Sphagnum Moss or peat moss – what’s the difference?


You may have seen big sacks of sphagnum peat moss in the garden centre or head about some of the environmental concerns about it being harvested.

So, naturally, you may be concerned or confused about our sphagnum moss products. Let us go over the difference between the two ways you may have seen sphagnum moss being sold.

What is Sphagnum?

Sphagnum moss is a common kind of moss with over 350 different species. It generally grows in the Northern hemisphere in places such as Scotland, Ireland and Canada. It is also commerically harvested in New Zealand.

These varieties of moss typically grow in bogs, and the bogs are sometimes drained to make the harvesting easier.

Sphagnum is used as a substrate, decoration, in crafts and for moss poles. It can hold 20x its weight in water and is very tolerant. You can bring moss that has dried out back to life in some cases.

Sphagnum Moss vs. Sphagnum Peat Moss

Sphagnum moss is the live plant which lives on the surface. It can grow by about 2-12cm per year. When this moss is picked, it is cleaned so that is free of debris and highly water absorbent. The moss can then be sold loose, compressed, dead or alive.

When the lower parts of the plant die, this accumulates at the bottom of the bog. This dead and decayed material, along with various other organic matter such as bits of other plants, insects and anything else becomes what is known as Sphagnum Peat Moss.

To make harvesting the Sphagnum Peat Moss easier, the bog is often drained which causes environmental concerns. The peat moss at the bottom of a bog can be thousands of years old and so it cannot be easily replaced.

Where is our moss from?

Our moss comes from two primary locations. We have agreements in place with a landowner in the highlands with a substantial area to pick from. Some areas in this land has been previously harvested for peat moss and was also used for quarrying. We hand pick our moss and take care not to overpick so that the local environment is not disturbed.

Our other source is through another landowner who also has an agreement with the foristry commission. This land is a controlled forest and so the moss can be freely collected as it would be torn up for forestry operations. This is a sustainable cycle as the trees are replanted and the forest is regrown.


Hopefully this helps clear up the two different ways sphagnum moss can be harvested.

We operate at a small level of operation, personally picking much of our moss as well as using small independent suppliers for our other sources of moss.

We believe that importing masses of moss from places like New Zealand when we have ample supply right at our doorstep is a waste of energy and inefficient.

Our moss is a beautiful example of sustainable, fresh moss that has done nothing but improve the habitat of the plants it has been used with.

We hope you found this article useful, please contact us if you have any more quesitons!

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