How to Care For Selaginella- The Spikey Plant Perfect For Terrariums!

Hello there! Let’s take a moment to explore the fascinating world of Selaginella. These little green wonders, often referred to as spikemosses or clubmosses, may look like mosses, but they’re actually a type of primitive vascular plant.

With their tiny, scale-like leaves and a knack for thriving in various environments, Selaginella brings a touch of nature’s magic to gardens and indoor spaces. Get ready to delve into the intriguing realm of these unique plants and discover their remarkable features.

What is Selaginella?

Selaginella is a genus of plants commonly known as “spikemosses” or “clubmosses.” These are not true mosses, but rather primitive vascular plants belonging to the division Lycopodiophyta. Selaginella species are characterized by their small, scale-like leaves, which often overlap on their creeping stems, giving them a fern-like or mossy appearance.

Selaginella plants are primarily found in tropical and subtropical regions around the world, growing in various habitats such as forests, rock crevices, and even as epiphytes on trees. They are known for their ability to thrive in humid environments.

One interesting feature of Selaginella is their ability to undergo a process called heterospory, which means they produce two different types of spores, typically male and female, leading to the development of distinct reproductive structures. This characteristic sets them apart from true mosses, which reproduce via spores but do not have separate male and female structures.

In horticulture, certain Selaginella species are grown as ornamental plants due to their attractive foliage and unique appearance. They are often used in terrariums or as ground cover in shaded garden areas, adding a touch of greenery and texture to indoor and outdoor spaces.

What Are the Different Varieties?

There are more than 700 different varieties in this plant family. We cannot discuss all the 700 varieties right now. So, here are the topmost and most common varieties of Selaginella across the globe.

Selaginella Kraussiana

This variety is also known as club moss or spike moss. These spike mosses are found in the tropical forests of Southern Africa. This variety comes with a unique appearance and foliage.

One of the unique things about this variety is that the stems quickly cover the soil and form a dense covering.

Moreover, the leaves of this variety are bright green. These leaves also grow about 1 inch in height. Instead of growing upwards, these leaves grow in a horizontal direction and cover the soil. Gardeners often prune these leaves to stop their horizontal spread.

Selaginella Stauntoniana

The second most popular variety of this plant is Stauntoniana. This is most commonly found in China. This variety comes with an evergreen appearance. The entire foliage is dark green and comes in a triangular shape. The stems are of chestnut color. This variety can grow as high as 8 inches.

In addition to this, Stauntoniana is known to grow slower than other varieties. The horizontal spread can cover as much as 12 inches of soil. This variety flourishes in the woodland ground and dry places.

Selaginella Lepidophylia

This is one of the most popular varieties of this plant. It is also known as the “Resurrection Plant.” It is most commonly found in deserts. So, you can find this variety in the Chihuahuan desert near Mexico.

As far as its appearance is concerned, this variety comes with dense clusters and dark green leaves. These clusters have a scaly appearance. This variety can grow as high as 3 inches and as wide as 6 inches.

If you are thinking of growing spike mosses in your home, Lepidophylia should be the ideal option to get started. The reason is that this variety does not need a lot of maintenance. You can grow and care for this variety with a little water and sunlight.

Why is it known as the Resurrection Plant? This variety can run completely dry and turn brown. Once it’s completed dry, it turns itself into a ball. However, you can quickly revive it with water. So, it resurrects itself from the dry ball and turns into a beautiful green plant once again.

Selaginella Uncinata

This is yet another variety that is found in China. It is also known as the Peacock Spike Moss. The reason behind this name is that this variety comes with bright iridescent and blue-green leaves. This looks beautiful and resembles the color scheme of a peacock.

The leaves come in an oblong shape and are very fragile. This variety grows as high as 3 inches. This plant also serves as the perfect ground cover as the foliage can quickly create a dense and bushy mat on the soil. This variety requires high humidity and tropical environments for maximum growth.

It grows better in moist soil. Therefore, you will see this variety in a vivarium or an aquarium with high moisture. The thick foliage and covering of this plant also offer a perfect hiding place for many insects and reptiles.

What Are the Plant Characteristics?

There are over 700 varieties of spike mosses. These varieties come with unique characteristics. However, some common appearance traits can be observed in all the varieties of this plant.

In general, these plants have scale-like leaves. These leaves also have veins running through them. The most common color for these plants is a dark green color.

However, some varieties may also appear blue-green due to environmental factors. If these plants are grown in the shade, they might get a blueish hue. On the other hand, if these plants get direct light, they come with a greenish hue.

These plants are also known as ground cover plants. This is because these grow in a horizontal direction or cover the nearby soil or trees. If left unaddressed, these plants can quickly cover the surrounding garden or landscape. Therefore, gardeners tend to prune these plants every other month. Spike moss care is challenging if you don’t understand its requirements.

