Moss in the Japanese Garden  (苔)

Moss is one of the signature plants of Japanese gardens. Given the right conditions, it can cover large areas in a garden, it grows on stone lanterns, trees, garden stones. The Japanese climate fits perfectly to the plant's needs: Japan is surrounded by the sea, which provides a general humid climate in spring, summer and autumn. Between mid-June and early July, the rainy season drenches the naturally acidic soil.

The reason moss grows on nearly every available surface is in its biological structure. If the air humidity is 80% or higher, the leaves are able to absorb humidity and nutrients directly from the air. So what looks like roots is actually the plant's holdfast. Moss prefers a nutrient-poor soil, too many nutrients can damage the plant. That is why it thrives in places where flowering plants have a hard time to survive. Moss is also an air cleaner. It absorbs pollutants like nitrates and ammonia.

Although Japan has a long rain season, rain isn't actually necessary for moss to thrive. More important than the average annual rainfall is the air humidity. And even without rain, moss can also survive periods of drought. Although the leaves may seem dead, the plant is still alive and the leaves will return to their green color after watering.

Moss in Japanese gardens
Koke - Mosses and liverworts

Famous moss gardens
Saihō-ji aka Koke-dera, the moss temple in Kyoto (西芳寺、苔寺)
Gyokudo Art Museum, Mitake, Tokyo (玉堂美術館)
Nezu Art Museum, Tokyo (根津美術館)
Hakone Museum of Art, Hakone (箱根美術館)

Establishing moss in your garden
Moss Maintenance

18 pages
45 beautiful moss pictures

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Moss in the Japanese Garden Trailer
Watch the Moss trailer here.

RJG presents: Moss in the Japanese garden from Real Japanese Gardens on Vimeo.

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