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Welcome to My Little Garden
Welcome to My Little Garden

About Me

Tropical Garden, Batu Caves, Malaysia
Gardening is part of my life and I want to share that portion of my zeal and joy with you. These are my thoughts, my experiences and life work. I hope it enrich and add value to you too.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tips to Grow Spanish Moss

My Garden is slowly settling to its permanent position where I'm going to maintain what I have currently.
The best idea in keeping a successful garden is keeping those plants that does well in your garden space.

Few of my facebook friends where asking me for the tips of growing & maintaining Spanish Moss. (Tillandsia Usneoides) Hope my tips here give some success rate for those who are still having them.

Tips listed here are not arranged according to their importance in the numeric order. I think all of these factor are important.


 Do not expose the plant in Direct Sunlight.
They are shade lovers. In their natural environment - you will find them growing on trees with with fogs around them. Likewise if you are having them in a hot tropical garden the best ideal environment for them is of a shaded place.
 Semi-light / partial morning or evening sunlight is OK but if it directly getting the hit from the noon sunlight - the whole plant is going to turn into crisp.


The plant must be hanged in such a manner that it is totally straight from top to bottom.
 I know it sound crazy.
I have noticed that when this plant is tangled up here & there but not in a proportion where its aligned directly top to bottom situation - that portion tend to wither, rot or dry up.

It must be such a way that when you water the plant - water droplets must able to cascade gracefully as in layers without any difficultly. The total vertical position must be in aligned in a way that when the wind blows upon it - it must "dance" gracefully. If possible - position the plant where it can get the best air movement.

a) Do not place it against a wall or near a column (etc.)
The heat from the nearest wall or column may get transferred to the plant making the plant to dry-up.

b) Don't share or put this plant with another.
Spanish Moss don't seemed to be receptive with another plant growing together with it. I had placed an orchid plant together with this and later found that there was a huge dried up patch at the place where I had positioned my small orchid plant.
My point - Keep your Spanish Moss exclusive.
You can tie-up something at the way top of the plant - but make sure that nothing disturbs it -especially during watering time.

It also mean - Don't put chime or hanging shells together with them.

c) Do not move your plant around here & there.
Find a nice permanent place and keep it there. My mom started moving this plant up & down. She re-locate them when it rains (hanging it by the gate) and then re-locate them back to a fence but rain water doesn't get there (its original place). For sometime the plant tolerated it but it had eventually died.

Her problem:
i) The plant was not directly positioned top to bottom
(it was tilted - some parts are up, some parts are tangled here & there)
ii) The plant suffered shock as it got moved around.
Spanish Moss are not hardy plant (not in the tropical). They need to be stay put in a permanent location but with good air movement. (Not to be re-positioned frequently)


The life & death of this plant is very much based on your watering regiment. Few tips here:

a) Do not use direct tap water (chlorinated water) This will burn your plant. It is OK to use filtered water - The best I had found that works marvellously is rain water. I use to collect them in a bucket and sort of bath them. I pour the water from the top and let the water cascade down & recollected back into the bucket and continue to do so until the plant is saturated with water.
You will know this when the colour of the Spanish Moss turn green.

b) Spraying water from a water spray is OK but that is not enough. A lot of people fail to water the plant strongly - they need heavy watering. At least once a day. I usually spray my water hose on them (filtered water) from top to bottom until they whole thing is soaking - dripping wet.
It must be wet enough that the plant can last at least about 20-30 minutes of staying wet. (That is what I mean by strong watering.)

c) Never - Never water Spanish Moss when it is still wet.
Only water them when they are totally dry. I water my Spanish Moss about  5 - 6 times in a day during weekend on a hot & windy day. This I do when the Spanish Moss is totally dry after the first watering. You will notice that the plant shines in the silver green.
The plant will start to rot & wither when you water continuously without letting the plant dry-up.


a) I don't feed my Spanish Moss. I don't believe in any of those fertiliser sold. The really good ones are expensive. If you really want to use them - use them very sparingly - like once in a month (spray lightly) those which are used for orchids - liquid fertiliser.
I would recommend using washed rice water. I use them once a month. Well diluted (1 portion washed rice water with 5 portion water) - This is because I need to water my whole collection of Spanish Moss.
Some gardeners suggest of using fish washed water - I prefer not as it would attract ants.

b) Don't use strong chemical fertiliser that comes in a package where you use a small portion of it & mix with water. (the powdered type) IF you accidentally increase the dosage - even a small portion - the whole plant will die on you within days.


