How to make a kokedama

How to make a kokedama

Andres Mora / EyeEm / Getty Images

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
  • Scissors
  • String, twine, or fishing line
  • Water
  • A spray bottle
  • Gloves
  • A bucket or bowl
  • A measuring cup
  • Newspaper or a tarp to cover the work surface

Plant Selection

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.

Light

Whether indoors or outdoors, ensure the location is in part to full shade.

Water

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.

Fertilizer

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.

By: Shayna Courtney

What is a “Kokedama”?

Kokedama, translated “moss ball,” is a Japanese form of garden art. Simple yet elegant, it’s made by wrapping a plant’s roots with soil, sphagnum sheet moss and string, rather than planting in the ground or a container. This creates a striking focal point, drawing attention to the shape of flowers and foliage, especially in contrast to the smooth, round moss-covered ball.

Enliven your home or garden with kokedama planters by setting them on trays, small stands or by hanging them from rafters or ceilings. It’s especially rewarding to surround yourself with kokedama planters you’ve made yourself—it’s not difficult to do! We’ll show you how. Start by watching the video above for a quick overview of how to make a kokedama, then scroll on for the details.

How to make a kokedama

Most of the the tools and materials you need for this project are available at your local garden center and craft store. Gather up the items in the lists below, and then follow our helpful how-to steps.

Materials

  • Peat moss
  • Akadama soil
  • Sphagnum sheet moss
  • Waxed string or floral wire
  • Plants proportionate to the size of ball you’re creating

Tools

  • Scissors
  • Bowl
  • Latex gloves
  • Measuring cup

How to make a Kokedama

How to make a kokedama

Step 1: Prepare the Ball

Akadama soil, also used in potting mix for bonsai trees, is a type of granular volcanic clay soil from Japan. Combining it with peat moss in a 1:1 mix helps keep the ball moist so you won’t need to water it as often.

  • For an average-sized ball 4 inches in diameter, add 1 cup of each potting medium, as you see in the photo above, to a mixing bowl.
  • With your hands, combine the two together, crushing some of the akadama pellets as you go.
  • To moisten the mix, pour in water little by little. You don’t want the soil to get too wet at once or it will be difficult to work with. In total, this kokedama needed about ¾ to 1 cup to get the right consistency and shape a ball easily.
  • If soil isn’t sticking together well at this point, sprinkle in a little more akadama soil. You’ll know you have the right mix when it holds together.

Once you’ve molded the ball, hold it in both hands and press one thumb into the top, like in photo above, to make a hole for your plant’s roots.

How to make a kokedama

Step 2: Plant it up

  • Set the ball aside to prepare your plant.
  • Take it out of its pot and gently remove potting mix so the roots are mostly bare.
  • Then just slip the roots into the hole and gently pack the ball around them.
  • If your plant is too large for the ball you’ve prepared, you may be able to divide the plant now, depending on what you’ve chosen, and make more than one kokedama.

How to make a kokedama

Step 3: Wrap and wind

Now you’re ready to wrap your ball in sphagnum sheet moss. You can dampen it by soaking the moss in warm water, if you’d like. But the sheet moss will absorb water just fine without pre-moistening it. The photo above shows how to lay out the sheet moss, set the ball in the center and gather the moss around the soil and up to the base of the plant.

How to make a kokedama

To secure the moss in place, hold the ball in one hand and wind the waxed string or floral wire around it in all directions. Start at the bottom of the ball and leave a piece of longer string exposed so you can tie it off when you’re done wrapping. If you’d like to hang your kokedama, begin at the top of the ball, by the base of the plant, and leave an extended section of string.

How to make a kokedama

Caring for your Kokedama

  • Fill a small bowl halfway with water and set your kokedama in for 5 to 10 minutes or until it’s heavy. Every few days, feel the ball’s weight to determine if it needs soaking again. The humidity and temperature inside your house or out in the garden will affect how often you need to water.
  • Wait a few days before exposing plants that like full sun to sunny conditions. Hardening them off will ensure they don’t burn.
  • During the growing season, feed kokedama once every few weeks by mixing water-soluble fertilizer in the water bowl.
  • Place your kokedama on a shallow dish to help protect wood surfaces indoors.
  • If well-watered plants start to show signs of stress, move them to a larger ball.

