Peat Moss

What is the difference in value between peat moss and peat? Between domestic and imported peat?

Peat moss is moss (usually sphagnum) in an advanced state of disintegration; peat is a product of some kind of vegetation (not necessarily moss) largely decomposed. Domestic peat is usually of sedge origin, although we have some sphagnum peat in this country. Imported peat is usually sphagnum peat. Unfortunately, the terms peat and peat moss are used interchangeably in garden shops. Sedge peat is of less value than that from sphagnum.

Does peat have any value as a fertilizer?

Yes, but it is very slowly available. Domestic sedge peat contains up to 3% nitrogen. Sphagnum peat (“peat moss”) contains less than 1% nitrogen. It is slower in availability than the sedge peat. Do not rely on peat or peat moss for fertility. Use in conjunction with fertilizer.

Is peat moss good for flower gardens in general?

Yes. When dug into the soil, it helps retain moisture, and in other ways increases productiveness.

When is the best time to use peat moss – spring or autumn?

Apply any time that soil is being worked if humus is needed.

Is it true that peat moss worked into the soil will make a heavy soil lighter and will cause a light soil to hold more moisture?

Yes. In this respect its action is similar to that of compost or manure.

As a winter protection is peat moss considered as good as straw or leaves?

No. Peat moss as a mulch can blow away, or at the opposite extreme, it can mat together, forming an impenetrable barrier against water. It is better used as a soil additive.

What is the best way to use peat moss in flower gardens?

Work it into the bed.

I use peat moss as litter in my hen coop. Will I have to add anything to it for use in the vegetable garden?

Yes. It is desirable to add superphosphate at the rate of 5 lbs. per 100 sq. ft. of ground.

What plants can tolerate peat moss?

All acid-tolerant plants (azaleas, hydrangeas, oaks, coniferous and broad-leaved evergreens, etc.). Most other plants benefit through its use. Alkaline-loving plants are the exception. But adding lime (about a quart to a bushel) offsets acidity.

Why doesn’t peat moss freeze?

If sufficient moisture is present, peat moss freezes. If perfectly dry, its fluffiness provides an air cushion.

In the propagation of certain plants on a large scale, I need to have about 1/4 of my soil mixture consist of peat moss. Is there any suitable substitute that could be found in the South Carolina low country?

Well-rotted compost is best or you can use shredded sugarcane, shredded redwood bar, or decomposed pine needles.

What is the best substitute for peat moss?

Sedge peat, bagasse (sugarcane pulp), leaf mold, pine needles, shredded redwood bark, ground barks of most trees, compost, and sawdust used in small amounts than peat.