Covering bonsai soil with moss is a great technique for indoor exhibits. Covering your bonsai’s bark with moss is almost never a good idea. Moss weakens bark by keeping it moist. For trees on which bark denotes age – Japanese black pine comes to mind – moss can quickly ruin a tree’s appearance. In autumn, when dew begins to fall, moss grows quickly. It’s a good time to get the problem in check.
Moss on the trunk – what to do!
Tweezers are great for plucking unwanted moss, but tweezing can cause as much bark to flake off as moss. 50/50 mixtures of water and vinegar are great for killing moss on your trees, but it does little to remove the moss when it dies. How to proceed?
Several years ago I posed the question to Daisaku Nomoto, a very talented bonsai artist from Miyazaki who apprenticed with Kihachiro Kamiya. I remember the tenor of the exchange well – Nomoto was adamant: “You must remove the moss.”
“How?” I asked, “with tweezers?”
He replied, “But you can’t use tweezers or bark will fall off.”
“Moss die, but you must remove the moss.”
“But,” he said with a smile, “you can’t use tweezers.”
After several minutes of the like, Nomoto’s tautology lost its charm and I let the topic die. Vinegar and tweezers are clearly important weapons in the battle against unwanted moss, but as to their proper application, I’ll say no more.
Subscribe to Bonsai Tonight
New Posts Delivered Every Tuesday and Friday
Janet Roth says
Sigh… I was hoping that you would know the magic trick.
Mike Pollock says
I guess we have to take our trees to a bonsai professional to remove the moss… 🙂
Bruce Winter says
I would certainly like to know, in a rain forest it’s moss and lichen city!
The Japanese equivalent of “who’s on first”. Great story. Only one option left, give to the Rainman and let him solve it!
nomota’s games grow tiring. Hate the word games. It would be beneficial for the art of bonsai if this bit of knowledge were shared. Maybe he didn’t know the answer and was embarrassed by his lack of skill in this area.
John Kirby says
The answer is, there is no simple answer. Daisaku is a quality, extremely talented, person and Bonsai professional. If it were easy, there would be a kit on ebay. John
Janet Roth says
John – never respond to a troll. It only encourages them.