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Selaginella Martensii (Martens’s spike moss) Plant Care 101

Selaginella Martensii (Martens’s spike moss) Plant Care 101

Today, we will tackle another plant from the genus Selaginella, which contains about 700-800 different species. 

However, only a few of these species were chosen to make good houseplants. 

Today’s plant, Selaginella martensii, is one the chosen few. Just as Selaginella apoda that we treated a while back. 

Selaginella martensii also goes by the name of Martens’s spike moss. 

One thing that needs to be said upfront is that Selaginella martensii care is actually pretty difficult, as this plant has very specific needs that need to be met.

One aspect of Selaginella martensii care that is somewhat problematic is to provide the plant with the right temperature and an adequate amount of humidity. 

This is also why it is recommended to keep Martens’s spike moss in a vivarium, if possible. Constant temperature and constant humidity is easy to provide in that kind of environment. 

Now, without further ado, let’s take a deep dive into the world of Selaginela martensii. 

How Not To Kill Selaginella Martensii


Selaginella martensii CARE BASICS

As always, we will start with some basic plant care tips for the plant in question. This overview will provide you with the most essential tips to keep your Selaginella martensii both happy and healthy. 



When it comes to choosing the right soil for Selaginella martensii, the task at hand is pretty easy, as this plant is not very picky in this regard. U can simply use a general potting soil mix.

That should do the trick. A regular potting soil mix in good quality has all the crucial properties to ensure the healthy growth of your Selaginella martensii.

Aim for a soil PH value between 5 and 6. If you are unsure about the soil ph, there are a couple of ways to find out the actual value. 

The easiest way to determine that value is to check the packaging of your potting soil mix. There, you usually find an indication about the soil pH. 

If you mixed the soil ingredients by yourself, then that probably won’t work. In this case, you might want to get a soil pH meter to determine the pH value of the soil

These meters generally offer a lot of value for the money as they often feature 3-in-1 functionality and like this, besides soil pH, you can also easily determine soil moisture and adjust sunlight intensity



The amount of light that your plant gets is often crucial. If it does not get enough light, it may not survive. If it gets too much light, your plant might die as well.

Luckily, Selaginella martensii is rather forgiving in this aspect. 

But tell me then, how much light is ideal for my leafy friend?

As far as Martens’s spike moss is concerned, it is best kept in a semi-shady location.

Therefore, medium light generally yields the best results. But Selaginella martensii can also survive in low light. 

But what is medium light?

On most houseplants websites, you will only hear low light, medium light and maybe once in a while high light. And if you are an experienced plant parent that info might be sufficient.

However, if you are a beginner, you deserve to know what is meant exactly by medium light. 

What is meant by medium light is usually bright, indirect sunlight, typically with a western or eastern exposure

As we also mentioned that low light might be sufficient to keep this evergreen plant alive, here is what low light stands for: 

Low light for your houseplant means that it does not get any direct light. And typically, that means that the location of your plant will be a few feet away from the light source.

There are only a couple of houseplants that can actually survive in low light, such as the ZZ plant, the Snake plant and Cast iron plants. Plants that do well in low light are usually dark green




Selaginella martensii is one of these plants that likes to be watered thoroughly

Use soft water when watering these plants whenever possible. Rainwater and distilled water are both fine.

If the leaves of your Selaginella martensii are very droopy, it could very well be that your plant is in desperate need of water. 

When watering, also make sure that you are providing your spike moss with lime-free water. Just as azaleas, gardenias & orchids, Selaginella plants generally do not like limy water. 



Selaginella martensii likes warm temperatures in summer (20 to 25°C degrees / 68 to 77°F). 

In winter, the temperature should be kept between 10 and 15 degrees  ( 50 to 59°F).

You can keep them at normal room temperatures as well as at colder temperatures. However, the ideal temperature for Selaginella is around 13 to 18 degrees (55 to 64 °F).



Selaginella martensii prefers high humidity. This is one of the reasons why this plant is perfect to be kept in a vivarium. Also, you could keep this leafy friend in a bottle garden or some other sort of glass container to ensure the humidity needs of your spike moss are met. 

Another hack to increase the humidity for your green companion include, as always, putting the plant container atop a trey with damp pebbles. 

At this point, please note that a pebble trey only makes sense if you are using a container that comes with drainage holes!

Also, misting your plant on a regular basis will play in favor of a humid environment for your miniature evergreen plant. 

It is fair to say that high humidity is probably the key factor in keeping your leafy friend healthy and classy.

The relative humidity for Selaginella martensii should not be lower than 60 percent. Around 80 or even a little higher is best.

As for the location of your Martens’s spike moss, the bathroom is probably your best bet, as it usually the room that provides your plants with the highest humidity (but even there, you will need to further increase the humidity with either a trey with damp pebbles, regular misting, etc.!).

