Plant Type
Sunlight Amount

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Irish Moss

Traffic-friendly Irish moss is a great little plant for blanketing the ground around flagstones or along the edges of gravel paths where plants sometimes struggle to grow. Don’t worry about treadling lightly on Irish moss—it will bounce right back from occasional damage. Handsome, lush, deep green foliage forms a soft, cushy mat that is evergreen in many climates. Irish moss blooms in spring and has a light fragrance.

Perfect for creating a barefoot-friendly path, Irish moss is also a wonderful plant for rock gardens, where it forms a soft carpet of evergreen color among rough-and-tumble boulders. It is at home in trough (stock tank) gardens and container plantings, where it will slowly creep to cover open soil. Its delicate, ferny foliage is also a favorite for fairy gardens. Growing just about 1 inch tall and boasting pretty white flowers, Irish moss is a nearly perfect plant for petite dish gardens.

genus name
  • Sagina subulata
light
  • Part Sun
  • Sun
plant type
height
  • Under 6 inches
width
  • 3-8 inches wide
flower color
season features
problem solvers
special features
zones
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
propagation

Irish Moss Care Must-Knows

Irish moss grows well in average, well-drained soil. In cool climates, select a full-sun planting site. In hot Southern climates, plant Irish moss in bright shade. A spot that receives morning sun and afternoon shade is a good choice in Zones 7 and above.

Plant Irish moss in spring or early summer. Situate plants about 10 inches apart; in ideal conditions, they will grow together to form a carpet of color in a couple of seasons. Plant Irish moss closer together for faster cover. Prolonged periods of hot, humid weather are not good for Irish moss. It thrives in cool, somewhat dry environments. Don't be surprised if it dies out in the heat of summer in humid areas.

A Weed to Some

Irish moss is sometimes called pearlwort and is considered a weed by many golf course professionals, nursery growers, and greenhouse managers. Pearlwort pops up in turf grass and throughout nurseries and greenhouses, and it's sometimes tough to eradicate. In the average home lawn and landscape, it does not create a weed problem.

More Varieties of Irish Moss

Golden Irish moss

Sagina subulata 'Aurea' makes 1/2-inch tall mats of fine-textured tiny yellow leaves. Solitary white flowers with five petals appear in summer on 1 1/2-inch stems. It is hardy in Zones 4-7.

Plant Irish Moss With:

Catmint is one of the toughest perennials you can grow. It's a proven performer during hot, dry weather, and the silvery foliage and blue flowers look great most of the season. Deadhead or cut back hard after first flush of bloom to encourage more flowers. Average, well-drained soil is usually sufficient. Tall types may need gentle staking; it sometimes seeds freely.As you might guess from the common name, catmint is a favorite of cats. They'll often roll around in the plants in delight.

Easy and undemanding, veronicas catch the eye in sunny gardens over many months. Some have mats with loose clusters of saucer-shaped flowers, while others group their star or tubular flowers into erect tight spikes. A few veronicas bring elusive blue to the garden, but more often the flowers are purplish or violet blue, rosy pink, or white. Provide full sun and average well-drained soil. Regular deadheading extends bloom time.

Introduce scenery from the Greek Isles to your garden with lush plantings of thyme. This sun-loving, drought-tolerant herb carpets hillsides in Greece, thriving in well-drained soil. Drought conditions concentrate the aromatic oils in thyme, so the drier your growing conditions, the better. In your garden, tucking plants into raised beds or mulching them with gravel will give thyme the conditions that cause it to thrive and be flavorful.The flowers beckon honeybees, so add thyme near vegetable gardens to assure an ample supply of pollinators. Shear plants back after bloom, cutting off about a third of stems. With dainty proportions, thyme suits containers or the tight growing quarters between stepping stones.Thyme introduces a savory flavor to dishes, such as roasted vegetables, soups, and sauces. It is also a key ingredient in bouquet garni, fines herbes, and herbes de Provence. Use thyme to enhance poultry, beef, pork, or seafood. This herb also adds a kick to cheese and egg creations. Thyme's oils take time to be infused into dishes; add thyme early in the cooking process to release the greatest flavor.