Christmas Moss Emersed: Will It Grow Outside of Water? Is It Easy to Grow?

Vesicularia Montagnei, or Christmas Moss, is an aquatic moss that can grow in or out of water. It looks fabulous in a planted tank and gives cover to and food for fry, small fish, and invertebrates. Many confuse it with Java Moss, which looks very much like Christmas Moss.

Where is Christmas Moss native to?

Native to Asia in places like India, the Philippines, Japan, and Thailand. Christmas Moss grows underwater in streams, creeks, and shady riverbanks. It affixes itself to submerged sunken branches, rocks, and tree boles. Sometimes it floats free on surface water.

Will Christmas Moss grow outside of water?

Christmas Moss will actually grow quicker out of the water, this is what growing Christmas Moss emersed means. But most moss grows out of the water anyway, so it will thrive quite well in this situation.

But you have to keep it moist at all times or it will shrivel up into an early grave. So, it needs some sort of consistent source of water that’s cool and flowing, as indicated in the water parameters above.

Propagate the plant on some mesh or nylon and put it in a container or paludarium so that it will come in touch with a source of nutrients. You can achieve this by using a substrate that will provide such things.

Is it easy to grow Christmas Moss?

So as long as Christmas Moss has all its requirements, it’s very easy to propagate and grow. Once it establishes in your tank, there’s not much you have to do to maintain it. This makes it a great aquarium moss to start with for beginner aquarists.

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The only measure you have to be tedious about is keeping the water free and clear of pollution, like ammonia. Unfortunately, this plant does not like dirty water and will begin to choke if left unattended.

What are the general care tips for Christmas Moss?

There are a few tidbits to keep in mind when caring for Christmas Moss, in the beginning, to get it started and established in your freshwater tank. But, once it takes hold, it takes on a life all its own. You only want to make sure the water is free of pollution with a bit of pruning now and then.


Because of Christmas Moss’s root system structure, it is very shallow and can absorb nutrients right from the water.  This means the plant can grow almost anywhere. So, there’s not particular substrate or media you need for it. So long as there’s a clean flow of water, they will survive.


Another awesome fact about Christmas Moss is that they can sit anywhere you want them to in an aquarium. Many people like to put it on the bottom to create a beautiful, lush green carpet. But other people will put it on the back or sides of the tank because small fish and fry love to hide there.

To create a wall-like effect, attach the plant to mesh material, fish netting, or create something similar out of fishing line. You can encourage its growth on things like driftwood, tree roots, and stones. All of which will enhance the aquascape of your tank.

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You could also allow some to grow as a free-floating clump in the water itself. This will give it a wild and untamed look with a sleek hiding spot for smaller fish.


Although Christmas Moss can grow in almost any lighting condition and situation, its rate of growth does depend on how much light it receives. The brighter the light, the better the results will be but you don’t want to expose it to too much bright light for an extended amount of time because it will harm the plant.


With a rhizoid root-like arrangement, Christmas Moss draws up nutrients through its stems and leaves. It loves flowing water that stays in a temperature range between 65°F and 77°F. Always make sure Christmas Moss stay clear of saltwater or brackish waters. The water should be fairly soft with a pH balance ranging from 5.5 to 7.5.

Plus, it has to have a consistent and gentle water flow. So, it’s a good idea to keep it near your tank’s filtration system. You also want to safeguard the Christmas Moss against too much pressure from water currents. It will still grow, but there will be problems with shape, form, and speed of growth.


Like almost all plants, Christmas Moss requires some pruning. Trim the plant every so often to keep it in shape and to encourage a specific form, if that’s something you want to do. Be sure to clear out any dead growth, browning leaves and etc.


Dividing, or propagating Christmas moss is easy to achieve and pretty fast. All you have to do is take the original plant and cut it into tinier clumps. With a fishing line or cotton thread, attach the new pieces. After a couple of weeks, the new moss clumps developing their rhizoid root system which results in the plants securing to the area. Once it establishes, it begins to grow.

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Is fertilizer required for Christmas Moss?

Fertilizer isn’t necessary to care for Christmas Moss but it doesn’t hurt to add a little Co2 and liquid fertilizer to keep it happy and to encourage faster growth. But the plant doesn’t need these things to thrive.

Are there any problems with growing Christmas Moss?

The only real issue with growing Christmas Moss is algae. This is very common and it will accumulate on the plant’s leaves. Once algae are present, it’s very difficult to remove. Providing a good water flow and maintaining regular water changes keeps algae at bay.

You can also get some tank mates that love to eat algae for ecological control and feeding. Flying Foxes, Siamese Algae Eaters, snails, and shrimp will eat algae from Christmas Moss without hurting the plant. Cherry Shrimp are also another friend you could introduce as a sort of environmental cleaning crew.

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