How To Grow Moss In A Container | Safe & Unsafe Materials

how to grow moss in a container

Choosing the right container for growing moss is essential for success. Some containers will contaminate the moss from spreading. Below is a guide on choosing the right container for growing moss.


Even though mosses don’t have a root system to draw nutrients or liquids from substrates they are growing on, they are still capable of conduction.

This means that direct contact with moisture, which is also in contact with a substrate or material, can transmit dissolved particles to the moss. One of the things mosses are sensitive to is heavy metals and some chemicals.

What Is Safe To Use?

It’s best to stay on the safe side and use one of the following materials for growing moss in a container.

You can use;

  • plastics;
  • ceramics;
  • seasoned concrete;
  • stone;
  • wood;
  • fabric, or;
  • glass.
moss terrarium
A moss terrarium of glass

Glass is most often used as a container for growing moss. This is called a moss terrarium and is a micro-ecosystem.

TIP: Are you looking for moss to grow in a container or a terrarium? You can buy it here.

What Is Unsafe To Use?

Some materials are unsafe to use for growing moss in a container. Some materials will kill the moss, and others will stop it from spreading.

You shouldn’t use;

  • galvanized metals;
  • zinc plated metals;
  • copper;
  • pressure treated lumber, or;
  • chemically unstable materials.

I have observed a healthy and spreading carpet of moss stop in its tracks as it approaches the drip line of a deck constructed with pressure-treated wood.

Some chromated copper arsenic will leach into the water and be dispersed when water comes into contact with the pressure-treated wood. This will negatively affect any moss in contact with this contaminated water.

copper moss container
A copper container is unsafe for growing moss

The same effect can be observed with other materials like zinc, which is attached in strips on roofs to retard moss growth.

I have also observed moss grow on top or over pressure-treated wood.  Admittedly it was always decades old pressure-treated wood and not new.

However, there is a difference in the moss being “upstream” from the contamination source; growing on top of pressure-treated wood is slightly different from growing beneath it.

To investigate further, mosses living on top of the soil in a pressure-treated planter will fair better than those planted at the foot of the same container. They are buffered by the soil and upstream from the water that contacts the pressure-treated wood.

Zinc Coated Container

It is also possible to have soil in a zinc-coated container with mosses growing on the soil, but there will certainly be a zone of peril where soil stops and zinc begins.

In a container using an inappropriate material for mosses, well-draining soil and drainage holes would be essential to keep the mosses downstream of contaminants.


Damage to mosses from zinc or pressure-treated wood may not be visible for weeks or more, depending on the species, water volume, and contamination levels. The metabolism rates of mosses are very slow, so visual evidence of damage takes time.

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