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When you buy dried/dehydrated, compacted bricks of sphagnum moss from gardening suppliers and stores, etc., is it supposed to be alive, and/or able to grow, upon rehydration? Or is it dead?


I bought some of this Brunnings brand, expanding sphagnum moss (not sure what species, possibly Sphagnum cristatum and/or Sphagnum subnitens), from the similarly named (but unrelated) Bunnings Warehouse. It is supposedly ★★★★★/AAA-grade New Zealand sphagnum: Brunnings Sphagnum Moss


I experimented with it in a bunch of different environments, including some living terrarium/vivarium type landscapes.

Basically, it looks like a sopping wet, dark brown/yellow, lifeless mess of decaying fern fronds and leaf litter, blending in the the soils and substrates, and eventually taking the shape of its container. I was expecting it to develop into a lush, living, upright, green blanket, or carpet of sorts; like this:

Sphagnum squarrosum Sphagnum squarrosum

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This product is primarily intended for use as a growing medium for particular plants such as Sarracenia/carnivorous ones, or for mixing in to other materials to create a particular potting mix to supposedly improve water retention, or, if you like the look of dead moss, topdressing some plant pots. Some bits of it may start growing again, but the bulk of it probably won't and isn't really intended to. I note the bag does not say whether it contains long fibre or milled sphagnum, if its actually sphagnum anyway, and I can't see the word 'sterilised' anywhere either, though more information may be on the back of the packaging.

Sphagnum moss is a largely non renewable resource, is primarily taken from peat bogs, and like peat, the harvesting of it is restricted or banned in some countries. More information on sphagnum here; note particularly the warning at the bottom of the page regarding Sporotrichosis http://www.sarracenia.com/faq/faq3240.html

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