Looking for garden inspiration? Check out our Garden Design Ideas

How to make a kokedama

The art of Kokedama literally translates from “koke” meaning moss and “dama” meaning ball. This moss ball has experienced a resurgence as a modern art form useful for uniquely presented plants and flowers. Instructions and classes on the how-to for this skill abound on the Internet and plant forums. A Japanese moss ball makes a personalized gift or simply an interesting accent for a favorite plant specimen. You can practice the art of Kokedama yourself with just a few items and minimal skill.

What is Kokedama?

What is a Kokedama? It is a form of Japanese garden art that is centuries old and tied into the practice of bonsai. It is an accent to that mode of plant display where a moss ball is the focal and supporting point for a sculpted tree or plant. The moss ball is fixed to a platform or suspended from string with the plant growing out from the sphere.

Kokedama is the practice of taking the root ball of a plant and suspending it in a mud ball, which is then coated with soft green moss. It is a living planter as well as a distinctive display piece. They may be fixed to a piece of driftwood or bark, suspended from a string, or nestled in a clear, attractive container. Hanging many of these as a Kokedama moss garden is called a string garden.

Materials for Making Kokedama Moss Balls

The traditional art form relied upon a carefully composed soil with a heavy clay base that would adhere to itself. This soil is called akadama and also contains peat moss as a moisture retainer. You can purchase bonsai soil or make your own mixture of clay and 15 percent peat moss as a base for the Japanese moss ball.

Once you have your soil mixture, you will also need:

  • Scissors
  • String
  • Water
  • A spray bottle
  • Gloves
  • A bucket
  • Newspaper or a tarp (to protect your work surface)

Select your plant using a guideline of ease of care, light situation, and ability to tolerate sodden soil. Many tropical jungle plants are suitable for the project, as well as ferns, lucky bamboo, or even ivy. Avoid any succulents and cacti, as the soil ball will remain too moist for these types of plants.

For the moss, you can use dry floral moss that you soak or harvest some from your surroundings. If you don’t want to mess with the clay ball, you can also create a Kokedama moss garden with a floral foam ball as the base.

Creating Your Japanese Moss Ball

Don your gloves, line your work space, and get started.

  • Moisten the moss if it’s the dried variety by soaking in a bucket of water for an hour. Squeeze it out and lay aside until the last step.
  • Add water gradually to your akadama mixture until the medium can be gathered into a ball. Press it firmly all around to adhere the soil mixture.
  • Remove your selected plant from its container, dust off the soil, and gently break apart the root ball. Make a hole in the clay ball big enough to push in the roots of the plant. Spray the soil with water to keep it moist and workable during this process.
  • Push the clay around the roots and compact it around the base of the stem. Press the moss around the form until all the surfaces are covered. Use twine or string to wrap the moss onto the ball with at least two passes around the surface. Cut away the excess string and fix the ball to a piece of wood, hang in an appropriately lighted area or place in a container.

You now have your first moss ball and can let yourself be really creative next time with different shapes and kinds of moss. Making Kokedama moss balls is a fun, family-friendly project that lets you express your love for plants, and design a one of a kind display.

Kokedama literally translates as ‘moss ball’, they are beautiful compositions made with ferns, flowering plants, bamboo or succulents.

Creating a Kokedama can be a bit tricky, but if you scroll down you’ll find a step-by-step plan that explains how to make a Komedama yourself!

What is Kokedama?

These small moss balls are an old tradition in Japanese gardening, and are somewhat related to the accent plants often shown alongside a Bonsai, as well as to Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement). A Kokedama can be created with a wide variety of plant species. By covering the root ball with a layer of sticky mud, covered with moss, the distinctive round shape can be made. The moss balls are traditionally displayed on a shallow tray, but recently they are also displayed as hanging plants.

How do I care for a Kokedama?

Watering a Kokedama is a relatively straight-forward task. The best way to determine if your moss ball needs watering is to feel how heavy it is. You can also check the moss, if it feels dry you need to water. Soaking the ball in water for about 5 minutes should be more than enough to make sure it is well wetted. Most ferns and succulents will thrive indoors, but ultimately it depends on which plant you selected what the optimal place is to put (or hang) your Kokedama. Read the instructions of the plant you purchased before proceeding! You can fertilize your moss ball once a month using a liquid fertilizer.

