That Ol’ Moss


When I was growing up, my mom had a plant growing outside in an old enamel dishpan.  It required very little care and it “came back” every spring. By the end of summer, it was trailing down the sides of the pan. Mom didn’t know what it was,  and I never knew how she came to have it. But I always liked it.

Whatever happened to the old dishpan and the plant, I can’t say. Looking back, I wonder why I never asked Mom for some of it for myself. I’m sure she would have shared.

Through the years, I had always kept an eye out for it. I never saw it at any greenhouses or nurseries and never saw it growing in anyone’s yard.

Until about five years ago.  I took an elderly friend to visit a neighbor, and I spotted it. She also had hers planted in an old dishpan. (Maybe it should be called the dishpan plant?)  She probably thought I was a crazy person, the way I ran from the car to get a closer look at it, then ran back to her asking what it was.  She said: “you mean that ol’ moss? I don’t know what it’s called”. Her name for it was ‘that ol’ moss’.

But she had lots of it growing around a couple of trees. (Guess you don’t HAVE to grow it in a dishpan.) And she offered me all I wanted. I was so excited to finally find it.

Now I have it growing in areas all around my yard. This picture was taken a little over a month ago.

This picture of the same area was taken yesterday.  That ol’ moss is fast-growing stuff. It makes a great ground cover, and in a few weeks, will briefly have tiny yellow flowers.

And yes, I even have some growing in an old enamel dishpan.

21 responses to “That Ol’ Moss

  1. I remember that old dish-pan with that “ol’ moss” sitting beside Mama’s back steps. How many things do we wish we’d asked our mothers now that we can’t??

  2. I Have never seen this growing anywhere nor anything called by that name. Is it good in our heat???? Maybe I will get a piece from you and try my hand, which I am known to kill a snake plant!!!!!! love u

  3. What a great story. I really like it’s texture and I bet the yellow flowers are very cute on it. How long do the flowers last? Just through Spring?
    I’ve been pouring over books, trying to get ideas for landscaping materials, least of which would be a ground cover that blooms. (Got a project here that needs to be done that would be better off under the supervision of a professional.) I highly doubt your Ol’ Moss would be happy in our zone 4/5. I’m going to see if, just by the pictures, I can find it though.

  4. I could send you some, Dianna! You could try it: nothing ventured, nothing gained. It takes the heat well, and unless we go long periods without rain, I really don’t have to water it. Our temps don’t get nearly as cold in the winter as yours, though….. The yellow flowers only last for a couple of weeks, but I love the greenery too!

    • You are SO nice. I don’t even know what to say!

      I clicked on one of the pictures yesterday to get a closer look. I believe it is, like some have said, a type of succulent. At first the only thing I could find in my Jung Seed Catalog that looked remotely like it is a plant called Sempervivum aka, Hens and Chicks. Jung says that mixed variety is good from zone 3-8, Full sun.

      And then, wanting to know more, I ended up here: and found a picture with a description of a plant called “Ragwort vine”. It looks an awful lot like your Ol’ Moss!

      So even though it would make it through our winters, I’m looking for a plant that loves total shade, so now I know succulents are off my list. However, I now have some other ideas thanks to you and your very cute Ol’ Moss!

      You are just the nicest ever to offer to send me some and I thank you!!


  5. Such a great story! – and I like the name “that ol’ moss” .. think we should stick with it !

  6. What a warm, wonderful story. That ol’ moss is gorgeous!

  7. And I am fortunate enough to have some of that ‘ol moss. Love it in my antique tea kettle you shared. My new cuttings are doing well. I call it “Dianne’s ‘ol moss”.

  8. oh, i want some!

    my mother had the old enamel dish pans – we’d haul them out 3 times a day to do the dishes on the kitchen table. 🙂 one wash, one rinse, then us kids waiting at the end of the line with white dish towels to dry… thanks for the memory!!!

  9. i was just asking my sister the other day, if grandma still had her old enamel dish pans! what an odd coincidence. she used them to raise her bread in.

    your ol’ moss looks like a succulent which wouldn’t stand much of a chance of coming back here in wisconsin. ;o)

  10. Shirley Matthews Dunn

    I don’t think I have every seem any, but it is a very pretty ground cover.

  11. I love the old enamel dishpan – I don’t think I’ve ever seen one before. I would love to get some as planters. What great character it has.

  12. It almost looks like Hen and Chicks. Well, the chicks anyways.

    It’s some kind of succulent. I. Must. Google. It.

    Very pretty and it does like to take over, doesn’t it?

  13. I have two of Mama’s dishpans; one is too good to use as a planter and the other has lost most of the bottom because it was used for flowers. I also have one of my own; they made great tubs for bathing babies.

  14. I don’t know if you will even read this comment since this was almost a year ago that this was posted but I thought I would try. I don’t know what this moss is either but I absolutely love it. My great grandmother used to grow this and then passed some of it on to my Granny and she grew it in a dish pan like yours and in a big black kettle. My Granny passed away in January 2011 and my mom brought home the moss and kettle and dish pan and gave some of it to me as well. We are both in love with it but really wanting to know more about it. This is the first place I have been able to find someone else who actually had the moss. So funny that your mom grew it in a dish pan as well. This is only my 2nd year to grow it so I don’t know anything about how to care for it. Any chance that you can share how you take care of yours? Do you trim it back when it dies in the winter? Thanks so much for any information you can share.

  15. It is goldmoss sedum…we had this in our yard when we bought our house. I sprinkled pieces around the kids’ sky fort for a nice sturdy ground cover that never needs mowed!

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  17. I love this story so much, Dianna. I can just imagine your joy at seeing this plant again and feeling that connection to your mother. Wonderful.

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  19. So excited! I finally have a name for this! My mom gave it to me years ago & had no idea what it was. I love it because it grows like wild wherever I put it – BUT if I want to move it (as I often do) – it just pops right up- gone! Then I throw that clump down where I NOW want it & it’s golden. Thanks so much for the post – and thanks, md above, for the name – Goldmoss sedum.
    And to think your friend’s neighbor called it “That Ol’ Moss” – very close to “Goldmoss”. I just love everything about this!

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