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How to Care for Lichens

Stream in the wilderness
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Lichens are slow-growing organisms found in some of the most inhospitable places on earth but most commonly on woodland plants, rocks and soil. As such, a lichen makes a logical and interesting addition to a rock garden. Lichens are a combination of two plants, an alga and a fungus. These plants combine and form a symbiotic relationship, with each plant benefiting from the other. Lichens take years to grow and are very fragile, and they suffer from mishandling during collection. With proper care, a lichen will survive collection, allowing you to transplant and grow it in your own garden.

Mist a lichen with water to wet it thoroughly before collection. Wet lichens are easier to handle.

Break off a small piece of a lichen to collect it. Leave behind more lichen than you take. This allows the remaining lichen to repopulate.

Place the lichen in a paper bag to transport it to your garden or another site. Fold the top of the bag over to keep the lichen from drying out.

Put the lichen on a moist rock or log in your garden. Over time, the lichen will grow and spread across the rock.

Spray the rock and lichen with water several times per week. Lichens need moisture to grow.

Tip

Lichens grow only in areas of low pollution with clean air and water. If you take a lichen from a forest and try to grow it in the city, it will probably die.

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