Selaginella kraussiana – Secrets of the Golden Clubmoss

Selaginella kraussiana ‘Aurea’ is certainly an enigmatic plant.

Classified somewhere between a moss and a fern (and though technically neither), it displays characteristics of both.

With “kraus” aptly translating to curly/crinkly, it’s most easily described as an unruly shingling vine that forms dense carpets of feathery foliage.

The ‘Aurea’ cultivar is a beautiful twist on the classic, and while I wouldn’t say it’s a gold color, it’s certainly a beautiful bright, yellow-toned green. This, of course, being the inspiration for its common name, Golden Clubmoss.

So, let’s jump into the gold-standard care tips!

Where to Buy Selaginella kraussiana ‘Aurea’

See the links below to purchase from reputable terrarium plant shops and marketplaces (may include affiliate links). 

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Golden Clubmoss Care & Growth

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


When it comes to lighting, Selaginella kraussiana is one seriously low-maintenance plant.

While it’ll thrive in brighter light (resulting in faster growth and brighter foliage), it will be absolutely fine in a shady spot.

Situated on the lowest levels of the forest floor in the wild, it’s a true low-light species.

selginella kraussiana on rainforest floor
Not much sunlight makes it all the way down here.

It’ll be happy, provided you:

  1. Make sure it has at least some light.
  2. Keep it out of direct light.

It will quickly scorch in direct sunlight, so be careful to keep it out of any harsh rays.

delicate foliage of selaginella kraussiana aurea
The foliage is extremely delicate, so no direct light, please!


As long as you keep Selaginella kraussiana ‘Aurea’ constantly moist, it’ll be as good as gold.

It will grow rapidly with a ready supply of water and will very quickly suffer if allowed to dry out.

Of course, as with pretty much all tropical plant species, being actively sat in a wet substrate can still lead to root rot.

Proper drainage and a quality substrate will go a long way in mitigating any overwatering so you can water this thirsty plant stress-free.

You can do this by choosing a pot with a drainage hole or by building a drainage layer into a terrarium.

terrarium layers side view
I used a layer of leca and a thin mesh in my terrarium build. This protects the roots from excess water.

Best Substrate & Soil

Needing a consistent supply of water, Golden Clubmoss will readily grow in a substrate that retains lots of moisture.

In fact, the moisture-retentive part is far more important than anything else – it’ll happily grow on top of moss and even hardscape, provided it’s moist enough.

golden clubmoss on cork bark
I’ve placed a Golden Clubmoss cutting on top of some moist cork bark, and it’s been really happy here so far. Porous lava rock would be a good choice, too.

If you’re planting it directly into the soil, however, water-retentive substances like coco coir and sphagnum moss are ideal for this plant.

Be sure to add some elements like orchid bark and pumice for drainage, and you’ll have one happy Selaginella.

Temperature & Humidity Requirements

Selaginella kraussiana ‘Aurea’ thrives with warm temperatures and high relative humidity.

Though being native to both tropical and sub-tropical African regions, it can tolerate a reasonable range of temperatures.

If you were to experience any problems with this plant, temperature is extremely unlikely to be the cause.

On the other hand, it’s much more sensitive to humidity levels; if you’re keeping it as a houseplant, be sure to keep the room above 50%.

bushy, big golden clubmoss
There’s no stopping it in high humidity – check out this dense Selaginella kraussiana ‘Aurea’ I saw in Thailand.

Of course, a closed terrarium environment is a great way to consistently meet these needs, and they look fantastic (so what are you waiting for?).


Under the right conditions, Golden Clubmoss is a quick grower and will rapidly form a thick carpet.

However, this speed, paired with its irregular growth pattern, can lend itself to getting a little out of hand in a closed terrarium environment. So it can benefit from the occasional trim to keep its size and shape in check.

Similar to the likes of Ficus pumila, if you buy a Selaginella kraussiana ‘Aurea’ cutting, it’ll grow so much that you’ll have enough to populate terrariums for years to come.

Being such a great carpeting option for terrariums, who’s complaining?

golden clubmoss spilling out of pot
I haven’t had my Selaginella kraussiana very long, and it’s already doubled in size.

How to Propagate Golden Clubmoss

Similar to their moss and fern friends, Selaginella are spore-producing plants.

So, as you can imagine, in tropical environments, it’s not too uncommon to find this stuff growing everywhere.

golden clubmoss next to sidewalk
Here’s a little bit of Golden Clubmoss I found growing by a sidewalk in Malaysia.

Luckily, in the home, you needn’t wait for it to reproduce by itself. It’s an extremely easy plant to propagate via stem cuttings.

Snip off a section (don’t worry if it’s rooted or not) and place it wherever you’d like it to establish in a closed terrarium, either directly on top of moss, substrate or a moisture-retentive piece of hardscape.

Then just sit back and let it work its magic – it will readily root up in the high humidity.

Alternatively, if you don’t have a terrarium you’d like to put it in, you can place it on top of some moist sphagnum moss in some Tupperware.

holding golden clubmoss over a terrarium
It won’t take long for these delicate roots to develop further. 

Varieties & Similar Plants

There are over 700 species of Selaginella but only a few notable cultivars of kraussiana.

Selaginella kraussiana ‘Variegata’ is characterized by its “frosted” appearance (which looks almost Christmassy to me), and Selaginella kraussiana ‘Brownii’ is prized for its frilly mounds of leaves.

If you want something a little different, why not try the stunning blue Peacock Spikemoss Selaginella uncinata?

Selaginella uncinata in the rainforest
Peacock Spikemoss is iridescent Selaginella royalty!