How to Make Sphagnum Peat Moss

Overview

Sphagnum moss is a small moss plant that grows in bogs all over northern Europe, Australia, and many other countries where standing water is abundant. It has become important for its use as a soil amendment since it has the capacity to hold more that 20 times its weight in water, although it has been used for centuries as a source of burnable fuel. It is not easily cultivated in a private setting since its natural habitat is almost impossible to duplicate. For biological studies, sphagnum peat moss can be made in a tightly controlled setting.

Step 1

Set the air temperature in your greenhouse to run between 70 to 75 degrees constantly. You will be growing the green plant but it is actually the older plant matter sitting at the bottom decaying that actually forms what is called the peat moss. It needs to be warm enough for decomposition to happen.

Step 2

Spread your plant material in the plastic seed trays. It does not need soil to grow, so you can spread the matter thinly. It is best to do this in the spring when the spores are being dispersed, but it will reproduce without spores.

Step 3

Set up your watering system so it sprays the trays every 20 minutes for 20-second intervals. The water used cannot be ordinary tap water unless your water source is not chlorinated. Rain water is preferable for its calcium and mineral content.

Step 4

Set up your lighting arrangement so the sphagnum plants are getting a limited amount of light. You will be imitating the sunlight of northern Europe and Canada where the sun is almost never directly overhead.

Step 5

Allow the plants to grow and form a thick mat. Expect to grow it for at least six or seven months before any sizable mat will form. Cut out sections and let dry to harvest the sphagnum peat moss.

Things You'll Need

  • Sphagnum plant matter
  • Greenhouse
  • Plastic seed trays
  • Timed water spray system
  • Controlled light and temperature system

References

  • Sphagnum Cristatum - Growing Native Plants
  • Sphagnum - Peat Moss
Keywords: sphagnum peat moss, garden soil, greenhouse

About this Author

Based in Maryland, Heidi Braley, currently writes for local and online media outlets. Some of Braley's articles from the last 10 years are in the "Oley Newsletter," "Connections Magazine," GardenGuides and eHow.com. Braley's college life included Penn State University and Villanova University with her passions centered in nutrition and botany.