Moss house number news: Transplantation successful!


A short recap of the project so far: Last autumn, Pinterest brought me the idea of moss graffiti, and I wanted to try this in the form of a moss house humber since our house was numberless. So I mixed a moss paste as per the instructions and applied it to the wall (see house number post #01), then patched it up some more the day after that. In the following days I found the paste to dry out very quickly (see house number post #02), and I’m still unsure whether the plastering on that wall is moss-friendly at all. I didn’t water it too well after three weeks or so had passed, and it remained a dry organic five-shaped mass on the wall all through winter until last Friday, when I finally got the ladder out again.

This time I used a different approach which, funnily enough, I’d thought of myself and then a few days later Pinterest brought to me as well in the form of an article on how to collect and transplant moss. Since the paste hasn’t really ever done anything except stick to that wall, I felt that transplantation might be more successful, especially since the residing paste would probably make a good foundation for moss roots. So I did the following steps:

  • I carefully collected patches of moss. I aimed for pleurocarps after reading that article, but I’m not too sure what I actually got. In the end I took what I found, and what came off easily.
  • I wetted the old paste on the wall thoroughly with water and a drop of milk (remembering the buttermilk in the original recipe).
  • I then smeared some treacle sirup that I had sitting around in the kitchen onto the wet paste, thinking that it might provide some nourishment to the moss but also that it would surely help stick it on. I personally feel that was a stroke of genius so far.
  • And finally I stuck my moss patches onto that quite randomly, just by how I felt it looked nice.

I left a few small bare patches, simply because I ran out of moss and treacle for the corners, thinking that I would first wait to see whether a) it would stay put and b) it would grow and thrive. I’m also very glad that I had not managed to clean that wall yet (I have that high pressure thingy here already but need some adapters for our taps) because of course I made another big mess all over that wall. Gravity, you eternal adversary. Besides, I had left the masking tape on over the winter and only then took it off, and it had collected quite a bit of dirt as well.

Ok, let’s show you some pictures now:

the perfect source for moss: an overgrown paththe number as it was, a little patchy from wearup close: a dry messmy toolbox, so to speak (the sticks were for the hugelkultur)wet and sticky, mmmmmhmasking tape gone, two thirds done with the biggest patchesDone! Some tiny bits are still mossless, but this totally rocks already!

Of course it’ll be another two weeks or so before anyone can say for sure how the moss has taken to its new home, but I’m massively pleased with the results already. Once again I’ll tell you more in a few weeks!

What I’ve learnt so far

  1. Take off that masking tape right away, or at least after a few days when you’re sure the number is holding its shape.
  2. When transplating to a wall (or other gravity-afflicted surface), don’t bother taking moss from a meadow – you’ll get too much heavy soil attached that doesn’t come loose easily. Find a nice overgrown pathway: the moss can be lifted off perfectly with a spatula, and it’s light enough to stick to a wall.
  3. In general, I feel that transplanting makes more sense than using a moss paste. Even if the latter works, it’ll likely take longer to become established, and until then it looks a brownish, soggy mess.
  4. Oh, and of course: While looking for moss I really came to appreciate the many, many different kinds there are, and some are exceptionally beautiful! That really was a nice moss walk I took. I loved one especially which I found growing on bark mostly and was almost impossible to lift off. It might be called “star moss” in German, because that’s exactly what it looks like. (However, I just looked it up on Wikipedia and I think it’s not the one.)

If it doesn’t work out this time, I have one more idea to try (a passer-by while I was spraying the moss told me): I should think it’s probably the plastering that inhibits moss growth. Since this house will be taken down anyway in a few years, I might chip off the plastering in the shape of a five, down to where there should be brick. Judging from the Pinterest moss graffitis, moss grows fabulously on brick. But I hope I don’t have to resort to that! :-)

And finally: my SO’s only comment upon my happy presentation of the results was, “Couldn’t you find enough of one kind?” – “I could have, but didn’t want to.” – “Well, it would have helped readability.” Sigh…