Moss and Iron in Fertilizer

Ed_Inc

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Hello,

I recently repotted my ficus retusa in akadama/lava rock and after it being a bit ropey due to repotting too early, it is now recovering really well. The weather is warming up quite a bit here so I'm letting the ficus have some sun outside in the day for now. With the new soil substrate, the top layer dries out really fast now. I had some advice previously to top dress the bonsai in moss to help keep the moisture in when the bonsai will be outside 24/7 for summer.

I found the perfect moss growing outside on some large stones, and it lifted in nice slabs which I have laid on the bonsai. I'm hoping that as the moss is live, and naturally grown right outside, it'll thrive on my bonsai.

My main question is about the iron content in fertiliser, and not killing the moss. I used to be a greenkeeper and we often used iron to burn off moss and green up grass in one fell swoop. My bonsai liquid fertiliser has small amounts of iron, will that be harmful to the moss?

Here are some photos of the newly laid moss if anyone is curious.
 

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Forsoothe!

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There are a million mosses that all look alike to the uninitiated (including me). Many are substrate-specific and will grow only or best on one kind of surface or another. The most common around here grow on asphalt and cement. That which is found on a shingle won't grow on cement and vice-versa. That which is found in full or most sun won't grow in shade, and vice-versa. Many mosses are sensitive to metals so copper, or magnesium, sulfur, aluminum, iron, et al, can be poison to one and just fine on the others depending upon the specific moss. I have been chasing this for a long, long time and since I collect moss from lots of places, I get surprised periodically. The most common reaction I get is the moss goes an unattractive brownish for a couple months. All of this is to say that I fertilize with my whole mix of ferts while the moss is still on the trays that I grow them out on before I place them on the pots, so the ugly can be pitched before it goes on the plants. That way the weeds grow out of the moss before I put it on the pots and that makes weeding easier, too. You can use Round-Up on moss, too, but not the same year you place it on the pots. Round-Up kills by working in the roots and moss ain't got no roots. They got feet, but no roots.
 

Ed_Inc

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There are a million mosses that all look alike to the uninitiated (including me). Many are substrate-specific and will grow only or best on one kind of surface or another. The most common around here grow on asphalt and cement. That which is found on a shingle won't grow on cement and vice-versa. That which is found in full or most sun won't grow in shade, and vice-versa. Many mosses are sensitive to metals so copper, or magnesium, sulfur, aluminum, iron, et al, can be poison to one and just fine on the others depending upon the specific moss. I have been chasing this for a long, long time and since I collect moss from lots of places, I get surprised periodically. The most common reaction I get is the moss goes an unattractive brownish for a couple months. All of this is to say that I fertilize with my whole mix of ferts while the moss is still on the trays that I grow them out on before I place them on the pots, so the ugly can be pitched before it goes on the plants. That way the weeds grow out of the moss before I put it on the pots and that makes weeding easier, too. You can use Round-Up on moss, too, but not the same year you place it on the pots. Round-Up kills by working in the roots and moss ain't got no roots. They got feet, but no roots.

Interesting! So I guess the main way to see what happens is to just fertilise and observe. Hoping the moss is hardy... it was growing happily on a stone wall, about 10m from a busy main road, and in full sun.
 

Shibui

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The moss you have chosen appears to be a long coarse variety which are not particularly attractive when used with small bonsai. The really compact types usually look better.
Getting any moss to reestablish in a pot can be frustrating. I have best results when lifting intact slabs of moss with some soil backing then pressing that down hard on the soil to make good contact but even single strands can start growing as moss does not really have roots as other plants do. Brown moss is not always dead. They have the ability to turn off when conditions don't suit and then turn green when suitable conditions return. Crumbling up brown moss and sprinkling it over the soil is another way it can be propagated but I have not been successful with that method here.

The small amount of iron in the soil mix and in any fertilizer is unlikely to harm the moss.
 

Ed_Inc

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The moss you have chosen appears to be a long coarse variety which are not particularly attractive when used with small bonsai. The really compact types usually look better.
Getting any moss to reestablish in a pot can be frustrating. I have best results when lifting intact slabs of moss with some soil backing then pressing that down hard on the soil to make good contact but even single strands can start growing as moss does not really have roots as other plants do. Brown moss is not always dead. They have the ability to turn off when conditions don't suit and then turn green when suitable conditions return. Crumbling up brown moss and sprinkling it over the soil is another way it can be propagated but I have not been successful with that method here.

The small amount of iron in the soil mix and in any fertilizer is unlikely to harm the moss.

It was probably unclear in my original post, but I gathered this moss in the exact way you mentioned 😄 It came up in nice big chunks, with a thin layer of compact 'soil' still intact. I think it has taken well already!

I'm not too worried about it being a too long or coarse, I plan to trim it down a little when the individual strands of moss are clearer. Plus, there are several different varieties in there and I think it looks quite natural and pleasing in person (there are some compact mosses too) 😄

This moss is mostly to serve a purpose to retain moisture, but good to know it hopefully won't die off from the iron content in my feed.
 

Forsoothe!

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That which is pictured is closer to sphagnum moss than the kind that we high class people use on our plants. It is hard to keep off tree nebari and will eat the bark. Lots of growing things look sweet when young, including almost all weeds. Your standards will eventually rise.
 

LanceMac10

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Take the tree out and the moss will grow awesome!!! 🤔


Trying to grow the tree or the moss?🥴:);)
 

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