this plant on the foreground of the vivarium floor over just about any type of surface and moss will spread once established. Applying sheet moss vertically to backgrounds or branches will also be a good placement for this moss as it has no problem quickly attaching itself to any type of sturdy material.
Sheet moss can grow on a number of surfaces due to its unique way of absorbing nutrients and strong latching rooting system. In the wild, this plant is typically found on damp soils and stones. The substrate or surface used just needs to have some type of drainage allowing excess water to run off or through the medium. wood, sand, and dead litter are also sufficient textures sheet moss can easily spread over.
The woodland environment Hypnum Cupresiforme adapts best to provides a sanctuary of shade. Exposing this plant to direct sun will dry this moss out quickly. When setting up lighting within the vivarium for this moss, a high level of brightness would be ideal since the plant is indoors. Avoid placing enclosure near indirect sunlight and preferably away from any type of artificial light that produces UV. Aim for cooler color lights that mimic a cloudy day or shaded forest.
Buy Sheet Moss
When shopping for live sheet moss, expect a few key indicators you are buying the best quality plant. The moss should be snail free along with any other type of pest. The source of moss will usually be sold in small tissue cultures, ready for you to propagate. The batch should arrive fairly moist and in fairly good shape. Being a very durable plant, if moss is received in poor state… Placing moss in an ideal location should allow spores to propagate and bring moss back to life. Click the image below to find out more about the current price and other relative info:
Sheet Moss Care and Propagation
Hypnum sp. if given proper care, are a very easy moss to manage and grow. When propagated correctly, it will sprout small stems with spores on the tips that blow off and allow new mounds to begin growing. If possible, try to avoid loose textured surfaces like sand or fluffy soil because it is more difficult for moss to latch on and establish itself properly.
How to grow
There are two popular ways to grow sheet moss, it is either through the process of division or the process of grind and spread. Dividing an existing culture will grant faster results as far as immediate placement. Blending the moss with water or buttermilk into a paste will take more time to establish but might warrent a more controlled look over the long run. Depending on personal preference and if rather or not pets currently inhabit the tank will b ethe deciding factor between which way a hobbyist will grow sheet moss in an enclosure. Use low ph water and moderate lighting to encourage growth and once acclimated, cut back on the amount of water given.
The best case watering scenario for sheet moss would be to water when it appears dry. Allow the moss itself to dry out completely while only keeping the soil it sits on moist. This is a plant that does not do well in constant moisture. If using a mister or fogger, sheet moss should spend the majority of the day dry with plenty of air flow.
Allowing sheet moss to dry out periodically will help prevent rotting and mold build up. This type of moss is a moderate grower due to its pleurocarpous growth pattern. Even though it is a faster growing bryophyte, it still needs time to breathe and absorb nutrients received through watering.
Plants Similar To Sheet 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 this 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 Hypnum cupressiforme:
This article should illustrate a number of reasons why it is so popular within the hobby today. It is a very forgiving moss to have and extremely easy to propagate and control. Adding Hypnum to any rain forest type setup will quickly give the vivarium a seasoned and aged look. If you are a first time vivarium enthusiast building a paludarium, riparium or even a damp terrarium, I’d strongly recommend you start out with this moss before attempting to work with any of the other types of bryophytes. furthermore, when goingto purchase this moss for the first time, be wary of preserved or dyed versions of this moss. Live sheet moss will be free of any chemicals and easily grow in thriving envirionments.