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Kokedama is a Japanese form of garden art that uses moss or other natural materials to create beautiful hanging decorations. They are often used as gifts but also serve as decorative pieces in homes and offices.
If you are intrigued with the art of Kokedama, you might want to learn how to make these Japanese moss balls yourself. In that case, I think you’re going to enjoy this tutorial.
But first, you might be asking…
What exactly is Kokedama?
Kokedama, or moss ball, combines soil and plant material into a ball wrapped in moss, providing an artificial ecosystem for plants.
In addition, the moss provides moisture retention and helps keep the ball from drying out too quickly. The result of these two factors makes it possible to grow many different types of plants inside your kokedama.
I’ve seen plants including asparagus fern, staghorn ferns, bird ‘s-nest fern, grape ivy, prayer plant, lucky bamboo, and even African violets in kekedama.
Why Make Kokedama?
Because kokedama is considered a traditional Japanese art object, they make unique decorative accent pieces that can be used throughout a home or office space.
Kokedama can also be placed in a variety of vases or bowls, making each of them a unique gift idea as well.
How To Make Kokedama
Making a kokedama is easy. Making a kokedama is easy. The materials you’ll need to start with include:
- A small amount of bonsai soil and peat moss.
- Some sheet moss.
- String or wire.
- And a plant of your choice.
In a step-by-step fashion, this video will show you how easy it is to make a kokedama. Watch and see for yourself.
I hope you enjoyed the video and learning about how to make a kokedama! I’m sure you didn’t think creating a unique art form like this was this easy, even if you don’t have a green thumb.
And just to recap the steps involved…
- Start by choosing your favorite plants.
- Prepare your soil.
- Add your plant into the soil ball.
- Wrap the ball of soil with sphagnum moss and secure it with a piece of twine or floral wire.
- Enjoy your kokedama!
If you love kokedama but don’t want to make the moss-covered balls from scratch, you can use a premade moss container like this one. Just drop in your plant, hang, and enjoy!
Click Image for More Info
How To Care For Kokedama
Caring for kokedama is really pretty simple if you follow these steps.
Light requirements will vary with the type of plant you choose. Most indoor plants prefer areas with bright indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight. A southern exposure away from a window is ideal.
Watering can be done weekly by submerging your kokedama in a bowl of water for three minutes or so.
Remove excess water by allowing them to drip-dry for another five minutes before hanging or re-displaying them.
Remember to adjust the watering schedule depending on the type of plants you’ve chosen.
Fertilizing can be done during the spring and summer months, using a water-soluble indoor plant fertilizer at half-strength. Once a month, just add the fertilizer to the bowl of water and soak as usual.
Following these directions, your kokedama should last several years indoors.
Now that you’ve seen how simple they are to make, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have your own collection of kokedama. Making them is fun, relaxing, and creative – all qualities that most people appreciate. So why not get started today!
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I’m the owner of Greenfield Flower Shop in Milwaukee, with more than 40 years of experience in the floral, wedding, and event business.
Japan is the country of origin for bonsai, and it is an old, method in gardening. In bonsai a plant is grown so compact and tightly, then when it removed from its shallow base, the plant holds its well-grown roots and soil-forming a compact ball. Kokedama is a style of Japanese Bonsai where you take the plant and instead of putting it in a pot. In kokedama ‘koke’ means moss and ‘dama’ means ball where a plant’s root system is simply wrapped in sphagnum moss and bound with string, transforming it into a sculptural art form. It’s an easy alternative to bonsai.
Like most plants, a kokedama also need some light to thrive but not too much, and the amount of light needs for the kokedama depends on the type of plant. Kokedama plants are more likely to dry out if sitting indirect light since the plant is moss-based. You can display them on a plate or a dish somewhere, or you can hang them in the bathroom, above a kitchen island, or as a centrepiece on a dining room table. For outdoor spaces, hang kokedama from a pergola, balcony, porch, or other desired shady area.
It is important to avoid spots with hot or cold drafts. Because blasts of hot or cold air can make leaves turn yellow or brown prematurely, especially on more tender plants like ferns. Most houseplants appreciate a spot with average to high relative humidity, as well.
