How to Grow Feather Moss (Ptilium crista-castrensis)

Ptilium crista-castrensis lives true to its common name, and can be easily identified by its beautiful, green feathery leaves.

The leaves run up the stem in an evenly branched fashion, getting smaller towards the tip – giving it that feather/plume appearance.

Hailing from the Boreal Forest and other snow forests of Europe, Ptilium crista-castrensis is actually a pretty temperature moss, but it does just fine in a humid tropical terrarium environment.

Ptilium crista-castrensis (Feather Moss)

Where to Buy Feather Moss

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Feather Moss Care & Growth

Plant TypeMoss
LightingMedium indirect light
Temperature55-80°F (12-26°C)
WateringRegular, even moisture
HumidityMedium – high humidity (50-90%)
Growth1-5 inches


Thriving in ground-level forest conditions, Ptilium crista-castrensis prefers shaded environments. Which makes it a great pairing with many other low-light terrarium plants. Keep it out of direct sunlight and strong heat sources.


Feather Moss will grow best in a damp terrarium environment where it has consistent, even moisture. Water evenly if visibly dry.


Feather Mosses should do just fine on any terrarium substrate. This moss is often found on logs, rocks, and trees in the wild – it’s not particularly picky. That being said, I wouldn’t recommend it for 3D planting onto rocks and such, it’s not as suited to that as say, Java Moss.

Temperature & Humidity

Despite being found primarily in snow forests, Ptilium crista-castrensis has been shown to thrive in humidity levels of about 80%.

So, it’ll still fit nicely into a typical tropical terrarium environment. However, higher temperatures do tend to slow its growth.


I find this moss tends to grow slowly in a terrarium environment, as high temperatures aren’t its ideal growth condition. Eventually, it will form a thick carpet if left to develop.


Sourcing from a single stem, each ‘feather’ unit is clearly defined and can be easily separated. Simply separate and plant apart from each other to propagate. Though it can be a slow process.

Varieties & Similar Plants

“Feather Moss’ is quite a loose term, and so it’s not strictly limited to the Ptilium genus. Hylocomium splendens (otherwise known as Splendid Feather Moss) is a similar species with beautiful feathery fronds.

For more beautiful moss inspiration, be sure to check out our guide: Terrarium Moss: The Secret to a Vibrant Terrarium.

Common Problems

Originating in a very cold environment, Ptilium crista-castrensis isn’t your typical terrarium plant. It will grow in warm, tropical conditions, but it doesn’t favor them.