Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) evokes images of the Deep South, with garlands of moss hanging along tree-lined drives or glades. An epiphyte, Spanish moss is rootless and gets its nutrients from the air. The moss grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11, and the color may be darker or lighter green or gray, depending on where it is growing within those zones. When hanging Spanish moss, make sure you wear plenty of bug spray as well as long-sleeves, gloves and long pants as the moss is home to many biting insects.
The most obvious place to hang Spanish moss is from tree limbs. Just because your trees are currently moss-free doesn't mean the moss won't grow in them. Drape several strands of moss over various branches in the tree. You may need a ladder to reach higher branches. If the moss finds the tree suitable, it will continue to grow and spread on the branches. Occasional misting of the plant in the evening will help keep the moss growing in less humid climates. If the moss gets too thick, you may need to thin it so it doesn't weigh down the tree branches or block too much light from reaching the leaves.
Drape clusters of Spanish moss along fence lines to create a privacy screen on fences with openings. You can hang the moss over the top of the fence, or at various heights on a chain link fence that has numerous openings. To hang the moss at various heights along a solid fence, string a wire along the fence line at the desired height. Spanish moss does not grow as well when it's not on a tree, so you may have to replace the moss periodically as it dies or decays.
3. Other Outdoor Areas
Other areas in the landscape can be given a Southern makeover with clusters of Southern moss, as long as you replace the moss if it dies. Wrap a beard of moss around a mailbox pole. Drape moss over a porch roof and around the sides of exposed porch rails. Place a trellis against the side of a house or garage as a support to hold moss, giving the illusion it is growing along the walls.
Drape moss over mirrors, candlesticks, lampshades or other indoor fixtures. Make sure the moss is well away from any potential contact with open flames, such as candles or fireplaces. Fill in around potted plants and drape the moss over the sides of the planter. Before using moss indoors, it needs to be sterilized to remove the insects so you don't have chiggers or spiders escaping in your living room. Place damp moss in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave the moss for 30 seconds on high power. Remove the moss and lay it on a towel to dry before you use it.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service: Spanish Moss
- Charleston Magazine: Lowcountry Plants: Spanish Moss
- Floridata: Tillandsia Usneoides
- Terrebonne Parish Online: The Story of Spanish Moss
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Tillandsia Usneoides
- LSU AgCenter: What You Need to Know About Spanish Moss
- Beaufort County Library: Spanish Moss: Its Nature, History and Uses
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images