If the tips of plant’s leaves start browning its a sign that your plant needs watering and also if your plant needs water it can be determined by the feeling how heavy it is. When the ball feels light, there’s a good chance it needs to be watered. Cut off any brown parts of the plant to keep the brown from spreading. When you are watering to the plant, soak the ball in a bowl of room-temperature water for about 10 minutes.
Then transfer the ball to a colander for a few minutes to drain any excess water. When the ball doesn’t drip anymore, it’s ready to hang again. Yellowing leaves and the presence of mold indicate that your plant is being overwatered.
- A small plant
- Bonsai soil, Peat moss
- Clay and water
- Sheet moss
How to make a Kokedama
Remove the pant from the pot and tease the roots apart, shaking off the soil. Use a hose to wash the roots off. Thick rooted plants can tolerate having all the soil removed; thin, fibrous-rooted plants may fare better if a little soil remains. Try to get the root ball as small as possible.
Correspondingly, what plants are best for Kokedama?
A houseplant My favorite plants for kokedama are pothos, philodendron, peace lily, anthurium, dracaena, Norfolk Island pine, and ferns. You can make several kokedama in one session if you like. Potting mix Since the plant will be living in a constricted environment, it is necessary to have good aeration in your soil.
How do you water Kokedama?
Place your kokedama in the water, plant side up. Push the moss ball down so that it is fully submerged and begins to absorb water. Allow to soak for 10-25 minutes, or until fully saturated with water. Remove kokedama the water, and gently squeeze the moss ball to allow excess water to drain.
9 Related Question Answers Found
Where do you hang a Kokedama?
Place your kokedama directly in a north-facing window or two to three feet from a south, west, or east-facing window. They need bright, indirect light to grow.
Why is my Kokedama dying?
This will be due to too much watering or lack of air around the plant. If this happens, wipe off the mould with diluted washing up liquid. -Sometimes with watering, if the plant doesn’t bubble, you will need to squeeze the moss ball a little to loosen the moss and soil, or it is already full of water.
How often should you water Kokedama?
Watering frequency will vary based on where the ball is located, but max amount would be 1-2 times per week.
How do you wrap a Kokedama neatly?
Can I use potting soil for Kokedama?
You can use potting soil if you can‘t get Keto. A living plant. Ferns are strong and good for beginners, but you could also try flowering plants, succulents or even bamboo! Finally, you’ll need some moss and string.
How do you fix Kokedama?
Soak It. Be sure to keep your kokedama well hydrated by misting daily, especially if you used live moss, which needs to be kept damp. Every so often, take down your kokedama and give it a good soak in a sink full of water, allowing it to drain before hanging.
What string do you use for Kokedama?
How do you mix Kokedama soil?
Recipe: How To Make A Kokedama Soil Mix
- Place some of the potting mix in a bucket. …
- Add approximately 1/2 cup of clay and mix well. …
- Add 1/2 cup of water and mix well. …
- Continue adding clay and water bit by bit until the mixture holds together in a ball on it’s own (but isn’t so wet that it’s mucky or muddy).
Are Succulents good for Kokedama?
It’s always best to start with a kokedama made from a plant that is fairly easy to grow, especially one that can tolerate dry air, such as a succulent or a philodendron or pothos, because dry air is the main enemy of kokedamas. … Also, prefer a plant that is naturally small, so the kokedama will last longer.
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Hi there! I’m Sarah Sweeney, the blessed wife of Raymond and mom of two precious children (Shauna and Teresa). Sharing my passion for succulents – and inspiring others in the garden – is what makes me tick.
Can you propagate baby toes?
Although Fenestraria rhopalophylla “Baby Toes” can be propagated from seed and offsets, it’s recommended to use offsets as your main source. Seeds from Fenestraria do not reliably germinate, and grow very slowly.>> Click to read more < It’s easy! Let us show you how to make a wonderful indoor container planting alternative that looks absolutely amazing and eliminates the use of mass-produced pot that can either be hung from the ceiling or perched on dish.
Here’s What You’ll Need
Okay, roll up those sleeves. Let’s go.