Examples of Kokedama

Here are a few inspirational shots of finished moss balls.

How to make a kokedama

Kokedama plant (a fern).

What do I need to create a Kokedama?

You’ll need some soil components like peat moss (spaghnum), keto soil, akadama soil and water. Of course your composition also needs a living plant (try a fern on your first attempt) and some string to tie it all together. See the photos below for more information.

How to make a kokedama

The soil components (Akadama, Keto (a Japanese type of very sticky clay), Spagnum and Water). You can use potting soil if you can’t get Keto.

How to make a kokedama

A living plant. Ferns are strong and good for beginners, but you could also try flowering plants, succulents or even bamboo!

How to make a kokedama

Finally, you’ll need some moss and string. The moss can be collected in a variety of places like your garden, a park or forest.

Now let’s see how we can create our very own Kokedama! These photos belong to Art Kokedama.

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.

Suggested Plants
  • Spider plants
  • Asparagus ferns
  • Hypoestes
  • Coleus
  • Philodendrons
  • Begonias
  • Other tough houseplants
Materials
  • A small plant
  • Bonsai soil, Peat moss
  • Clay and water
  • Sheet moss
  • Twine

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.

How to make a kokedama

In a bucket or bowl, mix bonsai soil, and peat moss in equal parts. Mix until everything is incorporated and there are no lumps or clods. Slowly add water and clay, mixing well with your hands between each addition, until the soil mixture is a thick paste. Test by forming a baseball-sized ball working it smooth. A little loose water should appear on the surface as you squeeze it, and when dropped back into the soil bucket from a few feet, the ball should remain intact. If the ball flattens, add a little more soil. If the ball breaks, add a bit more water.

How to make a kokedama

Take a handful of moist sphagnum moss, squeeze out excess water, and then encase your plant’s root ball with a layer of sphagnum moss. Wrap moss with the natural string or twine. Set the plant aside.

Stir your peat moss mixture. Then create a ball slightly bigger than sphagnum-covered rootball by using hands. The amount of soil you need will depend on the size of your plant. Squeeze the peat moss ball to release the dripping moisture.

Twist the peat moss ball to create two halves. Then press the sphagnum-covered root ball into one half. Put the other half of the ball over the root ball. Try to pat and squeeze together to reform a ball. If necessary, add some additional mixture to the ball. Squeeze to release any dripping moisture. Other than twisting you can form a ball here and form a root-sized hole in it with your fingers. It would be best if you ended up with about an inch of the mixture all around the roots except at the top left uncovered. Keep the soil ball top even with the original soil level of the plant. Keep the ball as round as possible.

How to make a kokedama

Lay your sheet moss out on your working surface. If you have one large sheet of moss, it is good. Otherwise piece together smaller sections, trying to use a single piece for the centre/bottom. D wrap it around the plant-containing soil ball. Gently press it onto the ball. Cover all the soil except where the plant stems come out of the ball.

How to make a kokedama

Tie the twine around the moss-covered ball. Wrap the longer end of the twine around & around the moss-covered ball to secure the moss, pulling tight as desired to help shape the ball. When you’re satisfied the moss is secure, tie off the loose end to a crossing wrapped piece. Tie off near the top if you want to suspend your kokedama by the string, or you can tie a new hanger string on.

How to make a kokedama

Hang by a single string tied near the top, or make a simple hanger by tying three pieces of string together at the top and bottom. Simply rest the ball in the sling. To water, simply set the soil ball in a pan or bowl of water for a few minutes. Water will soak the whole soil ball even if it’s only a few inches deep. To fertilize, soak in a weak mixture of a fertilizer every few weeks, preferably organic.

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.

How to make a kokedama

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.

  • Plant
  • Sheet moss
  • Bonsai compost
  • All-purpose compost
  • Twine
  • Scissors
  • Bowl or tray

Step one

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.

Step two

Take the plant from its original pot and use your hands to carefully remove the compost surrounding the roots.

How to make a kokedama

Step three

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.

Step four

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.

How to make a kokedama

Step five

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.

Step six

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.

How to make a kokedama

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.

How to make a kokedama

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.

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    Ever wondered how to make a kokedama? It’s easy!

