We want to hear from you! Please take this short, anonymous survey to help us improve the DG home page.

Irish Moss, Pearlwort

Sagina subulata

Family: Caryophyllaceae (kar-ree-oh-fil-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Sagina (sa-JI-nuh) (Info)
Species: subulata (sub-yoo-LAH-tuh) (Info)
View this plant in a garden


Alpines and Rock Gardens



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


under 6 in. (15 cm)


6-9 in. (15-22 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)


USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade



Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer


Grown for foliage


Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Birmingham, Alabama

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Berkeley, California

Cool, California

Manhattan Beach, California

Menifee, California

Clifton, Colorado

Keystone Heights, Florida

Cherry Valley, Illinois

Machesney Park, Illinois

Mount Prospect, Illinois

Plainfield, Illinois

Tinley Park, Illinois

Wyanet, Illinois

Ewing, Kentucky

Gaithersburg, Maryland

Manchester, Massachusetts

Waltham, Massachusetts

West Newton, Massachusetts

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Howell, Michigan

Royal Oak, Michigan

Las Cruces, New Mexico

Honeoye Falls, New York

Sag Harbor, New York

Raleigh, North Carolina

Baltimore, Ohio

Cincinnati, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio

Columbia Station, Ohio

Fremont, Ohio

Mill City, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Redmond, Oregon

Albion, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Conway, South Carolina

Greer, South Carolina

Jackson, South Carolina

Clarksville, Tennessee

Haltom City, Texas

Kaysville, Utah

Syracuse, Utah

Mc Lean, Virginia

Newport News, Virginia

Camano Island, Washington

Kirkland, Washington

Spokane, Washington

Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Ellsworth, Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jul 7, 2015, dutchrub from Pittsburgh
United States wrote:

I grow in Zone 6 in heavy clay soils (amended as necessary) in a city prone to lots of rain and very infrequent drought. This year, the first year of planting, we have had rain nearly every weekday for several weeks solid. I bought Irish moss in combination with Scotch moss with the intent of planting along the problem areas of my retaining wall in my backyard. I have an oddly shaped, triangular backyard with a large covered patio, which overhangs my retaining wall in parts, leading to a few areas of complete to mostly shade.

I had originally planted creeping phlox in those parts, but it all starved without enough sunlight. I was in need of a creeping groundcover that would soften my wall's edges and grow low enough to not overshadow the tiered plants behind it, but it als... read more


On Mar 24, 2014, Geherty wrote:

This is a tough little plant! It's perfect for ground cover in our planting beds, it's evergreen, and never needs mowing/trimming. We water it regularly (just a daily spray with the hose) and it thrives in our southwest desert climate throughout the year. They are exposed to full sun and get no special treatment at all. We have planted both plugs and transplanted our own seedlings with very consistent results. We were sure to harden off the seedlings before transplanting for a week or more. Also, when the transplants are still small (one inch diameter), the birds will eat them. We constructed little cages from wire mesh and covered them until they spread a little beyond 3 inches in diameter, or until the birds gave up on them. We love the look, function, and maintenance-free qualities. It'... read more


On Jun 6, 2012, john_hosie from Gaithersburg, MD (Zone 6b) wrote:

OK. Both Irish Moss and Scottish Moss, which are essentially just different colors of the same basic plant. There is no doubt that, in the right environment it looks fantastic. The problems I've had with it are related to getting it to survive. As others have said, it does great in areas with more shade. This is the usual thing for real moss, so I am not surprised. But the thing that is a real problem with it is its roots. They weave around eachother, forming a dense mat. Not bad in the ground, but I was trying to use it in bonsai pots. The roots so dominate the pot that they choke out everything else. In a bonsai pot, where there really isn't a lot of space for roots to start with, this smothers the trees and kills them. Happened with about a dozen Japanese Maples this winter, as well as ... read more


On May 14, 2012, rodey from Freeport, MI wrote:

I could not grow this plant - UNTIL - I tossed some into a deep shade area of the garden. I didn't expect much to come of it and honestly ignored it.

This spring I cleaned out the garden bed and much to my surprise not only was my little irish moss spreading, it was in bloom!

It's planted in gravelly loam with the only water coming from rain and dew. I do not water it or really even give it any care at all.

It definitely does not like sun, even though they say it can handle it. For those with little success, try deep shade with poor soil!


On Jul 20, 2011, etherealsunshin from Wyanet, IL wrote:

I have started some Irish Moss from seed between stepping stones in a very shady area (maybe an hour of light at sunset) and it takes vigilant watering for it to become established, but the two patches from seed are tough, if not robust, and have come back after the last two winters (-20, zone 5). They tolerate the heavy clay, but do not thrive, and got some sand mixed in last summer when I put in a brick patio nearby, which didn't help the soil. I started some nursery plants on that same side and lost them due to underwatering and general neglect.

