Does Moss Need Soil? Detailed Guide

Do you ever wonder if moss needs soil to grow? As it turns out, the answer is no. Moss thrives in moist and shady areas without any help from soil.

When you add it to a garden bed with rich topsoil, it’ll stay green for months because of its ability to soak up water with its leaves.

There are many types of moss that can grow in all kinds of conditions, however, moss typically does well in shaded areas that have a lot of moisture.

If the conditions are just right moss can grow at a tremendous rate and are usually found in the most unlikely places. Moss is known to grow on things like rocks, roofs, lawns, and even patios and driveways.

To some people moss can be very annoying especially if it’s growing in places like your garden or driveway, but how does it do this? and does moss need soil?

Because moss is a non-vascular plant they do not need soil to survive, instead, they have what’s called a rhizoid multi-cell anchoring structure that’s used to climb and grip over rocky surfaces.

Now, that’s not to say you can’t grow moss in the soil, of course, you can! what we are saying is unlike vascular plants that need soil to survive moss does not.

To explain this in more detail lets first talk about the reasons why moss can grow and survive without soil.

Can Moss Grow Without Soil?

Unlike most plants that contain a root system to constantly provide the stems and leaves with water and dissolved minerals, moss has an external anatomy which means it doesn’t need to planted in the soil to grow and flourish.

Not only is moss very resilient, but it can survive in the most unlikely places.

Moss tends to grow near the ground, where there’s plenty of moisture for its external structures to absorb. Anywhere that has water gathers, is a suitable place for it to thrive.

If your looking to grow to moss the best time to do this is in the early spring when the sun is lower. This is also a good time for the moss to absorb plenty of minerals from the winter rain.

The easiest way to grow moss is to look for a patch growing in the wild, if your unsure of any places that may have moss you can purchase several varieties at your local garden store.

When growing your moss you should always make sure the area is kept free of weeds and other plants and place it on a damp landscape that’s near a water source for the best results.

“You don’t need to plant moss in the ground as it doesn’t require soil to grow” long as the area is damp the moss will have no problem growing.

Anchoring Structures

When moss grows it uses anchoring structures to climb across rough terrain. These structures have thin root-like growths called rhizoids that look very similar to root hairs of vascular land plants.

Mosses are able to absorb water and nutrients by photosynthesis through their leaves which are connected to the anchoring structures and does not require to be rooted in the ground.

Vascular plants have roots that grow downwards and need soil to provide support, nutrients, and water, to grow and stay healthy. “But” moss on the other hand has anchoring structures (rhizoids) that grow upwards (externally)

However, because mosses contain no roots it can dry out very quickly, this is why it’s usually found in moist habits and also explains why moss does not need soil to survive.

Related Article

moss on top of soil


There are two types of plants there are vascular and non-vascular. Plants that contain roots are called vascular plants and need to be planted in soil.

Yet, plants that are non-vascular means they have no vascular system and do not need to be planted in soil.

A plant’s vascular system consists of xylem and phloem, non-vascular plants basically lack these particular tissues, and although moss may appear to be a weed it’s actually classed as a non-vascular plant.

Vascular plants are also known for bearing flowers, green leaves, stems, roots, and branches. Non-vascular plants on the other hand do not have these features and are mostly non-flowering plants like mosses, liverworts, or hornworts.

Can You Put Moss On Top Of Soil?

Moss can grow in the most unlikley places and this including lawns and as we know lawns are bassiclly soil with grass yet moss is able to reproduce and grow simply by just laying on top of the grass.

So can you put moss on top of soil? Yes you can! in the same way moss is able to grow on grass, “but again” the conditions need to be right.

Just remember that moss has no roots so there no need to plant it. As long as the conditions are suitable that moss will have no problem growing.

What Soil Is Best For Moss?

If you want to grow your own moss and are wondering what type of soil is best? it, not the soil you should be concerned more about the surrounding conditions.

Moss will grow happily in acidic soil, and alkaline type soil “but” as mentioned in this article moss doesn’t require to be planted or needs any soil to grow.

Moss is a type of plant that grows best in spots that are damp and slightly shaded, however with that said areas that are too wet or too shaded can actually do more are than good.

Soil that is too compacted is also another important factor, as the soil will have a lack of air which is one of the key things mosses need to be able to thrive.

Final Thoughts

In the end, if your thinking about growing your own moss your better off just simply placing it in a damp area and let nature do its work.

The best place to get moss (if you don’t have any) are usually in the Forrest and because moss has spores all you need to do is take a small patch, place it in your garden, (again anyway that’s damp) and wait.

The best time to grow your moss is in the early spring where the ground conditions are still wet. trying this in the summer heat will be more challenging.

If you want to know more about moss don’t forget to check out our other article where we go into more detail, you can do this at the navigation menu top of this page.

Scroll to Top