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Sphagnum moss comes from bogs and is harvested, compressed and imported for use in
the floral industry.
There are many graded levels of sphagnum moss. The quality of sphagnum moss is relative to the length of the
how fluffy each strand is, and how much debris is packaged in with the moss. Lower quality moss obviously costs
The sphagnum moss that is used by the floral
industry to line hanging baskets and package seedling plants for transport is typically of a much lower grade
than we would
choose for use as a moss to grow orchids in.
In the growing of orchids we are looking for top quality sphagnum moss with long, fluffy, open strands and good
capillary action for moisture. In Taiwan, the largest exporting country of Phalaenopsis orchids,
virtually all Phalaenopsis are grown in Sphagnum moss. In cooler climates and in cultivation in the home,
sphagnum moss can present
some challenges with over watering. The good news is, sphagnum moss as an orchid medium is highly adaptable.
Packed tightly in a pot it
will retain a lot of moisture. Packed lightly in a pot it will dry out rapidly. But here is where the quality of
the moss really comes in to
play. Standard floral-quality sphagnum moss, available from nurseries and box stores and even sometimes
advertised as 'moss for orchids' is often not suitable for growing orchids. Orchids grown in this lesser grade
of sphagnum moss
will not thrive as they could in a higher grade of moss as this moss compacts and quickly becomes sodden in all
but the most arid
For orchids we recommend AAA New Zealand
Sphagnum Moss or 5 Star Chilean Sphagnum Moss only. The quality AAA New Zealand Sphagnum Moss is higher, and
it is cleaner/fluffier. These two products will be labeled as such, the
lesser grades of sphagnum will often be labeled as 'moss for orchids', 'organic moss' or simply 'sphagnum moss'.
It is important to clarify the difference between sphagnum moss and sphagnum peat moss, also called just 'peat
Sphagnum peat moss is not the same thing as sphagnum moss. In a sphagnum bog the sphagnum moss is the living
moss that floats on the top of the bog. Sphagnum peat moss is the
dead moss that falls to the bottom of the bog. Upon harvesting, the top layer of live sphagnum moss is taken
first and then the bottom
layer of peat moss is harvested. Peat moss is then processed into a soil amendment that is also a media used
with orchids but
it is markedly different in appearance and texture. Much of the sphagnum moss and sphagnum peat moss we see here
in nurseries and big box stores comes from Canada.
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