Lichens are slow-growing organisms found in some of the most inhospitable places on earth but most commonly on woodland plants, rocks and soil. As such, a lichen makes a logical and interesting addition to a rock garden. Lichens are a combination of two plants, an alga and a fungus. These plants combine and form a symbiotic relationship, with each plant benefiting from the other. Lichens take years to grow and are very fragile, and they suffer from mishandling during collection. With proper care, a lichen will survive collection, allowing you to transplant and grow it in your own garden.

Stream in the wilderness
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Lichens grow on wet rocks and trees.

Step 1

Mist a lichen with water to wet it thoroughly before collection. Wet lichens are easier to handle.

Step 2

Break off a small piece of a lichen to collect it. Leave behind more lichen than you take. This allows the remaining lichen to repopulate.

Step 3

Place the lichen in a paper bag to transport it to your garden or another site. Fold the top of the bag over to keep the lichen from drying out.

Step 4

Put the lichen on a moist rock or log in your garden. Over time, the lichen will grow and spread across the rock.

Step 5

Spray the rock and lichen with water several times per week. Lichens need moisture to grow.