Yamgoke vs Sphagnum for Topdressing

Has anyone tried using yamagoke (mountain moss) mixed with moss to create their topdressing? The yamagoke is already a grayish color and may not need to be colored. It is sold in bricks that can be screened to size, it doesn’t seem to impede water in any way and acts to stabilize the soil. It may not be quite as antiseptic as the NZ moss, but is that aspect really a requirement?

In California we use the Sphagnum because it is more available and cheaper. I have used yamagoke on azaleas and find it similar to sphagnum. Both can be used as long string or shredded and screened. I have started to use the mixed mosses as top dressing this year to see how it works. So far I can’t tell if it will take off and grow. Does anyone else have any experience with this yet?

Since I wasn’t getting any response, I decided to do some experimenting by mixing collected moss with both types of purchased moss to see how things go. Too early to offer any results yet. I think, at least here in the Midwest, that the yamagke may be cheaper.

vich1502, Checking back with you now that we are into almost July. Have you had any success growing your moss in either sphagnum or yamagoke? I have had no success getting any moss established in a mix of sphagnum and green moss. The moss started to grow, but within a month it had dried up and the whole layer turned gray and dry. I am in northern California and maybe it is just too dry to grow moss on a pot here.

I noticed on Ryan’s fertilizer post that most of the trees he showed outside were green with algae on a bed of long sphagnum moss. These ones did not seem to have beginnings of green moss coming up. Anybody else have experience growing moss?

I have successfully used Ryan’s technique for growing moss. I’m in NorCAL as well. 1/2” plywood with a piece of short/tight commercial carpet attached. Sprinkle top dressing mixture, (sifted sphagmun and ground dried live moss) place in a Northeast exposure where moss grows in your garden in filtered sun or under shade cloth, don’t make the mistake of keeping it too wet. Moss likes a balance of water and oxygen too.

Hi @MichaelM, I have had nearly zero luck with any moss growing technique. I’ve followed Ryan’s topdressing video to the letter with both yamagoke, and long New Zealand sphagnum mosses. I kept all of these separate, and made several batches with different mosses I have collected…some off the ground, some from the back side of a dam, and two from rocks and in what I would call full sun. So far only one seems to be even trying to grow(or multiply, or whatever moss does!). I’m back to placing small squares/pieces of moss directly on my substrate.

I have finally had success growing moss on top my pots using a variation on Ryan’s method. I live outside Spokane, WA and we have relatively hot (many days above 90F, 32C), dry summers. I soak white sphagnum and then die with Sumi Ink. It then goes into a food processor to chop it up - 3 to 4 short cycles of a few seconds does a good job. Then onto a screen to dry. Grate both the dried, died sphagnum and local dried moss through a 3 to the inch (8 mm? screen) and mix roughly 50/50. Place a top dressing of fine bonsai soil (1/16 - 1/8", 1 - 3 mm) on top the main soil and then the moss mixture. It gives a decent moss layer with my standard once a day watering. The key seems to be having a good layer of top dressing on top the soil. If there is not enough top dressing the moss tends to dry out before it becomes established.

I use the food processor to shred the long fiber moss since there is far less dust than grating it directly through a screen and even with the extra step is less labor intensive. I picked up a cheap food processor at the second hand store to keep my spouse happy by not using the one from the kitchen.


Hey, you yamagoke fans. I just watched Ryans post on Topdressing prep. (Thanks for the upgrade from tier 2 to Standard) It answers some of our questions. Yamagoke is more gray or you can dye your Sphagnum. Looks like both should be shredded and sifted to size. Mix them dried 50:50 on your first attempt. Place them lightly onto the top of newly repotted trees. That means you are putting them on during the winter or early spring. (Key point for me at least). That means the live moss gets to start growing early in the year with some dampness from the dry moss at each watering. It may take a full growing season for the moss to grow up successfully, but it starts on its own roots, so to speak.

My trials this last season were to add some acadama sand to the dried green moss top dressing and that helped the moss to take. Maybe one could add 25 percent acadama sand to the dried moss mix. That might help the take in some drier areas.