Now this is the tricky part. You need to have more Spanish Moss if you want to have them in your garden. Spanish Moss does not live forever. The older plant does eventually mature & die but they give out shoots that replaces the old plant.

A lot of people I know who bought this plant makes a mistake without realising it. When the plant starts to dry up from the top - they clip the new plant and place it on the top. This is a NO-NO.
I'm not sure of this but I suspect that the dried portion is contagious that in will infect the healthy ones to get matured faster and retards new growth. It will also causes shedding of the small bunches which you will find fallen off from the main vine. Before you know it - its looks so damaged that you are not sure what to keep and what to throw and the whole thing is so disproportioned.

Its best to cut and place the new fronds to a new rolled wire and propagate from there. Leave the parent plant to produce its new fronds and continue to cut and place them separately to its new home. Layer the new fronds in such a way that there is enough space that they are not crowded nor thinly spaced.
The spacing is such that when you water - the water can still hold and slowly cascade gracefully. To lightly spaced and the water will just descend down without any retention. To heavy and the plant will suffocate and the those which are inside will tend to dry up.

a) Pieces of Fallen Spanish Moss.
You will find small bundles of Spanish Moss fallen from the hanger. They are way to small and may not long enough for you to lay them to the wire. What I suggest is collect as many as you can within the few weeks. Keep them watered and dried occasionally (I know its easier than said - they can last even for few weeks if you ignore the watering.)
Tie them up with a fine string - you can tie them together from a leaf spike or you can tie from the centre of the plant. Tie each of them - one after another in a long string and you can put them back on the wire.
(why waste those) They will eventually grow from there.

b) Hanging Wire :My style of Wiring
Make a circle first. Then bend the circle into half (like a half moon, smiling face) Fasten two wires from the corners at both tips.You will have 2 layers - front & back to layer the new Spanish Moss fronds on it.

Later, as the plant matures (about 6 months time) - they will intertwine into a carpet like mesh. The good part about it is that - the plant had learn to adapt itself in retaining the water on it. You will find new fronds coming out from this mesh and also from the bottom.
Treat this as a parent plant - the new fronds are to be transferred to a new hanging wire. This is your second set of Spanish Moss. Keep your Spanish Moss together in close approximately - they create their own micro-climate of their own together.
The older ones had dried up (they form the mesh) & you will also find small bundles of Spanish Moss springing from this mesh - some grows into new fronds & some falls off to the ground.

Hope this tips & suggestions will give you success growth with your Spanish Moss.
This is my years of experience with them.
Click below to see my humble beginnings.
Link: Spanish Moss 2009

Ask me any questions you would like to know on my comment box. I will try my best to answer them based on my experience.


Even after you start doing this, you might not see any results - Be patient. 

The plant may had gone through a lot of shock and will take time to recover but once it recovers - the growth rate is very fast and you are able to replace the lost one and it will multiply in a huge fast rate. I had given so many Spanish Moss to so many people that I can safely say that I had given 50% of my collection to others.

For those who are still struggling and not sure what to do - Hope these tips may shed some light on what not to do (more than often if you get this part right - the battle is half won)
Good Luck!

Pictures below:
A nice collection of Bleeding Heart Vine, Oncidium Orchid & Spanish Moss at the background.


  1. Best tutorial on this bromeliad I've seen.

    They are native here. Curiously, Spanish Moss grows on the northern half of our farm but not on the southern half. The northern half is nearer a creek, I think the humidity has something to do with it.

  2. I do not plant this Spanish Moss otherwise your pontifications on its care would be most useful. I'll shall archive it for future reference if I do cultivate them. Your Spanish moss is really lush which negates the use of bamboo blinds.