Another unique feature of these plants is that the roots can spring directly from the stems. There are several names for these plants:

  • Spike Moss
  • Trailing Moss
  • Spreading Club Moss
  • Arborvitae Ferns

An Overview of Selaginella Care Requirements

Learning how to care For selaginella is a bit tricky! These come with a unique set of requirements. The maintenance routine may differ from other plants in your garden. These plants require moist soil, a high humidity environment, and continuous water access for maximum growth.

These plants also thrive in indirect sunlight. So, these plants need maximum heat but minimum sunlight. This is why partial shades and full shades near taller plants serve as an ideal place for these plants.

The surrounding soil should be moist at all times but not dripping wet. These plants require a moderate amount of water to keep on growing without any issues.

The surrounding temperature should be between 55 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit. However, you can keep these at room temperature in colder months. The ideal soil PH value for these plants is between 5 and 6. Professionals recommend keeping the humidity levels above 60% in the surrounding regions.

In addition to this, these plants only require one feeding session every week during the growing season. Too much fertilization can kill them. On the other hand, you can address the “too little feeding” issue with ease. USDA hardiness zones six or higher are ideal for planting these plants.

Light Requirements

The majority of these varieties are known to grow best in indirect sunlight. The surrounding region should be bright enough to offer good exposure but save these plants from direct sunlight.

Some varieties are known to grow best in shades. However, these plants are best known to achieve maximum height and growth in bright yet indirect sunlight.

If you want to plant these varieties in your garden, you will need to ensure that you plant them near a tree or taller plants. This way, these varieties will have enough exposure throughout the day. Moreover, the taller plants will also offer enough shade to protect these varieties from direct sunlight. The heat should not dry these plants out.

If you want to plant these inside your house, you will need to plant them near a window. You will also need to ensure that these plants are in a brightly lit room.

These plants should be away from places where direct sunlight hits throughout the day. These only need maximum heat but should be protected from direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can quickly dry these out and kill them.

Watering Requirements

These plants demand moist soil and humid environments. As discussed above, a handful of varieties can also live without moisture and thrive in desert areas. However, most varieties require continuous watering and a humid environment to thrive and grow without issues.

These plants require the surrounding soil to be continuously moist. However, the surrounding soil does not have to be dripping wet. On the other hand, it should be continuously moist so that these plants do not dry out.

The unique watering requirements make them ideal for zones 7 to 9. These zones come with high humidity levels and moist soil throughout the year. If you want to plant these varieties in your garden, they will require continuous watering and high humidity.

If you want to grow these plants in an indoor environment, you will need to control the underlying conditions. You can utilize window gardens or terrariums for growing these plants in your house. You will also have to continuously mist the plants to maintain a high level of humidity.

The continuous misting process will keep the soil moist. Moreover, this misting process will also offer enough moisture for the leaves and air in the surrounding region. Professionals recommend planting these varieties in groups. This way, you can control the humidity levels in an indoor environment.

Plant Soil Requirements

As already discussed, the type of selaginella soil around these plants should be moist throughout the day. However, the surrounding soil should not be dripping wet.

The soil should be moist in a moderate manner. Too much water can kill these plants. Too little water can also take a massive toll on spike mosses. These plants need to soak water throughout the day to achieve maximum growth.

Some varieties are also known to grow without any moisture requirements. These varieties can grow in deserts and rocky areas.

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02/18/2024 06:57 pm GMT

However, the majority of the varieties for this plant require continuous moisture and access to water. Therefore, the surrounding soil should be kept moist.

If you plan on adding garden selaginella to your outdoor garden, you should make sure that the surrounding soil does not go below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This will dry out these plants and kill them.

Similarly, if you plan to grow these plants inside your house, you should keep the surrounding soil moisture throughout the day. You can use a water spray can or a jug of water to keep the soil wet.

Location and Temperature Needs

These plants require warmer temperatures than other plants in your garden. So, you will have to ensure that the surrounding temperature remains between 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 25 degrees Centigrade). These are the ideal temperature levels for the summer season.

Selaginella plants require an ideal temperature of between 50 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 15 degrees Centigrade) in the winter season. You can also keep these plants at room temperature during the winter season. Professionals recommend an ideal temperature of 55 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit (13 to 18 degrees Centigrade) for these plants.

As far as the location is concerned, these plants do not require any picky conditions. You can use a general potting soil mix. The ideal soil PH value should be between 5 and 6.

You can check the label on the potting soil mix to check out the PH value. These plants thrive best in USDA hardiness zones six or higher.

Special Requirements

There are minimum “special” requirements for these plants. These require high humidity and soil moisture around them. Therefore, you only need to maintain high humidity levels with misting or continuous water spray.

