How to preserve moss.

I’d like to start us off today with a poem.

Moss is soft
Moss is green
Moss is where the wormies scream
when you on them step
by accident

by karen
copyright 2014

I’m not sure how much screaming they actually do when you step on them considering they don’t make a sound when you accidentally cut them in  half with a shovel, but poems are meant to evoke emotions more than truth.  Like political campaign commercials.

So moss. That’s what we’re dealing with here today on The Art of Doing Stuff.  I’ve been preserving moss for about 8 years now.

You’ve probably all either seen or bought Reindeer Moss (which is actually a lichen).  It’s a soft, fluffy moss used as filler in planters and flower arrangements.  It’s usually died a lime green colour.  Nice, but not completely natural.  Like my hair.

Preserved reindeer moss is also very expensive.  Like my hair.  So when we went up to the cottage a 8 or so years ago and I saw reindeer moss growing all over the cottage property I figured I’d grab some and figure out how to preserve it once I got home.

Turns out it wasn’t very hard, but finding reliable instructions to do it was.   Therefore, because I like to share all that is good, easy and crafty in this world I have for you today 2 easy ways to preserve any moss.

I’ve used this technique with both Reindeer moss (which we have established is indeed actually a lichen) and regular button moss.


The first method I’m going to show you is the one I can absolutely guarantee works. I used this particular technique 8 years ago to preserve some Reindeer moss and some button moss and both types are still as soft and pliable as the day I picked them.

You’ll need Glycerin and Methyl Hydrate (or Denatured Alcohol).

Glycerin is available on the shelf in drugstores ($5.99)

Methyl Hydrate (or Denatured Alcohol) is available in hardware stores (can’t remember how much … but it’s cheap)

How To Preserve Moss 1

Pick the twigs and leaves out of your moss and send the party goers home.
How To Preserve Moss

Mix together 2 parts Glycerin with one part Methyl Hydrate.

How To Preserve Moss 3


Stir it up with your tongue.  Just joking.  Please don’t do that.


How To Preserve Moss 4


Place your moss in the bowl and leave it for 10 minutes or so to absorb the mixture.  If only half of the moss is being covered just flip it after 5 minutes.

How To Preserve Moss 5

After the 10 minutes are up, remove the moss, squeeze out the excess mixture and then transfer the moss to another container to drain.  Once it’s drained, place on a paper towel for more drainage.

Repeat this process keeping new moss in the mixture and draining the already soaked moss.


How To Preserve Moss 6

The moss may feel like it’s going a little bit crunchy at first. That’s just the methyl hydrate removing the moisture from the moss. Don’t worry. It’ll turn soft again. Don’t fiddle with it and crunch it up. Just leave it.

Leave your moss on towels (paper or otherwise) to dry for the next couple of days. Once you can feel it’s soft and pliable but not wet, put it in bags or plastic containers until you want to use it. It will stay soft and pliable forever now.

The second technique which I tried and worked (but can’t guarantee it will keep moss soft for years) is slightly different.

For this method of preserving moss you need Glycerin and hot water.

One part glycerin, 2 parts HOT water.

How To Preserve Moss 7

Mix together the Glycerin and hot water. The point of using hot water is it will help the moss more easily absorb the glycerin.

Put a batch of moss into the mixture and leave it for an hour (or until the mixture has completely cooled)

How To Preserve Moss 8

You may need to weigh the moss down to ensure it’s completely covered by the hot water/glycerin solution. Just put another bowl over the moss and weigh it down with a brick.

How To Preserve Moss 9

If you don’t have a brick, just use whatever you have handy.

How To Preserve Moss 10

To repeat this process with another batch of moss you have to reheat your water and glycerin solution. I dumped mine into an old tupperware container and just heated it up in the microwave. You could also reheat it over the stove.

The second technique using only hot water and glycerin has kept the moss soft for a few days now, but I have no idea if it will hold up as well as the glycerin/methyl hydrate solution over time. For now, so far so good.