  3. I have never seen spanish moss thanks for the tips and nice presentation I liked the last photo it looks like a painting with oncidium and the moss in the bkgrnd

  4. Wow James... you're really a wonder man! Not only your curtain of Spanish Moss is very impressive but you've presented such a comprehensive and explicit tutorial on its growing tips.
    Lovely images of your plants... they speak volumes of your gardening skills too!
    Thanks for sharing. God bless.

  5. James - How fascinating the Spanish Moss looks, and your profile of the plant makes for interesting reading.

  6. Wow, I'm so tempted to grow them. I always see them in garden shows, they always add interest and drama to landscapes. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Thanks everyone for the lovely comment & encouragement.
    Really appreciate your thoughts.

  8. Thanks for the tips, I'be been growing the moss for years, currently my moss is turning a reddish colour, in the stems, any thoughts? I do use a diluted orchid fertilizer and rain water could it be too strong of a mix or I'd the reddish colouration normal?
    Dan from Canada

    1. I suspect that it might be a different cultivar from the common species as some bromeliad do have red shade appearing on them.
      Chances are they might be flowering and that is considered something very rare!
      I think if they are over-fertilised and if they receive too much - they might get burned instead of turning red.
      Perhaps just water them with rain water and see if they change colour back to normal.

  9. I live in Hawaii. It's hung on a dead lemon tree we once had and it has been a year since we hung this stuff. It must love Hawaii because what started off as about a 13 gallon bag full ended up to around 5 outside trash bags. (not kidding) It's growing out of control and there are very few spots that are black. I was looking on how to maintain it but i guess I just need to pull strands or more like bunches and throw them away? Are there any uses for the ones I don't need? compost? Though I did notice that when they are black they are hard to break. Maybe not such a good idea to throw them on the ground maybe just the trash?

    1. Wow..
      You got so many that you want to throw it away?
      Actually have you thought of giving it to your friends or family to start it off as gardening.

      Basically - you can use it for decor or even use it for orchid medium.
      Try to sell it to a nursery nearby your place - I understand they are highly sought after.

  10. Thank you James. For someone who have not planted anything in her life and have just acquire a few strands from a stall, the information here is humongous. I never would have known. Thank you for helping me to a good start.
    Most appreciated.

  11. Great article. Just got some Spanish moss today an I'm sure this info will come in handy.

  12. Hello James! Thanks for this complete article about spanish moss! I just bought some bunches and they're dark on the top, so I'm not sure what to do.

    I will try to hang them differently to make sure they are totally straight, as you recommend. I understood how you bend your wire to make the half moon hook, but how do you actually attach the plants to the hook? I need some advice on this...

    Thanks again for your help!


    1. First make a circle.
      Then bend the circle into half - what you get?
      You get a smiley - side ways - you will see 2 moons.
      Attach a wire at the corners of the fold each.
      Imagine - smiley face and you are putting a clip corner to corner of the smile.
      Bring both wires up and you get something like a triangle.
      Hook it up.

    2. If you still not sure.
      Look me up in FB and add me.
      I can chat with you from there for more accurate detail.

  13. I have gotten some Spanish Moss. I didn't really know how to take care of them, thanks for your advice.
    1. Some parts 30% are turning dry and brown. Should I trim them away?
    2. I put them indoor near window, as it's winter now. Is the moss lacking of ventilated air?
    Refuse to throw it.away, hope to revive it.

    Yours sincerely,
    Hazel, North carolina, USA

    1. Soak it in rainwater for an hour.
      And see if it's still silver green - it's alive.
      If it's still brown and dried.
      It's dead.

      It needs a cool breeze time to time but not a hot air.

  14. Thank you so much for your comprehensive information on Spanish Moss.
    I stumbled upon your page around a year ago when I was looking for answers as to why my own moss was failing. Again I stumbled upon your page just now and was reminded of the difficulties I was having maintaining this plant at that time. I am happy to say that my Moss is now looking amazing and has grown a lot since then. I am very proud of it after having had trouble to start with and enjoy the routine of watering, hanging and maintaining it now. It is due to your in depth information that I am able to say this. The most drastic change I made from reading on your experiences was around watering. I was told by the person at the garden centre that it would not require much water, only a misting every week or two! I know give it a soak for 5-10 minutes if it is looking a bit crispy and mist to drenching point every day or two as I keep it indoors I can not pour water over it. I have it hung off a wire across my kitchen window which adds enough privacy without it blocking out too much light.