You can also use damp pebbles at the bottom of your soil mix to maintain and retain a high moisture level. Professionals recommend keeping the humidity level above 60% at all times.

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Plant Feeding and Fertilizing Requirements

You will only have to feed these plants every other week throughout the growing season. So, these plants do not require continuous feeding or fertilizing sessions as other plants in your garden.

You should keep an eye on your fertilization levels as too much feeding can kill your plants. On the other hand, too little feeding is not an issue. When you see your plants turn brown, you can start putting in more fertilizer than before to maintain their health.

Additional Tips for Success with Selaginella

Here are some additional plant maintenance and caring tips for these plants. These will further help you maximize their growth levels. These tips will also help maintain a high level of health among your plants.


A general potting soil mix will work wonders for these plants. However, the soil PH level should be between 5 to 6. Moreover, these plants thrive best in USDA hardiness zones six or higher.

You can use mall stones with the soil mix to maintain a high humidity level for these plants. These plants grow best in humus-rich soil or soil meant for ferns.


There are no strict pruning requirements with these plants. Pruning will encourage the growth of new roots and stems. It is not necessary as these plants mostly grow in horizontal directions.

So, if you are worried about the stems and branches forming a dense mat in the surrounding region, mild pruning can help you.

These plants do not grow too tall or too wide. Pruning is only required to eliminate any dead leaves from the plants. The elimination of dead leaves will encourage the growth of new leaves. So, mild pruning sessions every other month are ideal for these plants.


You can propagate these plants by cuttings. Some gardeners also utilize the division approach for necessary propagation requirements. Professionals also recommend using these propagation methods during the spring season.

If you opt for propagation methods during the winter season, your plants will become vulnerable to

the harsh coldness of the surrounding regions. It may end up killing the plants. So, you can propagate these plants by cuttings or division during the spring season for maximum growth.


These plants do not dictate any harsh repotting requirements. Therefore, professionals recommend that you should only replant these when they outgrow their existing containers. Otherwise, you can leave these plants in their original containers without any issues.


One of the best things about these plants is that they rarely become vulnerable to pests. So, you will not need any pesticides with your plants unless there is a major problem. On the other hand, nutrient deficiency is a real problem with these plants.

If the surrounding soil offers too much acidity or a lack of necessary nutrients, your plants will soon start to die. The leaves will start turning thin and brown. Once you notice this behavior in your plants, you should have the surrounding soil tested.

If you continuously find your plants dying or showing unhealthy foliage, you should replant these in humus-rich soil. You can also use organic matter to enhance the number of nutrients in the soil and address nutrient deficiency.


These plants are not toxic. Therefore, these do not pose any threats to humans and pets alike. If you do ingest the leaves, you will only feel mild indigestion issues or vomiting. Other than that, there have been no reports of any toxicity associated with these plants.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are the topmost questions regarding spike mosses.

Q: What Should You Do If You Notice Droopy Leaves In Your Selaginella?

A: Droopy leaves indicate underwatering. As already discussed, these plants require high humidity levels and continuously moist soil. So, if you observe any droopy leaves with your plants, it is due to underwatering. Root rot is a common problem for these plants.

To eliminate droopy leaves, you can adjust your watering schedule and offer more humidity for your leaves. However, overwatering can also be harmful to these plants. So, pace yourself with your watering schedule.

Q: What’s The Ideal Location for Planting the Creeping Moss?

A: These plants prefer a humid and warm environment for maximum growth. If you want to plant these in your garden, the ideal location would be near a tree or taller plants. This way, these plants can enjoy maximum heat without direct sunlight.

If you want to keep these plants in an indoor environment, the bathroom will serve as an ideal location. This way, your plants can continuously stay moist and enjoy high humidity levels for maximum growth. They work perfectly as a living shower wall in the bathroom area.

Q: Are Selaginella Expensive?

A: No. These plants are not expensive and will not break your bank. In addition to the actual cost of these plants, the care routine is also not as expensive as other plants.

Therefore, you will only have to spend a couple of dollars on the purchase of these plants. The maintenance will also require a couple of dollars every other week. If you love gardening, this plant is ideal for you.

Q: Which Species Of Creeping Moss Are Suitable For Indoor Cultivation?

A: The “Apoda” variety is ideal for indoor environments. Kraussiana and Martensii are also ideal for indoor cultivation. The reason behind this is that these varieties require minimal maintenance and caring for an selaginella for maximum growth. High humidity levels should do the trick.

Q: Is Selaginella Toxic for Pets?

A: There are no known reports of toxicity towards humans or animals. According to the American Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), these plants do not pose any threat to any animals.

These do not offer a high level of toxicity toward cats, dogs, or other pets. Moreover, these plants also thrive in a vivarium or an aquarium. So, you know that these plants are perfectly acceptable around lizards, frogs, and other reptiles.

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