Like I said, this technique will work with any moss.

How To Preserve Moss 11

Mossy moss
You’re soft and squishy
With this solution

by Karen
copyright 2014


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  1. Vicky says:

    The spider makes me nervous. I don’t like them.

  2. says:

    love those brown turdy looking mossies….what are they???

  3. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    Interesting stuff…that includes the bowl of whatever is handy. You must be full of it…
    I, too, want another corner!!!! Cabinets, please. You keep teasing us.

  4. West Coast Nan says:

    “foreverishy”, my new favourite word! I am going to work that into a converstation…

  5. Ruth says:

    I got totally distracted by your weights (not that I have moss in my neck of the woods anyway)… but let’s talk about those suppositories. Do they work as well as the ointment? Inquiring minds would like to know…. ;-D

  6. Feral Turtle says:

    You are definitely a true poet! Thanks for the laugh this morning!

  7. Ev Wilcox says:

    Though some of us wanted another kitchen corner, I did like your weights!

  8. Mary Werner says:

    How very smart of you to get a copywrite for those poems! You make me laugh even without saying anything like what you used for bowl weights. Looks like we could use a tutorial on 101 ways to use glycerin!

  9. jainegayer says:

    I was planning to plant roses today but now all I want to do is preserve moss. It would look so nice in my with my orchids. OK, I need a life!

  10. I was all set to dive right in and preserve moss. We legit have about 100 acres of the stuff. Then.I.saw.the.spider.

    Ha! I think it is a better idea for you to come here and stay in the treehouse while preserving moss. Problem solved.


    • Karen says:

      I think that is not a better idea, lol. The treehouse part sounds good. But being stuck in it preserving moss like I’m on some sort of mossy chain gang is not. ~ karen!

  11. Suzanne @ Le Farm says:

    So, wondering why you can’t just air dry it since it just sits still when in use? I guess I mean that if it turns brittle, no one should notice if it is in a flower pot? But, I’ve only used moss outside, still living, so I have limited brain space taken up with such thoughts. Thanks for the DIY!

    • Karen says:

      Mainly because you’re right. It turns VERY brittle. You can’t even touch it because it crumbles. Also, because most people change their planters or flower arrangements or whatever, it’s good to have something that you can take out and use again. If it’s dry you can’t do that. The other thing about preserving it is, because the moss is still pliable, you can mush it and bend it and form it around little plants in your planter. ~ karen!

  12. mayr says:

    How do you know this stuff?

    Also, the “whatever you have handy picture” = BAHAHAHAHA!

  13. Tigersmom says:

    Whatever you have handy – hehehehehe.

    Didn’t the weight of the brick or handy items smush the moss and misshape it or is moss way tougher than I’m giving it credit for being?

    I, obviously, have had very limited experience with moss.

  14. JennyW says:

    Can we all just take a moment, and be grateful, that spiders don’t fly….

  15. mimiindublin says:

    Love your idea of “whatever you have handy” for weighing things down…but I think you’re teasing us by not showing the label on the bottle Karen!!

  16. Jacquie says:

    Love the stuff you weighed the bowl down with; made me snort water out of my nostrils. I had just taken a drink – I don’t keep water up there for such occasions. Best to clarify that I feel.

  17. Nancy says:

    This is so exciting! You’re a genius, Karen. I love moss but I don’t know what kinds we have. In the pacific NW there are different looking mosses EveryWhere. They sell moss killer by the tons. So sad. Did y’all know moss blooms in the spring.? It does. Tiny white fairy flowers. I going to try and preserve blooming moss.

    • Margaret K. says:

      The plant with white flowers is not an actual moss – it’s related to pinks and chickweed, although its common name is “Irish moss”. It might not respond as well to to the glycerin/alcohol treatment, particularly the flowers. You can glycerin tree leaves, though the process is a little different. I hadn’t seen this suggested for moss before – learn something new all the time.