    Thank you again.!

    Julia (New Zealand)

    1. Great Julia!
      I'm so happy to know you have received such jot and help from my experiences.
      You are so welcome

  15. great article! thanks for the tips. nothing like experience. you should make some videos on youtube :-)

    1. Hahahahaaa
      Perhaps but I'm a timid gardener..
      I will think about and you would be first to see once I post it

  16. Hi, I'm from Penang, I'm wondering where could I buy this gorgeous plant? I've saw once and falling in love with it, but it's way too expensive here, just a small bunch cost RM 10.00++

  17. Hi, I'm from Penang, I'm wondering where could I buy this gorgeous plant? I've saw once and falling in love with it, but it's way too expensive here, just a small bunch cost RM 10.00++

    1. Yes..
      It's getting really expensive and it's not easily available nowadays.
      RM10.00 is still OK if you ask me

  18. Thank you for the info on such a beautiful plant. I have been lucky enough to be given some from our public gardens here in Taranaki New Zealand where they have grown these in a tropical house environment. Having these at home is a different environment so your tips have been very helpful thank you

  19. I love my Spanish Moss. It seems to grow quite well in my fern garden draped on tree branches and under hanging baskets. I have just moved most of it to create a natural archway, hanging it on a piece of horizontal bamboo. Now, having read your excellent information tomorrow I must check the alignment of it all. I will also pay better attention to its watering requirements as in the past it has had to survive on a fair bit of neglect. I was indeed lucky to find your blog. Thank you.
    My garden is in SE Qld. Australia.

  20. Thankful greetings for your informative and inspiring article, James!

    I am trying out Spanish moss for the first time. Hung it from a tree but tied knots to secure it and it's not happy. Also tied it to a small bridge metal railing and I see it doesn't like the heat transferred there either.
    What I don't understand in your article is how to combine the thin thread and the hanging wires hanging from the corners of the half-moon initial wire. Is the thread meant for stringing moss piece to moss piece, while the hanging wire is something around which you wrap the hanging moss strands? Or do you simply thread the hanging moss to the wires?

    Puzzled and hopeful in KY, USA,

    1. There are no hard and fast rules on it.
      Basically the thread works better as its it easier to tie with it.
      The wired piece is to support the long hanging bunch..
      Please make sure that you use a wire that us fully covered - exposed metal wires can burn the moss

  21. do you sell these plant...i live in malaysia too.i live at ipoh.if you do want to sell. plz contact me using whatsapp 014-3409065.plz .i want some of these.thank you in advance

    1. Hmmm..
      I actually had sold off my whole collection.
      Right now - I don't have space to garden as everything is growing everywhere

  22. I just bought my first bundle of Spanish moss and it is tied together at the top. Do I need to untie it or can I hang it like that?

    1. If they are doing fine then its ok.
      But if they are not..
      Then do what I had suggested

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. Hello! Can you give us an idea how fast Spanish Moss grows in its natural habitat? How many inches in what length of time? Thank you

    1. I'm sorry
      I'm leaving in the tropical region
      This plant is not native in where I'm staying

  25. Hi James, hv added u on facebook..such lovely garden u hv..fantastic...tq for this lovely blog about spanish moss

  26. Hello. I received a small Spanish moss plant with instructions that said soak overnight in water once a month. I've since learned that that was hardly enough water. I now have long strands where the top is light brown and the bottom tips, around 2-3 inches, are green. Can the green tips be saved. If so, how should I proceed.

    1. OK.
      When you soak it - you will find it that the living part will turn color from silver to light green.
      The dead parts will brown regardless.
      Snip off the brown parts and re-hang back the living green ones.
      It's should be ok

  27. Hello! From Singapore here. I just bought a reasonably sized wire of Spanish moss. The moss hangs from a wire shaped in a circle. However I hang the moss on my window, and one face of it directly touches the window. In the day I open the windows to let the wind flow through and when I water I have to move the plant a little to soak it in a bucket of mineral(unchlorinated) water. Am I doing it wrong? I hope to know before my plant dies out! It's really expensive here.

