Unlike regular moss, ball moss is not a harmless plant. Ball moss is actually a bromeliad, distantly related to both Spanish moss and pineapple. Ball moss grows well in high humidity, low light and limited air circulation, which are conditions found in the canopy of many southern shade trees. Although ball moss is not directly harmful to a tree because it does not steal the tree’s nutrients, it may cause stress to the tree by smothering new buds that grow amongst the branches. Fortunately, several methods exist to control ball moss.
Observe neighboring trees for signs of ball moss. Since ball moss spreads through wind-borne seeds, you may need to kill ball moss in numerous trees to prevent it from coming back.
Climb the tree using a ladder and pull ball moss off the branches with your hands. Put ball moss into a plastic trash bag to prevent seeds escaping, and discard.
Thin your tree’s canopy by pruning dead interior branches where foliage does not grow. This removes the habitat where ball moss grows, and allows more sunlight into the canopy.
Purchase an EPA-approved fungicide such as Kocide DF, Blue Shield or Champion to spray ball moss.
Mix fungicide according to package directions and pour into a spray applicator. Climb tree using a ladder and spray directly onto ball moss.