This is why plants such as Aloe Vera, Bamboo, Cast-Iron plant, Chinese Evergreen, Crotons, Dumb Canes & and other plants that demand high humidity generally do well in a bathroom environment. 

If are interested in reading more about plants that are suitable for your bathroom, please have a look at our article: The 12 Best Houseplants for your Bathroom




During the growing season, feed this lycophyte every other week. As far as feeding your houseplants go, it is better to err on the side of caution, which, in this context, means that less is often more.

Over-fertilization can be deadly for your plant, while feeding too little is usually not a big issue.  



Martens’s spike moss can be propagated by cuttings

Propagation through division is also possible. 

For both methods of propagation, i.e. by cuttings or by division, spring is the most suitable time. 



Selaginella martensii has compact growth and usually reaches a height of 20 – 30 cm and gets just as wide.



Pruning Selaginella martensii is often not even necessary, as this lycophyte does neither grow tall or wide. Pruning is, therefore, only necessary for design reasons or to remove dead leaves



The general rule of thumb for Selaginella is to actually repot once it outgrows its container. 



Propagating Selaginella martensii

Selaginella martensii can be propagated through cuttings

Selaginella can also be propagated through division

For both methods of propagation, i.e. by cuttings or by division, spring is the most suitable time to create Selaginella babies.




Overall, the Selaginella martensii is easy to keep healthy. This does not mean, however, that they are invincible. With the wrong conditions, these Aizoaceae members can fall victim to a number of diseases and other problems. Here are the most common:



Cause: Possibly underwatering. 

Remedy: Root rot is a serious problem for Selaginella martensii. They can’t sit in water for too long, or else the whole plant will take damage. To go about solving this problem, one would need to carefully remove the plant from the soil and let the roots dry out. After a few days, the Selaginella martensii can be repotted with a less aggressive watering schedule implemented. 



Plant pests & diseases are luckily not a big issue for Selaginella martensii.

Generally speaking, this spike moss is not prone to disease

Insect pests are also very rare with Selaginella martensii.

When kept in a greenhouse, slug damage is a common problem with this plant. 




Selaginella martensii is not exactly a low-maintenance plant. For the well-being of your martens’s spike moss, you will want to make sure to follow these 6 tips. 

  1. Keep your Selaginella martensii in a semi-shady spot
  2. Selaginella makes for a great Vivarium plant. If you do have one, put it in there!
  3. High humidity is key for the well-being of your Selaginella
  4. Don’t let the temperature get below 16 degrees
  5. Don’t use limy water to water your leafy friend
  6. If you do keep this plant outside, make sure to take it inside before the first frost


Selaginella martensii FAQ


What are some other Selaginella species that are suitable as indoor plants?

Only a couple of Selaginella are currently cultivated as indoor plants. One of these is Selaginella apoda. Selaginella martensii care is pretty similar to Selaginella apoda care, however, not identical. Another species of Selaginella that is found in people’s homes is Selaginella kraussiana. Yet another Selaginella that is popular with houseplant enthusiasts is Selaginella lepidophylla (also known as Resurrection plant).


What are some other names for Selaginella martensii?

Selaginella martensii is also known as Martens’s spike moss and creeping moss. 


Can I grow Selaginella martensii in terrarium (vivarium)?

Growing Selaginella martensii in a terrarium rather than on your window sill or any other place in your home is actually recommended. To keep your Selaginella martensii happy is much easier when grown in a terrarium, as it is easier to meet the specific requirements, such as high humidity and constant temperature, that these plants have. 


How many Selaginella species are there?

The Selaginella family includes about 800 different species. However, only a few are cultivated as indoor plants. 


What’s a good location for my Selaginella martensii?

Selaginella martensii likes it humid and warm. So, if kept indoors, the bathroom could be the perfect location for this miniature evergreen plant.


Where can I find Selaginella martensii online?

Selaginella martensii is less popular than other Selaginella species such as Selaginella uncinata (Rainbow moss), Selaginella lepidophylla and Selaginella kraussiana, which can usually be found on Amazon or Etsy. In fact, Selaginella martensii can actually be pretty difficult to find (online). Etsy and Amazon does not currently sell them.


Are there variegated versions of Selaginella martensii?

Yes. There is, for instance, Selaginella martensii “Variegata”. This variegated version looks very similar in shape, however, it features silvery-white leaf tips. Then, we have Selaginella martensii “Watsoniana” that features light green leaves with silvery tips. 


Any display tips for Selaginella martensii?

These mossy looking lycophytes are great for basket displays. They are also suitable for display in bottle gardens and all sorts of glass containers. 


What are some interesting variations (cultivars) of Selaginella martensii?

When searching on the internet, you will most likely stumble upon Selaginella martensii “Jori” (Martens Club moss) which features interesting, yellow-green leaves and Selaginella martensii “Frosty” which comes with beautiful foliage featuring white tips if the right conditions are given.

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