    Kokedama, sometimes called string gardens or Japanese moss balls, are a form of bonsai that dates back to the Edo era in Japan, circa 1600. Kokedama are just as beautiful to look at as they are fun to make, and thrive indoors – perfect for a corner nook in a small apartments or for creating a beautiful floating garden.

    How to make a kokedama

    Our shop has been making these mystical moss balls for years, and we’re excited to share our method with you and show you how to make a kokedama of your very own.

    There are many different takes on how to make a kokedama, and ours is a bit different from the rest, so feel free to leave any questions in the comments and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

    How To Make a Kokedama

    These instructions assume that you’re working with the materials included in our Kokedama Kit, but you can definitely follow along with your own materials, too! (Need a kit? Get yours here)

    Part 1: Gather and prepare materials

    Unpack your kokedama kit on to your workspace, taking care to water your plant if it’s dry. You should have a cloth bundle tied with twine and filled with moss, a clay mix baggie, a spool of nylon cord and a 4″ plant.

    Untie the cloth bundle, and set the moss aside. Lay the cloth circle on flat work surface. Empty the contents of the clay mix packet onto the center of the circle, and spray the clay mix until it’s evenly moist.

    How to make a kokedama

    Next, carefully remove your plant from its plastic container. Holding the plant over the cloth circle, gently strip away most of the soil off of the root system and onto the clay mix. Spray plant roots with water and set the plant aside.

    Using your hands hands, thoroughly mix soil with the clay mix, spraying with water if necessary, until the clay is evenly distributed with the soil and the mixture feels nice and pliable.

    Part 2: Create the inner plant ball

    The next step in how to make a kokedama is to create what we’ll call the “inner plant ball” – the interior lining that gives the round shape to your kokedama.

    Mound the soil/clay mix in the center of the cloth circle. Using a spoon (or your fingers), dig a well in the center of the mound that’s large enough to fit the your plant, about the size of a fist. Place plant root system in the well, and fill in with soil mix so that the plant roots are now contained within the soil/clay mix.

    How to make a kokedama

    Using both hands, gather the cloth and work it into a tight ball around the soil and roots. Secure the cloth around the base of the plant by cinching with twine, creating the inner plant ball. Continue to refine the shape of the ball, pulling on the edges of the cloth to tighten it around the plant. Your goal is to have a tight, circular plant ball

    Trim excess cloth from the top of the ball and snip extra twine. Set the inner plant ball aside.

    Part 3: Bind with moss

    The next and perhaps most fun step in how to make a kokedama is to bind the plant ball with moss.

    How to make a kokedama

    Submerge your moss completely in a bowl of water, and then ring out the excess so the moss is nice and moist. Set one small piece of moss aside to use later for patching. Arrange the remaining moss green-side down into a circular shape on your work surface, taking care to overlap individual pieces slightly so that the moss circle is continuous.

    Place plant ball into center of the moss. Carefully reach your hands under the moss, and then press it around the inner plant ball, compacting the moss lightly into shape so that it stays in place.

    How to make a kokedama

    If you plan to hang your kokedama, cut about 3′ of nylon cord and set aside.

    Unwind your nylon cord and wrap one end around the moss ball. Tie the cord tightly a tight double knot, leaving a 4” tail. Do not clip the other end.

    How to make a kokedama

    Holding the moss ball in one hand, and the nylon cord spool in the other, bind moss to the plant ball with the nylon cord, tightly circling diagonally, horizontally and vertically. Keep the cord taught as you work to ensure that the cord is tight and moss is held in place. Make sure to cover all areas of the inner plant ball with moss, and to wrap the cord all the way to the base of the plant.

    How to make a kokedama

    Part 4: Finishing touches

    Take a look at the moss ball and take care to cover any exposed cloth with moss, patching with the excess moss you set aside earlier if necessary.

    When the moss is tightly secured, clip the nylon cord and double knot it to the tail left at the beginning of binding.

    How to make a kokedama

    If hanging your kokedama, you’ll use the reserved nylon cord to make a hanging loop. Look at the moss near the base of the plant for an exposed piece of nylon binding. Work the reserved piece of cord under this exposed binding. Cut to desired length and tie into a loop.

    Display and styling

    Now that you’ve made your kokedama, you need to decide the perfect place to display it. Keep in mind, the perfect place aesthetically may not be best for the needs of the plant.

