Peat Moss vs Sphagnum Moss – Uses and Differences

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Here is a comparison of Peat Moss vs Sphagnum Moss. It is a very common problem that we sometimes get confused between plants of the same species. If you are a gardener you must have proper knowledge of plants and trees. A common person may get confused by looking at two similar plants but a gardener must know the difference.

Well, it is not possible to remember all the plant species in mind but you must know about some of the basic plant species that are similar but not identical. One of the cases is with Sphagnum moss and peat moss which are two distinct forms of the same plant, yet their effects on the environment are very different.

Technically, peat moss is sphagnum that has become soaked and decomposed. Sphagnum moss typically develops on the ground above the water’s surface. In this article, we will discuss both the parts with their properties and usage so that it would be easier for you to make differences between them.

Properties of Sphagnum Moss

  • Sphagnum Moss generally grows in acidic soil with a low pH level. With this, it can be concluded that they do not grow in an alkaline medium and resist the water having lime content.
  • They are primarily found in damp tundra regions, conifer forests, and peat bogs in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Sphagnum moss is entirely composed of living moss. Chlorophyll-containing cells in the plant’s leaves enable photosynthesis.
  • These plants have the property that you can see different parts and they have shallow roots. Simply, you can distinguish the stem from the branches and leaves just by looking at the plant.
  • The fragmentation process occurs for their reproduction. Sphagnum moss reproduces asexually when mature plants get split into tiny fragments to grow.
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Properties of Peat Moss

  • Peat moss is uniform in its makeup.
  • Its pH is low, ranging from 3.0 to 4.0. So acid-loving plants like camellias and blueberries do well in peat moss.
  • Few microbes are present.
  • Peat moss has no life whatsoever. It is free of dangerous substances like diseases and weed seeds.
  • Diseases are not prevented by peat moss

Uses of Sphagnum Moss

  • It is used to propagate plants and as a seed starting.
  • It is used to create art projects like basket lining.
  • Sphagnum moss retains moisture in the soil by holding a lot of water in its capillaries.

Uses of Peat Moss

  • They are best for gardening because they have the property of holding water that maintains the humidity level of the soil.
  • They have the property of Cation exchange which helps to hold nutrients in the soil.
  • Decreases the pH of an aquarium and aids with pollutant filtration.
  • Peat moss can be used as mulch.

For more such plant related-articles, you may also read, How to make a Moss Terrarium step by step? (Best way)

Differences between Peat Moss vs Sphagnum Moss

From the properties and uses mentioned above, you may get an idea that these forms are different. To remove some remaining doubts let us now read about the major differences between Sphagnum moss and peat moss considering some factors.

Structure

The first way to make a difference is by looking at their structures. Sphagnum moss has different parts which means you can easily see leaves, stems, and branches differently. On the other hand, peat moss has fine- a textured structure due to its decomposed parts which make it difficult to distinguish its parts.

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Regeneration

Sphagnum moss regenerates five to six years after harvesting. Peat moss, on the other hand, grows back after a very long time. There is a huge difference in the life cycle because peat moss is a decomposed form that takes time.

Usage

Sphagnum moss works well as a seed starter and is frequently used in plant propagation. Peat moss, however, is perfect for improving gardening soil. You have already seen various uses of these two above in this article which may clear your confusion.

Moisture Content

Sphagnum mosses are visible on the soil’s or wetlands’ surface. Peat mosses, on the other hand, are submerged. Peat moss is extremely well-hydrated in its natural state. It has a water content of up to 70%.

pH levels

If we talk about the acidic content of these two forms then Sphagnum Moss comes out to be more neutral. Peat moss has a pH range between 3.0 and 4.5, making it more acidic due to the tannins present in it. Sphagnum moss is more neutral than peat moss since it doesn’t contain these acidic tannins. 

We hope that your confusion has been solved. Now you can easily differentiate between Sphagnum Moss and Peat moss. Many also ask about which one to choose: Sphagnum Moss and Peat moss. Now, the thing which is best for you depends on your requirements and circumstances. 

For example, Sphagnum moss is the finest when it comes to enhancing soil drainage. Peat moss, however, is the finest if you want to sow seeds or introduce potted plants in your house.

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Concluding lines

In this guide, you come to know that Sphagnum Moss generally grows in acidic soil with a low pH level. With this, it can be concluded that they do not grow in an alkaline medium and resist the water having lime content. 

On the other hand, Peat moss is uniform in its makeup. Its pH is low, ranging from 3.0 to 4.0. So acid-loving plants like camellias and blueberries do well in peat moss. Read the whole guide to understand the differences between Peat Moss and Sphagnum Moss. 

Thanks for reading! Happy gardening! 

FAQ

Is sphagnum moss acidic or alkaline?

Sphagnum moss is acidic that has a pH range of about 3.0 to 4.0. 

Where do you find sphagnum moss?

Sphagnum moss can be found in the wetlands, peat bogs, moorland, etc. Even they get harvested in New Zealand. 

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