Sphagnum moss should not be confused with peat moss. Although both are obtained from bogs, sphagnum moss is the live moss that grows on top of a bog, while peat moss is the decaying matter harvested under the layer of sphagnum moss. Knowing this, one can understand why sphagnum moss resources are more quickly renewed than peat moss.
The sphagnum moss plants are pale green to deep red. They form dense clumps, have no anchor roots and grow up to 12" tall. The leaves are like sponges; they can absorb up to 20 times their weight in water and can retain that water for a great length of time.
In the floral industry, sphagnum moss is used to line wire baskets because it provides good aeration to the roots. It is also routinely used as packing material for protecting plants during shipping, used as a soil amendment for growing orchids, and to start seeds that are difficult to germinate. Because it is a sterile material, it protects young seedlings from damping-off disease. The absorbent properties of sphagnum moss saves water and reduces leaching of nutrients, so less frequent fertilizing is required.