The name golden moss fern is deceptive as this plant is neither a moss nor a fern, but it does share characteristics of both. Like ferns and moss, this plant is non-flowering and produces spores as a primary means of reproduction. It grows just 6 inches tall with a spreading growth pattern that resembles a moss. Golden moss fern grows well as a ground cover in shady damp areas. It is also known by its scientific name, Selaginella kraussiana 'aurea,' or the common name gold clubmoss.
Plant golden moss fern in peat or humus-rich soil. A shady spot that naturally stays slightly damp most of the year is ideal. Avoid planting it in areas that experience periods of standing water or perpetually muddy conditions.
Dig a planting hole the same depth and 3 to 4 inches wider than the root mass. Slide the golden moss fern out of the nursery container and place it upright in the hole. Backfill the hole and smooth the soil under the golden moss fern.
Space multiple plants 6 to 12 inches apart. Individual golden moss fern plants reach a diameter of up to 2 feet when mature, but you may plant them closer together to get a ground cover started and then divide the plant later if they get too crowded.
Fertilize the plants twice a month. Use an all-purpose balanced fertilizer but dilute it to one-quarter the strength recommended on the package. Select a water-soluble or a slow-release formula. Discontinue fertilizing in the fall and resume in the spring.
Water the soil around golden moss ferns when it starts to feel dry on top. Soak the area around each plant down to 1 to 2 inches deep.
Divide golden moss fern in the spring. Dig up the entire root ball and pull it into sections of about 4 to 6 inches across. Replant the divisions in the garden or pot them for use as indoor plants. Replant the main root mass in the original spot.