      • nancy says:

        Oh thanks for the info. I am from Louisiana, we only have Spanish moss. I have to try preserving Irish moss anyway, it’s part of the TAoDS attitude.

  18. Debbie says:

    I love this post and wish I’d known about this three years ago when I had to buy a bunch of expensive moss for hats a friend and I were making for Saratoga Hat Day. The hats had little race horse trains going around the brim and a working water fountain in a gazebo on top of the hat. We won first place. The moss was for decoration with little flowers around the race track on the brim. Yes, we wore the hats all day and they stayed on our heads.

    I love the line: “It’s usually died a lime green colour.” The clever use of “died” rather than “dyed” is sheer brilliance!

    After three hours of lesson planning, I go to sleep with a smile on my face. Thank you!!!

  19. Kat says:

    I do not want to preserve moss even though I am crafty that way but your post today intrigued me as I have a cool bottle of glycerin (it is one of those dark brown glass bottles from the pharmacy 20 oz. in fact) in my fridge that I bought a long time ago (I was going to make a new revolutionary skin mosturizer) and I know the expiration date is long gone but have no idea how to dispose of it? I think I will secretly dig a hole in the back yard and dump it in killing all worms and sucking the moisture out of them. LOL!!! Not really but what the hell am I going to do with it?

    • Mary Werner says:

      Glycerin is a by-product of turning oil into fuel industry and is used by road department to “water” down the dusty dirt roads – suppose to be completely biodegradable and is great for your hands. Stampers use it to refresh their ink pads and can be used for embossing. Great product and cheap. Don’t think it needs refrigeration nor would there be an expiration date.

  20. Laura Bee says:

    Once again ~ you have changed my life. Or at least given me another bit of very, very useful knowledge.
    Just last week I picked up a piece of bark with a little moss on it & the next day it was dead! The fairies have been mad all week.
    Your poetry is brilliant.

  21. Amie Mason says:

    Very interesting! I’ve never used moss for decorating but I do I love using sphagnum moss for creating terrariums. Is sphagnum moss available to buy over there Karen?

    You might enjoy this:

  22. Cynthia Jones says:

    That FB site is Old Moss Woman’s Secret Garden. Methinks you may be part fey. Like a wise woman who would live in the forest in olden days, making stuff, fixing stuff and trying to avoid that bunch of guys coming up the path with pitchforks. :)

  23. Pat says:

    I wanted another corner of the kitchen.

    • Liesl Joubert says:

      Me too

    • Ev Wilcox says:

      Me too!

      • Rondina Muncy says:

        And instead we got … moss.

        That alright by me because I actually purchased a little container of moss for the very first time a couple of weeks ago. This is Texas. I’ve never seen moss grow on anything. It’s growing like crazy on the window sill, but I don’t know what to do with it. I can replace all the fake moss in my glass succulent containers with it, but otherwise I’m clueless. I’m also clueless as to how to keep this stuff alive and multiplying. Any help would be appreciated because it’s not like they sell this stuff all the time.

  24. Cynthia Jones says:

    Just for readers in Australia, denatured alcohol is called Methylated Spirits here. The manufacturers started tinting it purple years ago in an attempt to stop people drinking it for a cheap buzz. I guess that might change the colour of the soaked moss slightly but not too much. I have spent many hours doing Important Faerie Work decorating my letterbox, mushrooms and teacups with fake moss and glue. This is a great chance to try something new. Hmm….I wonder if spraying this mix onto stone or brick that is moss-covered would preserve it outdoors. Check out Old Moss Woman on Facebook, Karen. Another lover of moss and mushrooms.

  25. Jamieson says:

    Classy picture lol. Just another silly day at the orifice?
    An Ode To This Post
    Here’s a picture of some sphagnum,
    With some cream for itchy bag, mum.

    That’s as far as I got.

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