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Help with Growing Moss and Lichen

Discussion in 'Live Plants' started by LawnShrimp, Feb 5, 2017.

  1. LawnShrimp

    LawnShrimp Arachnoangel Active Member

    As good with inverts and complex plants as I am, I somehow fail at growing moss and lichen every way possible. I love the look of fluffy green moss, and to see a centipede or scorpion curl up and rest its head on a clump of lush moss would look amazing. But my attempts at moss often fail. I have heard that blending moss and lichen with water and buttermilk/kefir/yogurt or some other dairy product, but several other sources state that this does not work and all you get is mold.
    I found several patches of acrocarpous moss near my home, and planted it in a tank, watering it every day (not waterlogged). I haven't noticed any growth in about a month. It is winter, and I know moss grows slowly, but do I need to do anything else?

    I do have a tank with several lichen-covered logs in it and some tufts of reindeer lichen (Cladonia), but all the lichen near the ground rots into white and orange flakes. The reindeer lichen has not attached to the ground (I found it uprooted), nor has any of the lichen spread.

    Much of the information I've found online is misleading and contradictory. I would appreciate if a more experienced member could instruct me on how to grow a nice moss cover.

    Sources I read: http://www.mossandstonegardens.com/blog/how-to-grow-moss/
  2. Jpeg

    Jpeg Arachnopeon

    I used to grow moss emersed for aquariums. I always chopped it up into something of a fine paste with water then spread that where I wanted it to grow. Never used yogurt, I heard bad things about that as well. If it's kept from drying out and is decently lit there should be growth in 1-2 months.

    I have no idea how to propagate lichen. I have heard it is tricky. They grow very much more slowly than even moss.
    • Helpful Helpful x 1
  3. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    Lichen is an entirely different animal. Or rather a symbiotic union of bacteria and algae. It is a world unto itself and normally cannot be cultivated using methods used for plants.
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    • Informative Informative x 1
  4. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    The other thing with lichen is it often grows at a rate of something like 1mm/year, although reindeer moss should be much faster (but not fast, necessarily). I've usually seen reindeer moss growing on wood, and it has a kind of foot that it spears into the wood to keep itself in place. However, I will say that it seems to often grow in the ground as well...

    What kind of lighting are you using? What environment was the moss growing in? I assume you found the lichens in a forest, given that they were on logs. If you like, I'd be happy to ask an academic contact I have about how to grow lichens (she's a lichenologist and has grown them in terraria before).
    • Helpful Helpful x 1
  5. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    Right. Go get a dissertation from an Lichenologist and get it typed up here before your brain melts from over-exposure. Maybe start it's own thread for future reference. It's such an obscure and weird field there really is nothing to compare it to. A true bridge between the biology and botany that makes up it's own rules as it goes..
    • Like Like x 2
  6. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    Could we have some pictures of the lichen on the logs? An ID would be nice before I say anything at all.
  7. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    So I asked that person about lichens, and she said she never grew them...and that they're almost impossible to grow in a terrarium. Apologies. (If anyone wants information on lichen systematics, I'm sure she would know).

    I can't easily give advice, other than that I would guess that kefir and things like it are unlikely to be helpful because one of the primary sources of nutrition in them is lactose, which it's likely that the lichens can't easily digest. You might try orchid fertilizer--orchids and lichens (and mosses, depending on where they were growing) have similarly nutrient poor environments. One of the most important things is to make sure your substrates are the same as the ones you found everything on--lichens are extremely substrate specific, and I think mosses can be too. I would suggest some kind of fertilizer--otherwise, even if your mosses and lichens (especially lichens) are doing wonderfully well, they'll naturally grow about 1mm per year. If you fertilize, just be careful about the quantity, or your mosses and lichens could be burned.

    I assume you have some kind of supplemental lighting; if not, you should probably get some. In addition, I wish you a solid helping of luck--you'll probably need it. If you don't manage to grow these, it says very little about your ability; if you do, I would love to know what ends up making you successful. Moss should generally be easier, although it would be helpful to know what you have, and again, where it was growing (I assume the ground, but where?). I have had luck with moss, though, by accident: I have a patch of sphagnum growing with my sundew, and I didn't even try to put it there. Now of course, sphagnum naturally grows with carnivorous plants, so I'm sure that helped. But the point is that it can happen.
  8. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    I'd like the Lichenologist to weigh in here.

    As I see it, normal plants have an envelope of soil and climate. The better it fits, the better it grows. Simplified, environment plus plant equals result: x+y=z.
    With Lichen, it is not a plant nor is it an animal. It is a cooperative of the two and how they interact and are adapted to each other and the environment. IE, roughly (var1)+(var2)/(var1)+(var2)=z where neither variable gets assigned without the other variable having a say in things. Simple math just took a small leap towards quantum calculations.
    Over to the Lichenologists out there.
  9. Ranitomeya

    Ranitomeya Arachnoknight

    Most mosses require very good lighting to survive. Some are capable of handling lower light conditions, but they tend to grow poorly and become more susceptible to death in less than ideal conditions. Take many of the popular varieties of moss grown in aquaria. Many species will survive in poor lighting, but grow long and spindly instead of looking bushy and vibrant like they would in optimal lighting. Many either end up looking messy and undesirable or eventually die off as they are overtaken by algae that are able to outcompete them in lower lighting conditions.

    Most kinds of lichen grow very, very slowly, so don't expect to see any change for a very long time. Some varieties of lichen do not do well anywhere the water or air is polluted and you can use them as an indicator of environmental health. You'll want to water them with pure water that is free of metals and salts. In addition, they tend not to appreciate poor airflow and tend to be attacked by molds if kept in a terrarium. The fungal participant in lichen collect water, minerals, and nitrogen from the environment and the algal or cyanobacteria participant photosynthesizes to produce sugar. You have to keep conditions right for both organisms in order to keep the whole alive.
    • Informative Informative x 2
  10. LawnShrimp

    LawnShrimp Arachnoangel Active Member

    Sorry for the late reply; here are some photos of my moss.

    I've discovered that the light-green, lawn-like moss I have is Weissia sp.
    There is also a fluffy green moss that crisps up into curls when dry.
    I also have a dark green acrocarp:
    And the reindeer moss, with some lichens I found growing on the ground next to liverworts.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. LawnShrimp

    LawnShrimp Arachnoangel Active Member

    In the first photo you can see that the Weissia is growing protonemata around the colony's edges. (Slight green fuzz near the middle left)

    I agree with all of you that lichen should be left to grow alone. It looks nice, but has distinct differences from moss. <sigh>
  12. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    Nice job getting the Weissia to grow protnemata--that's definitely a good sign.

    Everything else isn't dead or dying, so that's got to be some kind of success. Patience is definitely going to be key with these.
  13. I love what you've got going there. I'd like to try some myself. All I know about lichen came from here; download.jpg
  14. LawnShrimp

    LawnShrimp Arachnoangel Active Member

  15. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    An excellent textbook on the group, to be sure :p