It’s easy! Let us show you how to make a wonderful indoor container planting alternative that looks absolutely amazing and eliminates the use of mass-produced pot that can either be hung from the ceiling or perched on dish.
Try this ratio and adjust accordingly to step 2.
• 70% Bonsai soil
• 20% Peat moss
• 10% Clay mixture
- Demineralised or rainwater is going to produce the best results. If using tap water boil it beforehand for about 15 minutes.
- When the time comes to water the plant simply submerge the ball in a bucket of clean water for 5-10 minutes, leaving the plant out of the water.
The Best Plants for Kokedama
Choosing the right plant for Kokedama is an important step. You will need to pick a plant that prefers a shady location and that has a small root system. This list is a good place to start.
Translating from “koke” meaning moss and “dama” meaning ball, Kokedama is the practice of suspending the root ball of a plant in a mud ball coated in moss. This display piece can be secured on a piece of driftwood or bark, placed in a clear container, or suspended from twine or mono-filament fishing line.
When hung in groups, a Kokedama moss garden is called a string garden. Akin to the practice of bonsai, it offers a small yet treasured home for a beloved shady specimen.
This living art form is centuries old, and it’s now making another pass in the gardening realm. With just a few materials and beginner’s skill, you can practice this meditative art and create a distinctive gift for yourself or another plant lover. Here are the materials needed to make a Kokedama:
- A shady plant specimen
- Peat moss
- Clay-based soil
- Sphagnum sheet moss, dry floral moss, or harvested moss
- String, twine, or fishing line
- A spray bottle
- A bucket or bowl
- A measuring cup
- Newspaper or a tarp to cover the work surface
Choose the plant wisely. Those with small root systems or that are slow-growing are best for Kokedama. Consider, too, where it will sit or hang. Overall, the plant should be easy to care for and be able to tolerate sodden soil. Because moss may burn easily in full sunlight and annuals usually don’t last long indoors, explore perennials that thrive in part to full shade.
Some ideal examples include pothos or philodendron, begonia, ferns, grape ivy, dracaenas, cyclamen, lucky bamboo, peace lilies, elephant’s ears, rabbit’s foot fern, peperomia, Jacob’s ladder, prayer plant, creeping fig, anthuriums, and asparagus ferns. Rosemary could work well too.
Avoid succulents and cacti because the clay-based soil will be too moist for such dry-loving plants. Avoid African violets and orchids, too, because their roots require better air circulation from a porous soil mix. Kokedama can also serve as a home for conifer, olive, pear and apple trees, but trees require extensive care in this way.
Step 1: Make Soil Balls
Traditionally, this Japanese art is made of heavily clay-based soil that adheres to itself mixed with peat moss to retain moisture. This soil is called “akadama.”
Mix 85 percent clay (or bonsai soil) and 15 percent peat moss. To make a 4-inch ball, measure two cups of soil in a bowl or bucket. Add water and mix slowly. Press firmly on the medium and when it holds together, it is ready.
Firmly pack the soil ball to the size of a grapefruit. Throw it in the air to make sure it stays intact. Then take the plant out of its pot, dust off as much soil as possible, and gently break apart the root ball.
Make a small hole in the soil just large enough to nestle the roots and gently lay the roots of the specimen inside.
For added moisture and malleability while working, spray the soil with water. Nudge the soil around the roots and compact the soil around the stem’s base.
Step 2: Wrap Soil with Moss
Dampen the sphagnum moss with warm water as this will make it flexible to wrap around the soil ball. Set the sheet moss face down and the soil ball in the center. Wrap the moss around the soil and up to the plant so that all the soil surfaces are covered.
Dry floral moss can be used if soaked first. Properly harvested moss works well too. To harvest, gently scrape the moss off along with a thin layer of soil using a flat, sharp-edged tool such as a paint scraper or spatula. Avoid tools made of metal, which may harm the health of the moss. Remove only small portions to ensure the colony will continue to thrive in the wild.
Step 3: Wrap Moss Ball
Begin wrapping the moss with string, twine, or mono-filament fishing line. Hold the ball in one hand and with the other hand wrap the ball, making at least two passes around the surface. Wrap in every direction, start at the top, leaving a long tail, and cut the excess.
