How to Grow Live Sphagnum Moss in a Terrarium

Sphagnum Moss is true terrarium staple. It has huge utility thanks to its incredible water retention capabilities – making it just as effective a substrate as a carpeting moss.

Not all that surprising considering its natural role of forming peats bogs in the wild through storing water. Hence the common name, Peat Moss. It has some unique environmental characteristics in that it naturally inhibits decomposition, and fungal outbreaks.

Pretty useful for a terrarium ey?

Live Sphagnum Moss

Where to Buy Live Sphagnum Moss

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

US – See on Etsy
UK – See on Etsy

Sphagnum Moss Care & Growth

Plant TypeMoss
LightingMedium indirect light
Temperature55-80°F (12-26°C)
WateringConstant, even moisture
HumidityMedium – high humidity (40-80%)
Growth1-4 inches


As you might expect from a bog dwelling moss, Sphagnum Moss doesn’t require much light. Keep out of direct sunlight and in partial shade for best results.


Sphagnum Moss prefers a very damp environment to grow properly. It’s best to fully saturate it before adding to a terrarium to give it plenty of moisture whilst it establishes itself.

Sphagnum Moss cannot tolerate any drought at all really, and will quickly die if it dries out fully.


Sphagnum Moss will happily grow on many surfaces as long as there’s sufficient moisture. In fact, where other mosses might require proper drainage, Sphagnum Moss will grow well when partially submerged.

Temperature & Humidity

A high humidity will help Sphagnum Moss retain its moisture, so it’ll do well in a closed terrarium environment. It typically grows naturally in colder environments, but will do just fine in warmer temperatures too.


Sphagnum Moss has an unusual growth pattern in that it grows both horizontally and vertically. That’s how it’s able to form such a dense carpet.


As with many other moss species, Sphagnum Moss propagates through spores. Over time these spores will develop and spread to form new moss colonies.

Varieties & Similar Plants

There are almost 400 species of Sphagnum Moss but they generally fall within 4 main sections of the genus. They’re difficult to identify via structure, but they come in a variety of vibrant colours from a deep red, to orange, purple and yellow.

Common Problems

Live Sphagnum Moss is supplied by a few different countries, but the quality varies dramatically between sources. New Zealand is regarded as the highest quality source of Sphagnum Moss, with Chilean or Chinese often being of poor quality and full of debris.