Many types of mosses and lichens, including the deer moss that flourishes on cedar trees, are prized for their use in the craft and floral trade. Moss, lichen, cones and evergreen branches are used in wreaths, hanging baskets, planters and floral displays.
Moss for floral and craft usage has grown to a $175 million dollar industry, mainly in the Appalachian Mountains and the Pacific Northwest, according to Science Daily (see References).
Prepare A Business Plan
Determine your marketplace. Contact both wholesale and retail florists in your area to determine if they will purchase your product.
Research state and federal rules for gathering moss and apply for necessary permits. Contact your state extension office and the U.S. Forest Service for regulations and restrictions.
Evaluate moss, lichen and bark availability.
Compute retrieval costs including labor, fuel, permits, advertising and shipping.
Secure required permits for state and federal lands. Enter into contractual agreements with private landowners.
Price your products. Will you include packaging, shipping and delivery?
Prepare online and print advertisements.
Find mosses in areas of dampness and low light. Moss is common in most wooded areas and at the edges of streams, ponds and rivers. Moss grows by attaching itself to rocks and trees.
Study your moss resource. Know how fast it regrows and how much can be safely removed to maintain a sustainable supply. Be aware of any endangered species of moss in your removal area and which sensitive habitats should be avoided to prevent damage to the forest. Protect the forest. Be careful where you step when gathering moss as not to damage future growth.
Gather moss in small amounts from each area. Do not remove all the moss from a tree, stump or rock. Leave at least half of the moss so that it can grow again. Peel the moss away from it's host carefully. Florists prefer moss to be in as large pieces as possible.
Place moss in plastic garbage bags or airtight containers.
Fumigate the moss with an eco-friendly bug killer to eliminate parasites and pests prior to shipping. Seal the container for transport.
Things You Will Need
- Garden pruning shears
- Garden trowel
- Plastic pails
- Plastic garbage bags
- Insect repellent
- Apply insect repellent prior to entering the forest. Moss contains many insects including ticks. Be aware and protect yourself from exposure to their bites.
- Use garden gloves when gathering moss. Many people with sensitive skin will have a reaction to handling moss with their bare hands.