Step 4: Display
Tie the ends to hang, secure the ball on a piece of wood, or place in a clear container. Welcome the Kokedama to brighten an empty corner of the home, especially in the bathroom where it will soak up the moisture or perhaps above a kitchen island or on the dining room table for added greenery.
Whether indoors or outdoors, ensure the location is in part to full shade.
Pick up the ball to determine its weight. If it feels light, soak in a bowl of room-temperature water for 10 minutes. Place the ball in a colander for a few minutes to drain excess water. When the ball stops dripping, it’s ready to be displayed again.
Another sign of dryness is browning leaf tips. Pinch off any brown parts to prevent the brown from spreading.
The main symptoms of overwatering or not letting the plant fully dry are yellow leaves and mold. If mold occurs, trim the infected leaf or rinse with a towel soaked in warm water.
Once a month, feed the ball a water-soluble indoor plant fertilizer. This timing may line up with the watering schedule for easy care. If the plant shows signs of stress or outgrowing its home, move it to a larger Kokedama.
The technique presented here can be considered as the more standard. It is relatively easy to implement and allow you to achieve a beautiful kokedama suitable for a large number of plants. Follow our instructions step by step.
The choice of the plant:
I suggest you start with relatively small plants because they will be easier to handle during the creation phase of the substrate ball. Avoid epiphytic plants because they will ask for another technical and other substrate to live in good conditions. Here is a partial list of plants I suggest you get started:
- small ferns,
The rest of the necessary materials:
To complete the creation of your kokedama you will also need some soil both sticky (argillaceous) and containing vegetable fiber sphagnum. You can buy ready to use or make your own. You can find information to make the soil mix to kokedama in this article.
You will also need the moss to cover the substrate ball, a small black cotton string to tie discreetly and a pair of scissors.
Presentation of the technique in five steps:
Step 1: Prepare plants
To make your kokedama you will have to start by removing a large part of the soil of your plants. If the root system occupies a large volume you must also cut some of the roots, between a third and half of their length. If you do not, once assembled the volume occupied by the roots may be too large and with the addition of the substrate around and foam, the volume of the foam ball is too big compared to plants . Your kokedama then the risk of being visually unbalanced.
Remove the substrate of the plant with a bamboo stick.
Step 2 : arranging plants
Once your plants prepared you can look at how to put them together in the kokedama for the most aesthetic results. At this step is decided a big part of the final aesthetic, but never fear you can still make some adjustments once the next step is complete.
Step 3 : realization of the substrate ball
This is the step that will ask you the most technical and dexterity. Usually when we made her first kokedamas this is the step where we would like to have a third hand.
We must maintain the plants in the position determined in the previous step, in the space between the thumb and forefinger of the right hand if you are right-handed (and left hand for left-handed of course). By doing this you have all available fingers to hold the substrate around the roots as you add a small piece with the other hand.
Gradually add your kokedama soil to completely cover the roots and form a ball. The more it will be a regular shape more your kokedama will be beautiful. Your ball should be slightly lower than the final size you like, because the foam that we will add on will add even thickness.
Once this is done your plants will have a little changed and the arrangement originally planned may be slightly disturbed. You can adjust the position of the plants at this step.
Step 4 : plating and tie up the foam
Whatever the moss used you will need to clean it, which means suppress weeds and any parasites that may be present. Sometimes the foam is very thick and it is necessary to thin a little by cutting a part of the brown layer. Be careful not to remove too much or your moss will go into small pieces instead of staying in one piece.
Place the moss on your substrate ball. Two or three pieces must be sufficient. Avoid taking too small pieces because you’ll struggle to fix them.
Tie up with black wire by three turns. There is no need to put more wire, foam will not hold better and it must be discreet. Once tied ball correctly you can cut the foam long fibers protruding, your moss ball must be as neat as possible.
Tips : do not hesitate to spray the surface of the substrate for the foam sticks better on it.