Last year, I started some nursery plants (3" pots) between stones on the opposite side of the house (SE exposure, 2-4 hours of sun) and stayed on top of weeding and watering--they just want a slight drink every couple days when ... read more


On May 27, 2011, freki from Hamilton
Canada (Zone 5b) wrote:

Deeper rooted than it appears. From a single planting 2 years ago I now have several thriving patches, in well drained, rich soil, full sun. As soon as it hits full shade it stops. Survives well in an exposed location in 5a. Lovely textural contrast in perennial bed, non invasive.


On Apr 15, 2011, Osteole from Lamar, AR (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have not been successful growing this plant. I've tried half-day sun with well drained soil, frequent watering.


On Jul 15, 2010, TFE from Incline Village, NV wrote:

I have planted Irish Moss in a stone path. In some places, it is doing great. In others, it seems to turn brown from the center to the outside. Don't know what's causing it. Overwater? Probably not, as we live in a very dry mountain climate.


On Jun 6, 2010, willmetge from Spokane, WA (Zone 5b) wrote:

I had this planted in a hot dry area at my last house and it did very well. It is now planted in full (but bright) shade in a moist area among hostas and is doing equally well. Seeds around a bit, but is easy to remove. One seedling showed up on a nearby rock path and seems to hold up well to moderate foot traffic. Very versatile.


On Jul 7, 2009, jess1055 from Broomfield, CO wrote:

I'd like to plant Sagina Subulata seeds in a sunny rocky border in Denver, Co. Is it possible in the summer or should I wait? Also, the soil quality isn't the greatest, am I wasting my time? Thanks to all!


On May 11, 2009, Grey_Sterling from Menifee, CA wrote:

I didn't expect it to do well, but it is flourishing where we have it. It is on the NW side of the house in partial-shade, in a corner that stays damp most of the day. Hopefully it survives the long, hot summer. :)


On Jun 27, 2008, jshriver from West Newton, MA wrote:

I live in the Boston area, and this is my first year growing Sagina subulata. I got three plants mail order. They arrived in a variety of conditions (from poor to reasonably healthy) on 4/12/2008. Over the last couple of months I have nursed them all to health. The healthy (initially planted in partial sun) has about doubled in size. I can't speak to overwintering yet. Soil here is naturally clay, though I have amended it heavily. The other two which I planted in full sun and full shade both appeared to be less than ideal. I have transplanted them to partial sun, and they seem happier. Moderate sun and lots of water till established seemed to work for me. Which makes sense to me because the root system is really shallow.


On May 2, 2008, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

This is a beautiful plant that I have tried on many occasions, but it always dies when I put it out. I have tried it in multiple places, all with different growing conditions, but it was not happy anywhere. I have a small pot of it that I over-wintered to try one last time. If it survives (and thrives) I will change to a positive experience, but I am not holding my breath.


On Mar 8, 2008, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

Tends to die on me - no matter where I tried to grow it, it keep dies back. In public gardens, they tend to develops bare spots and become unsightly if replanting and high care are not taken for this species. I live in zone 4 so hot weather may not be the cause but watering and drainage might be a problem.


On Sep 5, 2006, matt1988 from Dublin, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

I have tried this plant in both morning sun and almost full sun. It does not do well. If I keep it watered it holds it's own, but if I go a few days without watering it dries up. I am thinking of moving it to full shade.


On May 16, 2006, ladygardener1 from Near Lake Erie, NW, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:

This plant has been growing for me 3 years. Helps with a very small area between the garage sidewalk and the patio, where it can get stepped on.

One thing that I notice the seed pods; tiny soft balls, will get stuck in my dogs fur in the feet and beard. I pick them out so the hair won't get matted.


On Sep 6, 2005, ineedacupoftea from Denver, CO wrote:

A great vascular-plant alternative to true moss. (Hey, it blooms!) Sun is best. -Thicker and shorter.
Good things:
Ablolutely ideal background/mulch for small, but brightly colored bulbs such as galanthus, crocus, scilla, Frit. michailovskyi, and even fall leaves!
Great weed-discouraging green-mulch.
Very effective between stone pavers, between rocks, and your other creative ideas.

My tip: Don't get too creative and think that a patchwork or checkerboard of the species and gold-cultivar 'Aurea' will be nice: they mix with eachother and lose any appeal!


On Jan 25, 2004, pburch from Houston, TX wrote:

Spreads nicely in winter, disappears in summer, eventually dies out. Our climate is probably too hot for it.


On Sep 14, 2003, GntlKnigt1 from Tinley Park, IL wrote:

Have grown both Scotish and Irish moss in a window box with northern exposure. Needs SOME protection to overwinter (I put the window box next against wall outside building during the winter.)


On May 6, 2002, naturepatch from Morris, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

Nice mossy carpet groundcover. Looks great with other small plants. Does not seem to have any problems. Spreads nicely, but not invasively.