Scotch moss is a perfect filler for cracks between walkway stones.

How Long for Scotch Moss to Grow?

by Paul Schuster

Despite its name and similar appearance, Scotch moss is actually a creeping plant rather than a true moss. Often grown in rock gardens or along pathways to which it lends a romantic, soft-textured appearance, Scotch moss enjoys more sun exposure than true mosses do -- although in high temperatures it does better with irrigation and some shade. Scotch moss thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 5a to 9b.

1. Coverage and Transplant

A moderate grower, Scotch moss will spread a few inches each year, but it is not known to be a rapid grower. Depending on the amount of growing space, Scotch moss can take upwards of several years to fill an entire area. To quickly fill up space in a garden area, transplant small sections of Scotch moss so that the space gets filled more quickly. Separate the crown and root ball into 1 to 2- inch-wide plugs, and transplant them with plenty of attached roots. Water thoroughly, and keep the soil regularly moist. To increase the coverage rate of your Scotch moss, transplant chunks from the established moss to bare areas to fill in holes, gaps and crevices.

2. Growth Conditions

Scotch moss grows best in soil that is moisture and nutrient-rich. Amend the soil with compost beforehand to create ideal growing conditions with improved soil structure. Well-drained soil is a must because water-logged soil will lead to crown rot in the Scotch moss. In very hot temperatures, or in USDA zone 8, Scotch moss will grow poorly if there is little shade coverage. Space transplants 4 to 6 inches apart for optimum coverage over the shortest period of time. In general, the transplanted sections should touch borders within 3 years.

3. Growing Areas

Scotch moss can be used as a ground cover for large swaths of otherwise unoccupied soil. However, because of its low-growing habit and softly textured appearance, it does well growing in narrow spaces such as borders, cracks and crevices. Scotch moss can be used to fill in spaces between rocks in a flagstone pathway and to prevent weed growth around the edges of bushes or garden beds.

4. Alternatives

If the growing conditions are poorly suited for Scotch moss, consider another type of low-growing, creeping ground cover instead. Other ground cover choices that are tolerant to foot traffic includes miniature stonecrop (Sedum requieni), which does well in USDA zones 3 through 10. Miniature stonecrop can withstand moderate foot traffic and does not require much irrigation once it is established. Another option includes creeping thyme (Thymus serpyllum), which thrives in USDA zones 4 through 9. Creeping thyme is especially hardy, and not withstands heavy foot traffic, but when stepped upon, it emits a pleasant fragrance.

About the Author

Paul Schuster began writing in 2006 and has published in "Gardening Life" and "Canadian Gardening." Schuster is the director of the Toronto Botanical Garden, and holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Horticulture from the University of Guelph. He leads gardening workshops for elementary school children.

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