Are Mosses OK in an Outdoor Enclosure?

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Oxalis
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Joined: 22 Jun 2017, 20:20
Location: Michigan, U.S.
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Are Mosses OK in an Outdoor Enclosure?

Post by Oxalis » 20 Feb 2021, 05:24

Since it's winter and I have a new space for an outdoor tortoise garden, I'm doing some planning. I'm thinking that I may want to cover some spaces with a low-growing plant, like moss or a succulent, to visually break up areas around rocks and other plants. I was looking for something Steve (the tortoise) could easily walk over but not be overly tempted by, like Sedum. I haven't really researched native mosses yet, but if Sphagnum spp. is a safe genus (from peat moss), I can start with that. Where I would ever be able to find live moss at a store, I am at a loss. Any suggestions would be super helpful! :D

USDA says Sphagnum compactum is native here: https://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov/core/pr ... bol=SPCO70
I <3 Stevie, my Russian tortoise!

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Nina
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Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Are Mosses OK in an Outdoor Enclosure?

Post by Nina » 20 Feb 2021, 10:30

Hi Mekie,

Great to hear from you, and I hope that Michigan isn't under piles of snow and ice like a lot of the rest of the country!
Sphagnum moss should be absolutely fine to plant, and it won't harm Steve if he eats some. Here is our entry for it:
https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/pla ... DDhbXmnyM8
I think you might have to plant it in shady areas, as it could dry out in hot sunshine, but if it's native to your area then it should grow well.

I'm amazed you say that sedum is a plant that Steve wouldn't be tempted by! What a character he is. Most tortoises absolutely love sedum and will eat it to the ground. I once made a little tunnel for Doris out of a curved roofing tile, and thought I'd cover the top with soil and make it into a sedum roof (I think I used Sedum album and maybe Sedum reflexum). I put up a little barrier of log roll all around the roof so that the plants could take hold, and one day I came back to find Doris had barged her way through the barrier and had eaten almost everything that I'd spent weeks growing. Lol, I didn't try that again. Have attached a photo of the culprit caught in the act (it was not long after I got her, and her shell was still quite bumpy, which you can see in the photo, but subsequent years have seen really smooth growth so the bumps have almost disappeared). Maybe Steve is a more discerning tortoise and won't eat your sedum down to the ground at the first opportunity.

The only other thing I can think of that is fairly low growing is the ground cover type of Campanula (but again mine wouldl eat that in a heartbeat).

I'd love to see some photos of the enclosure when it's finished, and if I can think of anything else that would suit your purpose, I'll post it.

Nina
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