Watering Moss Terrariums

Reader Questions


Dear Moss And Stone Gardens,

Hi! Let me just say, I’m a huge fan of your blog. Keep up the wonderful work!

Anyway, I have a question about tap water. I have three moss terrariums (all open) and I have been watering for a few weeks with tap water. The moss kept getting progressively browner because my tap water is apparently moderately ‘hard.’ But after some research, I’m starting to collect rainwater and I might even go buy some distilled water.However, will the moss that is already slightly brown bounce back from the damage once I start watering with rainwater/distilled, or should I harvest new moss?

Thanks in advance!


Dear Lauren,

Lauren, there are several factors that could effect my advice, what species you are working with and what you mean by brown.

If the species are pleurocarp, then chances of recovery in your terrarium are fair. If the species are acrocarps, to regenerate, they will need the help of Mother Nature.  To do so,  return to the earth for about three months.

If the color brown is dark brown, then too little light or too much moisture is the cause, if pale brown or tan your likely to have too much light or stress from impurities in the water.

You may want to see the post Knowing your acrocarp from your pleurocarp to help determine which type you are dealing with.

It is important to know that not many mosses will survive indoors for long and despite excellent care, they may be doomed. Bringing mosses in for a visit is a better over-all approach to indoor moss gardening than attempting a long term stabile artificial ecosystem.

As for the water source, rainwater is superior to distilled, a better type of bottled water is one filtered by reverse osmosis, which removes chemicals but not trace elements. 

Moss And Stone Gardens




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