Spanish moss is one of the most misunderstood plants to have ever graced the South. Homeowners new to states like Georgia or Florida often panic at the sight of young moss festoons in their lovely established trees, spending hundreds of dollars on chemical tree spraying treatments that often prove to be unnecessary. Naysayers are quick to blame these ethereal tendrils for the death or damage of a tree, but are these complaints really justified?
Safe Spanish Moss
Contrary to popular belief, this controversial plant is not a parasite, pest, OR an invasive – these Spanish moss myths need to be eradicated! Spanish moss is just an epiphyte, otherwise known as an “air plant”. These incredible natives don’t take any nutrients from a tree, all of the necessary nutrients come straight from the air.
Spanish moss doesn’t kill trees, but it does prefer trees that are already dying. This is probably why so many Southerners hate this plant; confused homeowners often get so distracted by the mysterious strands of Spanish moss that they forget to look for signs of the real culprit – usually a completely unrelated pest or disease.
Save your money and hire a certified tree service to check for signs of decline before you spend your money on a tree moss spray. You may even find out that your “Spanish moss” is actually a harmful impostor.
When to Worry
Spanish moss may not be a tree killer, but it’s not completely harmless either. When moss becomes too abundant it can actually deprive the tree of sunlight, eventually killing branches below. Heavy tendrils absorb a LOT of rain, weighing down branches and snapping the weak ones. However, these problems aren’t directly related to the moss – you can prevent all of these dangers by using a rake to pull down overgrown clumps.
So don’t be so quick to judge these special plants which have inspired southern poets and painters for centuries – Spanish moss can cause a few problems here and there, but the legendary landscapes of the south just wouldn’t be the same without this gentle epiphyte. Unless you really hate the way it looks, save tree sprays for another day – let the local birds and wildlife enjoy this beneficial moss while they still can!