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Green carpet of Irish or Scotch moss.

Green carpet of Irish or Scotch moss

For a luxurious carpet of green, few plants can match Irish or Scotch moss. Nurseries should be well stocked with these agreeable ground covers now that the big fall planting season has arrived.

Moss is excellent for tucking between pavers or to give a lush accent to a rock garden. It's also popular for Japanese-style landscaping.

Plants sold as Irish moss are the emerald green strains of Sagina subulata, also called Arenaria verna. Those sold as Scotch moss are yellow-green and usually have the variety name "Aurea'.

Scotch or Irish moss does well in full sun or--especially in hot-summer areas--in partial shade. Add plenty of organic matter to soil and keep plants well watered. Cut flats of moss into 2 to 4-inch squares and place them about 6 inches apart, or set plugs from sixpacks.

As moss matures, it tends to create an uneven, undulating surface. Many gardeners like this natural look, but if plants become too lumpy, slice out wedges to remove humps. If needed, add topsoil to create an even surface; remaining plants will quickly cover bare spots.

Feed in spring and summer with fish emulsion or a dilute solution of other fertilizer. Pull out weeds early before they take over. But don't use herbicides--they tend to damage this ground cover.

Tiny white flowers that appear in summer set seeds in profusion. Where conditions are ideal, such as in areas with cool, foggy summers, Irish or Scotch moss can become invasive; keep the edges trimmed.

Photo: Irish moss surrounds steppingstones with dense mat of feathery, emerald green foliage. He's nabbing weed seedlings
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Oct 1, 1984
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