The native habitat for Spanish Moss includes two regions, Tropical America and the Southeast United States.
Spanish Moss is commonly referred to or known as an air plant. Air plants are also known as epiphytes, meaning they derive sustenance from the surrounding air. They are not parasitic or directly harmful to their host, relying on trees or other structures for support only. However, they can inadvertently cause problems to the tree host. If too much moss grows on a tree, then this can restrict the amount of sunlight that the host leaves receive. They can also add considerable weight when wet and increase the trees surface area. The increased surface area can prove detrimental during high windstorms of hurricanes.
Spanish Moss seems to prefer Southern Live Oaks and the Bald Cypress over most other trees. This is due primarily to the mineral leaching that occurs on the previously mentioned species. This leaching process provides nutrients that the moss finds beneficial for growth.
Spanish Moss is relatively easy to grow. The most common ways are by division or even from seed. As stated earlier, this moss is epiphytic, so soil is not required. As long as they are kept in a warm area, have good air circulation and water is provided, these plants will thrive. The surrounding temperature should be sixty degrees or higher. Partial sun is preferable.
The uses for Spanish Moss are varied. It can be used as a mulch, a packing material, insulation or for arts and crafts. If commercially grown, it can be used as a stuffing for mattresses or furniture. During the first half of the twentieth century, moss was even used as packing for automobile upholstery. Moss picked directly from trees should not be used for stuffing or bedding as they may contain pests such as chiggers or red bugs. These insects may be removed by microwaving or boiling the moss for several minutes.
Tips for taking care of your Tillandsia Usneoides (Spanish Moss). Spanish Moss thrives outdoors in cool, shady locations with good air circulation. If your moss turns brown or does not look healthy, see the optimum requirements below:
1) Temperature; Spanish Moss prefers daytime temperatures below 75 degrees.
2) Air Circulation; Spanish Moss is not a terrarium plant. They can not tolerate dampness or high humidity in enclosed environments. Hanging the plant is an excellent way to promote drying and allow ample air circulation.
3) Sunlight; Spanish Moss requires very little direct sunlight. Best location is within 8 feet of a north or east facing window exposed to two to three hours of bright, but indirect, sunlight per day, preferably in the morning.
4) Moisture & Humidity; Spanish Moss is a moisture-loving plant. Misting the moss every day with cool water will keep it moist. However, humidity and water are not as vital as air movement.