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Where to look for information on growing bryophytes

The BBS are occasionally asked for advice on growing bryophytes, whether for a garden, roof, moss sculpture etc. Whilst this topic is not really our subject, we can offer the following suggestions:

If you search the Internet you will find a few websites and books dedicated to this subject, although many are aimed at American readers. Probably the best known of these is Mossin’ Annie’s Mountain Moss, where you can find lots of advice and can even purchase moss for your garden (probably only practical if you live in the US).

Most libraries will also have books about Japanese gardens, in which mosses are a significant feature.

However you can make a good start by downloading Michael Fletcher’s Moss Grower’s Handbook. This book was written to document the author’s first hand experience of growing bryophytes both indoors and outdoors, and contains an absolute wealth of practical information. Michael maintained a large moss collection over many years, containing some of the most rare and threatened species in the UK (collected under license). Although not specifically aimed at moss gardening, it does contain a lot of useful tips – and if you are interested in growing moss indoors, perhaps just to develop capsules so that you can identify a specimen, then this is the book for you.

Notes on collecting

The BBS does not recommend that you go out into your local woods and countryside and collect moss – as with all wild plants, you must have the permission of the landowner before you can take them. Also, you need a basic understanding of which species are common and which are rare to avoid causing ecological havoc. To get round this, we would recommend the BBS’s own field guide – Mosses and Liverworts of Britain and Ireland which can be purchased on the Field Guide page. More than this, we would highly recommend that you get in touch with your local BBS group and go out one of their meetings. You will find details on the Events page under the Local category, including local group organiser contact information and details of any planned meetings. They can advise you on which species are common and abundant and which it might be appropriate to take small quantities of to grow on (think ‘cuttings’ in common garden terms).

Published: 1 January 2021