Spanish moss believe it or not is related to the pineapple family. It is not a parasitic plant instead it is a perennial epiphytic herb. What does this mean? Well, what it really means is it gets its water and nutrients from the environment. This plant has no roots but it captures water and nutrients in its overlapping silver-gray scales, which cover its stems and leaves.
While you can order Spanish moss from extension offices in the south, another option can be to gather some from the wild or contact a nursery in the south. Once you have your sample, you will need to know how to properly care for it. “Planting” your Spanish moss outside is no problem and really does not require any additional care but…………if you want to grow it inside, there are few things you will need to know. These tips will help you grow Spanish moss successfully.
First, Spanish moss likes to be alone. What I mean by this is do not place plants near the Spanish moss. Also, do not hang anything in with the Spanish moss. If you do either or both, the area that touches the plant or hanging accessory will die.
Second, when you get your Spanish moss home you will need to hang it as straight as possible. Any area that is wrinkled will die.
Third, watch the light. Spanish moss loves to be in shade but can tolerate some filtered light.
Fourth, while the plant will depend on you for its water source, watch what you water the plant with. Avoid using tap water. The chlorine in the tap water will burn the plant. You can use filtered water but the best water to use is what Mother Nature provides and that is rain water.
Ok, I know what you are thinking now. How do you water a plant that has no roots? Well, one approach is to mist it. While this will work, it really is not enough for the plant. The best approach is to place a bucket under the Spanish moss and pour water from the top of it. Let the water run down the plant and into the bucket. Repeat until the whole plant is wet.
Having described how to water Spanish moss, there is rule when it comes to this plant. Never water the epiphytic herb when it is wet. The plant will need to dry out before its next watering.
Finally, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Spanish moss is no exception but you can always keep a start. The process is simple. Once the top of the plant begins to die, you will need to take cuttings from the bottom, loosely tie them together and hang them up. This will begin to grow like the parent.
While you may think the approach described above is a little time consuming and you may just take cutting and throw them on the top, do not. For whatever reason, “starts” placed on top of the dying plant material also dies.