Sphagnum capillifolium

Common Name: sphagnum moss 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Sphagnaceae
Native Range: North America, Europe
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 0.25 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Wet
Maintenance: High
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Water Plant, Naturalize
Leaf: Colorful
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Wet Soil


Requires consistently wet, boggy, acidic conditions in full sun to part shade. Shadier conditions will result in plants with a green coloration instead of red. Plants take on the deepest red color in winter. Water with rain water, distilled water, or reverse osmosis water if your water source is alkaline or has high levels of dissolved-solids (hard water). Hardy in Zones 3-9.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Sphagnum capillifolium, commonly called small red peat moss or red bog moss, is native to Canada, the northern United States, and parts of northern Europe where it is typically found in acidic bogs, heaths, and occasionally wooded fens. This is a small to medium-sized sphagnum moss that forms dense carpets or hummocks of up to 5' across, with slender stems up to 1' long. The length of the stems and size of the colony depends on a number of factors including the depth of the water table, nutrient levels, and competition with other plants. As such, the plant may be much smaller or larger than what is listed here. The stems are topped with a slightly domed, terminal head of young branches that is typically red in color. In shady areas the plants will take on a green or mottled red and green coloration. Identification of moss in the field can be challenging. Microscopy is typically required for a positive identification at the species, subspecies, and varietal levels.

The genus name Sphagnum comes from the Greek name for a different moss that was then applied to this group of plants.

The specific epithet capillifolium means "hairy leaved", and may refer to the appearance of the branches of this species which are densely covered in tiny, narrow leaves.


No major pest or disease problems of note. This plant has very specific cultural requirements that must be met for successful propagation.


Bog gardens or terrariums.