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Scotch Moss or Irish Moss: Unveiling the Key Differences You Need to Know!

Scotch moss or Irish moss are very popular plants mainly because of their unique appearance. However, what most people don’t realize is that these plants are not moss! In fact, they are a member of the perennial carnation family, which is basically a flowering plant.

What’s more surprising, is that many people believe Scotch Moss and Irish Moss are two separate plant species, when in fact, they are the same plant known as (Sagina Subulata).

Because of their names and appearance, it’s easy to see why people get confused thinking they are two separate types of mosses. However, to help you identify this type of moss the next time you see it, below are some key points to look for, and we will also share a few tips on how to care for it.

Scotch Moss Vs Irish Moss: What’s The Difference?


To start with let’s talk about this plant’s appearance. Scotch moss or Irish moss grows low to the ground and has a dense, carpet-like growth habit. The leaves are small and oval-shaped with a pointed tip that is 1 cm long and arranged in a spiral pattern.

The flowers are one of the key features to tell it apart from other types of moss. They have white and star-shaped with five petals that are 4–5 mm and the stems 2–4 cm long and bloom in the spring.


This plant has a surprisingly fine texture to the touch with blunt tips and a flat front that retains its color throughout the year. However, it’s delicate to harvest, so you might want to be gentle when picking this moss.

Growth Rates

Irish or Scotch moss tends to grow moderately, generally spreading several centimeters annually. Its average size at maturity is one inch high and 12 inches wide.

It takes around six weeks for patches of this plant to attain proper health and true color. Furthermore, it takes longer for it to grow outwards and 2-3 years to create a healthy mat.

Life Span

This plant can typically live for 4 to 5 years, though it can sometimes last for up to 10 years but only under the right conditions. For example, if this moss is exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time then it can shorten its life circle.


Now, another reason why some people get these mosses mixed up is that there are two varieties! The most common scotch and Irish moss is (Sagina Subulata) and as you know, it’s a type of land moss that blooms in the spring.

However, there’s also another type of Irish moss called (Chondrus Crispus) also known as seaweed moss. This one can be found off the coast of Europe and North America that vary in color from a greenish-yellow, through red, to a dark purple or purplish-brown.

Chondrus crispus is commonly found in health shops and is mainly used because of its unique health benefits. So it’s easy to see why people get confused!

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(Scotch & Irish Moss Flowered)

How To Care For Scotch Moss And Irish Moss?

Making sure you care for your Scotch moss or Irish moss is important to keep it alive and healthy. These plants are fairly easy to take care of, but there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  • Sunlight: Scotch moss or Irish moss prefer damp and partial shade areas as too much sun can scorch the leaves causing the plant to become dry and crispy. It’s best to keep it moist in the hot seasons.
  • Watering: You should water it regularly to keep the soil moist, but not wet. During hot weather, these plants may need to be watered daily. It’s important to make sure the plant doesn’t dry out completely as this can cause the leaves to turn brown and drop off.
  • Fertilizing: Fertilize Scotch moss and Irish moss every two to four weeks during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer. Be sure to follow the directions on the fertilizer label so you don’t over-fertilize and damage the plant.
  • Pruning: Pruning is not necessary for these plants, but you can trim them back if they become too large or scraggly. To do this, simply use a pair of sharp scissors to cut the plant back to the desired size.
  • Propagating: Scotch moss and Irish moss can be propagated by division or from seed. If you’re propagation from seed, it’s best to start them indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost date in your area.
  • Divide The Plant: To divide the plant, simply dig up a clump of Irish or Scotch moss and replant it in another location. You can also divide the plant into smaller sections and replant them as well.

Common Problems With Scotch Moss And Irish Moss

Scotch Moss and Irish Moss are two of the most popular choices for ground cover in gardens. Both plants are low-growing and require little maintenance, making them ideal for busy gardeners.

However, Scotch Moss and Irish Moss can also be prone to several problems.

Pests And Diseases

Scotch moss and Irish moss are generally resistant to pests and diseases, but they can occasionally be affected by aphids, slugs, and snails. These pests can be controlled with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

If your plant is infected with a disease, you should remove the affected leaves and destroy them. You can also treat the plant with a fungicide to help prevent the spread of the disease.

Fungal Diseases

In addition, both plants are susceptible to fungal diseases, such as powdery mildew. These diseases can cause the plants to become yellow or brown and can eventually kill them.

As a result, it is important to choose healthy plants from a reputable supplier and to inspect them regularly for signs of disease.

Where Can You Buy This Moss?

You can find Irish or Scotch moss at your local garden center or nursery. You can also purchase it online from a variety of retailers.

When shopping for these plants, look for healthy specimens that are free of pests and diseases. Avoid plants that have yellow or brown leaves, as this could be a sign of stress or disease.

Is It Poisonous To Dogs?

No, Irish and Scotch moss are not poisonous to dogs. However, it is always best to err on the side of caution and keep your dog away from all plants, just to be safe.

Important: If your dog does eat Irish or Scotch moss, he may experience vomiting and diarrhea. If this occurs, contact your veterinarian immediately!

Final Thoughts

So there you have it. Now you know that scotch and Irish moss are one of the same so it’s understandable why some people may get confused.

However, if you’re considering using this in your garden it will differently add a unique look that can last for years if you look after it.

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