    You can read up on the needs of your specific plant species and make sure that your intended home works for your plant on our blog. The same post has specific instructions for how to water and care for you new string garden.

    It’s best to keep most tropicals out of direct sun and away from drafts, so be sure to hang them slightly away from windows. You can also set your kokedama in a shallow bowl or dish and place it at your desk, on a shelf, or on the windowsill.

    Another fun way to display kokedama is to create a cascading floating garden effect. To do this, just make a few more kokedama and hang them at varying lengths near one another. The possibilities and plant combinations are endless!

    How to make a kokedama

    We want to see what you make! Send us your photos on Instagram or Facebook, and we’ll repost our favorites.

    Kokedama (Japanese for “moss ball”) is a style of potting up plants in a ball of moss and displaying them in a dish or suspended in the air. The style comes from a centuries-old tradition of exhibiting the exposed root ball of a bonsai specimen on a plate to highlight its elegant root system. As time passed, moss would accumulate on the roots, enhancing the display.

    Today, kokedama are usually crafted into spherical shapes and are often made with houseplants rather than with trees and shrubs, the traditional bonsai plant material. In New York City, kokedama have become especially popular recently, perhaps due to their space-saving qualities—hanging kokedama do not take up valuable floor or shelf space.

    You can make your own simple hanging kokedama at home with common houseplants like pothos or peace lily. Almost any plant can be made into a kokedama, but it’s best to use ones that suit your living environment. For example, if you live in a dark apartment where the only window faces a brick wall, you’ll want to use shade-tolerant plants like philodendron or pothos vines. If your place is sunny, choose plants that tolerate a lot of light, such as citrus, ficus, or croton, whose leaves aren’t likely to be scorched by the sunlight. If your place is somewhere in between these two extremes, you’re in luck, because there are hundreds of plants that prefer bright, indirect light.

    Supplies

    Instructions

    Add enough water to your potting mix so that you can make a firm ball that doesn’t crumble. Add more water if necessary, squeezing out any excess as you shape your ball. You should be able to throw your ball into the air and catch it without its crumbling apart.

    Remove the plant from its pot, shaking off excess soil. Sculpt your ball around the roots, adding damp potting mix as needed.

    Gently squeeze out excess water as you go. When I form kokedama for my plant store at the Brooklyn Flea, I try to make them as spherical as possible, but this is not absolutely necessary.

    Lay out your sheet moss, place the ball in the center, and enfold the ball in the moss, trimming off any excess moss as you go.

    Measure out two arm-lengths of waxed cord, floss, or polyester thread. Starting at one end of the string, tie a firm loop around the top-right side of the ball and make a double knot. Then, holding the ball in one hand to stabilize it, randomly wrap the string around the ball (except directly through the plant) to secure the moss, checking for roundness as you go.

    Keep the string taut around the plant. If the string it too loose, you will not be able to suspend it. Once you have come to the end of your string, tie it off on a neighboring string on the ball. If you think you need more string, you can add it to the ball at this time.

    Once you’re happy with the shape of your ball, cut a new piece of string about a foot long (or double the length of the top of your plant), and tie it onto one side of the plant. I like to tie it to several neighboring strings on the ball to make it more secure when it’s suspended. Repeat this step with the end of the string on the other side of the ball.

    Pick up the ball from the strings and determine which way it’s leaning. Add a third piece of string to stabilize so that you have a tripod of strings.

    With all strings firmly secured to your moss ball, lift the ball by the strings and play around with the strings like a puppeteer until the plant is centered in the middle. Pinch the end strings about three inches down from the top and tie a knot so that you have a loop. You can now hang your kokedama.

    To water your new kokedama, simply soak the entire ball in a bowl or pitcher of water for 20 to 30 minutes once a week. When you take the ball out of the water, gently squeeze it to remove any excess water until it stops dripping. Between waterings you can also mist the moss to keep it fresh and green.

    Krissie Nagy teaches kokedama classes at Brooklyn Botanic Garden has been making and selling her whimsical kokedama at the Brooklyn Flea since 2013. She is also the owner of BK Bumpkin, an ecological garden design/build firm based in Brooklyn. When Krissie isn’t building a garden or making a moss ball, she is usually cooking meals at home and feeding her pet worms the kitchen scraps.