Selaginella–commonly called club moss or moss fern–is a mossy, fernlike perennial that grows in mounded clumps or upright with creeping branches. Selaginella has a delicate airy effect. It thrives in moist, shady conditions.
Selaginella are grown for their foliage. Selaginella is neither a true moss nor a true fern, but it has characteristics of both. It is taller and fluffier than real moss, so it is often take for a fern. It is a rhizomatous perennial.
Selaginella’s fernlike foliage will thrive in moist, shady conditions. Where hardy, Selaginella can be grown as a groundcover or in hanging baskets. Selaginella can be grown as a houseplant in cold winter regions.
Selaginella is a genus of about 700 evergreen perennials native from semi-desert to rainforest most in tropical regions worldwide but some are found in temperate and alpine regions.
Get to Know Selaginella
- Plant type: Tropical perennial
- Growing zones and range: Zones 10-15
- Hardiness: Tender
- Optimal growin temperature: day, 70°F (21°C); night, 50° to 55°F (10° to 13°C); the leaves will wither and the plant may die in hot, dry conditions.
- Height and width: 1 to 8 inches (2.5-20cm) tall and 8 to 12 inches (20-30cm) or more wide depending on the variety.
- Foliage: Smal, moss-like tufts and long, creeping branched stems; scale-like leaves to 1/8 inch (3mm) long.
- Bloom time:
- Uses: Shady groundcover, houseplant
- Common name: Club moss, moss fern.
- Botanical name: Selaginella
- Family name: Selaginellaceae
- Origin: Semi-desert to rainforest usually in tropical regions worldwide
Where to Plant Selaginella
- Light outdoors: Grow Selaginella in partial shade in a sheltered site.
- Light indoors: Low light, partial shade from northern or eastern exposure. Does well under artificial light, needing 14 to 16 light-hours daily. Spreading club moss needs limited light.
- Soil outdoors: Grow in moderately fertile, humus-rich, moist but well-drained soil, neutrual to slightly acidic.
- Soil indoors: All-purpose mix.
When to Plant Selaginella
- Set outdoors
Planting and Spacing Selaginella
How to Water and Feed Selaginella
- Water: Keep the soil thoroughly moist. Mist Selaginella twice daily. Optimal humidity is 50% to 60%.
- Feeding: Fertilize Selaginella every 2 weeks during growing season, with mild liquid fertilizer.
- Selaginella leaves will wither and the plant may die in hot, dry conditions.
Growing Selaginella as a Houseplant
- Selaginella needs limited light, a warm temperature, high humidity, and an evenly moist potting medium.
- Selaginella will grow well in a dish garden or terrarium.
- Fertilizer should be applied regularly throughout the year; use a all-purpose liquid fertilizer.
Selaginella Pests and Diseases
- Selaginella is generally insect free.
- Leaf damage can occur if cold water is used to moisten the soil.
- Leaf spots and stem rot may occur.
- Propagate Selaginella by cuttings taken in spring, layering, and spores.
- Selaginella can be propagated by division; plant divisions in a peat-based soilless mix.
Selaginella Varieties to Grow
- Selaginella kraussiana, spreading club moss. Grows in low mounds to 12 inches wide; bright green leaves that resemble scales grow along creeping stems; the stems root as they spread across the surface of the soil. Cultivar ‘Aurea’ has a similar look but its leaves are golden green.
- S. martensii. Shiny, flesh green leaves borne on 12-inch (30 cm) stems grow erect, then arch in the lower half.
- S. pallescens, also listed as S. emmeliana, moss fern or sweat plant. Produces dense tufs of lacy fronds growing upright or horizontal; pale green leaves have white margins; stems to 12 inches (30 cm).
- S. uncinata, rainbow fern, peacock fern. Creeping stems to 24 inch (61 cm) long with metallic, blue-green leaves.