    1. By the way my window faces the north, so there's no direct sunlight except some reflection of the orange, 7 am sun from the window facade of the opposite tower.

    2. Indirect sunlight is OK as long it's not heavily shaded.

    3. You are not doing it wrong but it's not going to be easy for you either...
      Moving in and out?

      Watch and see...
      If nothing drying up at the top part then its OK.
      If it's not..
      Then do find me in Facebook and message me.
      I need to see the pictures to explain what to do next.
      Spanish Moss might not do so well behind a window but there are exceptions.
      Good luck

  28. I used to have lots of them beautifully hung on the branches of my gardenia tree just like how they grow in the swamps of southeastern United States. It was a bliss to watch them swaying when the wind blows. Sadly (regretting a lot), I had to cut the tree to give way for some extension to my home. I picked the moss and transferred them to a hangers covered with husk ropes. They were doing fine initially, but then later on...I don't know why, the top portion in contact with the rope started drying off leaving only black thread like structure, This attracted bird to pick them up to build nests. Slowly they vanished in thin air. Now, I am left with just a handful of them and they don't seem to be growing happy and healthy like they used to and I am completely helpless. I am kind of clueless what I am doing wrong. The only thing I haven't tried is to transplant them from rope coated hanger to a plan metal hanger. Should I try this? Is the rope catching to much of moisture which leads them to rot?

    1. I think the rope had leached off some chemicals that had caused them to die.
      Please don't use any metal hangers.
      Instead find a wired coat hanger which is flexible and you can use start with that

    2. placing the moss on the insulated part (never on a bare metal less it's start to rust and cause more damage to the Moss)

      Do find the time to submerge the Moss every one hour after the Moss had drip off and dried.
      Do this for 5-6 times
      It will take a whole day but the results are really worthwhile.
      Do it on a bright sunny day.
      Once you do this - you will have a nice volume of the Moss and you get to enjoy back like a huge curtain.

      And be cautious about using fertiliser.
      Unless it's specifically stated for airplants, even then - try with a weak solution first.
      Too strong and will end up loosing the whole bunch.
      Good luck

  29. Thanks great summary, I am in south Louisiana where it is essentially a weed. The brown/black parts are dead but can be used to attach long strands. Here it seems to grow on dead branches or near water sources.

    1. Great!
      Basically they thrive near a humid areas especially around a water source

  30. James, I'm going to be growing my Moss in a inside plant room. Living in Maryland, winter would surely kill it if I planted outside. Do you think think it would grow on a horizon hung chain and soaking it may be a problem too, hope misting with a sprayer will do ?

  31. Hi James,

    Well done on this write up. I am bookmaking this site.

    I just love the look of this plant.

    Just picked up some Spanish Moss and was wondering does it matter with way it hangs?

    Rob, Queensland, Aus

    1. It does matter.
      After years of experience but again..it also depends where you are growing them.
      I'm in the tropical region..so it's not natural for them to survive..
      Every bid of details matters.

  32. Hi James,

    Recently I bought a Tillandsia Fuchsii v. Gracilis, and the seller gave me a little bit of Spanish Moss for free (not a lot, about 3 strands).

    She initially rolls that 3 strands of Spanish Moss (like a overlapped O) on the wire frame that holds together both the air plants. After I came across your blog, I re-adjusted the Spanish Moss so that they are positioned straight from top to bottom. Just want to know is this correct?

    And I also would like to know that could so little of Spanish Moss survives?

    I would like to add you in Facebook and show you the photos of it. However I couldn't find you. Please reply if you read this. Appreciate that if you could shed some lights in helping my Spanish Moss grows.

    Best regards,
    Skitty from Malaysia

    1. Yes,you did it right by correcting it.
      Nurseries and growers will do all sorts of arrangements..
      They don't die but they don't grow to it's optimal either.

  33. Oic... Thank you for your reply, James 😊

  34. Hello from Sunny South Africa.
    We call Spanish Moss OLD MANS BEARD here.
    Am definitely wanting to grow some.


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