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What Is Peat Moss and Why It’s So Special for Succulent Gardeners?

If you are an avid succulent gardener, you might have come across a dark brown fibrous soil mix called peat moss. This organic matter has become a part of succulent grower’s go-to soil component because of its numerous attributes.

Peat moss is considered to be an excellent alternative as a soil amendment for various indoor plants like succulents, cactus and others. For succulent gardeners this soil mix is better used as a medium along with other soil components like compost, manure, perlite and others.

This helps in providing structure to the soil and eliminates any compactness that can arise over time. It also caters to various benefits like good drainage, ample aeration, acidic nature and many more.

These attributes makes peat moss an ideal contender for succulent gardeners on the lookout for a perfect soil mix. But like many of its counterparts, peat moss also has certain cons when it comes to its sustainability and non-renewable nature. Read on to find out what peat moss is and why it’s special among succulent gardeners.


What is Peat Moss?

Peat moss is a fibrous organic material derived from sphagnum moss that grows on the top soil. Due to the absence of air, this moss decomposes gradually over time in peat bogs and wetlands for over thousands of years.

The largest peat bogs in the world are found in Russia and it covers more than a million square kilometers in radius. While the largest exporter of peat in the world is Canada with over 343 millions in export value.

For peat moss to be utilized by gardeners for commercial and domestic use, it is first mined through artificial methods, and then drained after harvest. The moss goes through a drying phase and gets packaged to be sold. 

Peat moss is highly acidic in nature with low ph levels, which is perfect for drought resistant plants like succulents. It should be taken into account that though peat moss is a great soil amendment, it alone cannot support the growth of the plants.

Benefits of using peat moss:

There are many benefits of using peat moss in your potting soil mix. This is because of its easy to use texture and sterile nature that keeps any harmful bacteria’s from attacking your succulents.

Following are some of the benefits of using peat moss that can render healthy growth to your succulents and plants:

·      Retains moisture:

Peat moss has the capacity to retain moisture with its unique features. The fibrous material of the moss locks all the moisture content in the soil, keeping the succulent hydrated.

This is ideal for succulents as it retains moisture and dries out faster. This helps in preventing root rot that can damage the plant.

·      Aeration:

Succulents grow better when they have sufficient sunlight, proper water content, and a good dose of fertilizer. But most importantly when the soil mix provides ample space for aeration and drainage.

Peat moss allows the root system to branch out and grow healthy succulents with strong roots and tissues.

·      Acidic in nature:

Peat moss is a great alternative if your succulents are lacking acidic content in the soil. Succulents prefer acidic soil with a ph range of 5.5 – 6. This addition to your soil can help in balancing your potting mix accordingly.

·      Soil composition:

Soil like sand or clay, mixed with other components can tend to become hard and compact over time. This can lead to your succulents losing its required nutrients.

Peat moss when added with other soil components provides structure, uniform composition and improves soil texture.

·      Sterilized soil amendment:

Does your succulent potting mix contain various other unwanted matters like chemicals and weeds? With peat moss there is no worry about external elements penetrating your soil.

This is because this organic matter is drained and completely dried before packaging. It is sterile, clean and can be directly used by succulent gardeners in the potting mix.

·      Soilless mix:

Peat moss is a perfect alternative if you are looking for a soilless medium to grow your succulents. This dense fibroses material allows the succulents as well as other plants to grow without the use of soil.

Hydroponics method is popularly implemented with the use of soilless mediums like peat moss and others.


Disadvantages of using peat moss:

Even though peat moss has various beneficial attributes, it also has few cons. Succulent gardeners use peat moss as one of the soil mix but not as the only soil component when growing plants.

Following are some of the disadvantages of using peat moss in succulent gardening:

·      Lacks natural nutrients:

Peat moss does not contain any natural nutrients like compost or perlite. The fibroses material of the moss provides certain structure and texture to the soil, but does not consist of any microorganisms that can help the succulents.

·      Highly acidic:

Though succulents grow best in acidic soil, too much can do more harm than good. You can use peat moss in limited quantities to derive the required results without harming your plants.

·      Cost inefficient:

Compared to other potting soil mix like compost, manure, rice hulls etc, peat moss is expensive. As the process of extraction is through artificial, sterile methods, peat moss is considered to be cost inefficient for large scale use.

·      Non-renewable resource:

Peat moss can take over thousands of years or more to gradually form into the moss we use in our garden; hence it is considered as a non-renewable reserve.

There are only certain regions of wetlands and peat bogs in the world where these moss can be extracted, making them not only non-renewable but also non-sustainable resources.


How to use peat moss in succulent gardening?

Implementing peat moss the right way in your succulent potting mix can work wonders for the plants in terms of its growth, root systems and stability.

Following is the process that you can adopt for your succulents when introducing peat moss to the soil mix:

·      Step 1:

Succulents cannot grow only with peat moss; it requires additional nutrients and microorganisms to boost its growth. For this you can take your regular potting soil mix for succulents to begin with.

·      Step 2:

Your regular soil mix can consists of sand, clay, cinder, gravel, compost, pumice, rice hulls, perlite, etc, as per your choice.

·      Step 3:

To this you can add peat moss in the ratio of 1:2. It can be 1 part of peat moss to 2 parts of other potting soil mix. Depending on the size of the succulents or pot, you can adjust the ratios accordingly, with peat moss in lesser quantities than others.

·      Step 4:

Mix these proportions well for a balanced and rich soil composition for your succulents.

·      Step 5:

Peat moss can tend to dry up faster than its counterparts, hence frequent watering of succulents is required, with occasional use of fertilizers.

Succulents are a type of plant species that can resist any harsh temperatures and still stand strong. For these resilient plants to grow healthy and keep providing us with vibrant boughs of flowers and multicolored leaves, they need additional requirements to boost its growth.

One of the main aspects is through its soil, and peat moss can provide the perfect additional dose that can strengthen your succulent’s growth.

With its easy to handle form to its texture which it caters to the soil, peat moss is popular among various succulent gardeners making them special and exceptional.

You can follow the above pros and cons, as well as the process of implementation to induct peat moss in your succulent garden.


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