Step 5 : watering
This step is part of the creation of kokedama. It is essential to water immediately after creation, and never say that it will wait the next day. Plant roots were exposed to air and manipulated by hands that are hot and therefore desiccant. You also manipulated the substrate which contributed to dehydrate. It is therefore imperative to water.
Personally I do not advice you to immerse your kokedama when watering, but gently and thoroughly to water with a small watering can.
Final results for this kokedama of anthurium.
Do it yourself :
Now you have all the keys to start to familiarize yourself with kokedamas creative techniques. Take care to water your kokedama when the foam is dry to the touch and you should be able to enjoy it for long.
The best way to determine if your plant needs water is to feel how heavy it is. When the ball feels light, there’s a good chance it needs to be watered. Another telltale sign that your plant needs watering is if the tips of its leaves start browning. Cut off any brown parts of the plant to keep the brown from spreading.
Watering your plant is simple: Soak the ball in a bowl of room-temperature water for about 10 minutes. Then transfer the ball to a colander for a few minutes to drain any excess water. When the ball doesn’t drip anymore, it’s ready to hang again.
Two indications that your plant is being overwatered or not fully drying are yellowing leaves and the presence of mold. If you find mold on your plant, don’t fret! Simply trim the infected leaf or rinse off with a warm-soaked towel.
Moss Lighting Needs
Like most plants, kokedama is going to need some light to thrive but not too much—since the plant is moss-based, it is more likely to dry out if sitting in direct light. To elongate your ball’s life, pick a semi-shady spot in your home and keep a close eye on it.
Decorating With Kokedama
There are many ways to enjoy your kokedama plant. Hang kokedama in an office space or bathroom (the moss will love the moisture!), above a kitchen island, or as a centerpiece on a dining room table. For outdoor spaces, hang kokedama from a pergola, balcony, porch, or other desired shady area.
Whether you’ve heard of kokedama before or not, you’ll be sure to want to create your own when you see just how easy they are to make and how stunning they look. Adding these to your houseplant collection is a great way to add something special.
What is kokedama?
Kokedama is a Japanese art of surrounding the roots of a plant with soil and moss, with the word kokedama translating to ‘moss ball’.
They can be created for indoor and outdoor use, but I think they have a striking appearance when you have a few in one area to create a floating forest in the home because it has a lovely peaceful effect.
Alternatively, if you would rather not have them hanging, they can be sat on trays to make a decorative display.
How to make a kokedama
When making or buying kokedamas, I recommend doing so in spring or summer, so the plants have time to acclimatise to their new home.
- Sheet moss
- Bonsai compost
- All-purpose compost
- Bowl or tray
Mix half and half of the bonsai compost and all-purpose compost in a bowl or on a tray. Whilst mixing, add water gradually to create a thick consistency.
Take the plant from its original pot and use your hands to carefully remove the compost surrounding the roots.
Gather a large handful of the mixture and create a ball, gently squeezing to remove any excess water. When it is holding together well, split the ball into half using a twisting motion.
Position the plant between the two halves of compost and repack the ball around the roots of the plant. Fill any little gaps with leftover compost mix.
Once you’ve got a well-formed ball, lay the moss sheet on the table, and place the ball in the middle. Wrap the moss around the ball to cover it – you might need more than one piece to do this.
Use the twine to tie around the circumference of the ball and knot it to keep it firmly in place. Tie extra string to create to allow it to be hung if that is your display preference.
These plants look the part, but they’ll need plenty of attention. They can sometimes need to be redone or even moved to a pot for a while to recover. Also, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ for care and positioning, as the choice of plant will determine the level or care and where it is placed in your home too.
Due to air being able to get to the kokedama easily, they can dry out quite fast. So, when the moss ball is dry or turns lighter in colour, they can be watered.
Watering is slightly different to most other houseplants, as it is done by soaking the ball in tepid water for around 10 minutes, then gently squeezing to remove excess water, leaving it to drip-dry for a while before returning it to its home.
High humidity levels are the key to keeping your kokedamas happy (unless you have opted for succulents). Therefore, displaying them on a gravel tray with water is a handy idea, or have a humidifier nearby.
Misting may be recommended, but the levels of humidity they need will mean you are constantly misting by hand, so the other alternatives may be more suitable.