How to Grow Selaginella — Club Moss

Club moss, Selaginella
Club moss, Selaginella

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 

  • Space  

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 Care  

  • 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.

Selaginella Propagation  

  • 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. 

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