What you're learning
- All About the Japanese Kokedama: How It Started?
- Kokedama and the Japanese Philosophy Wabi-Sabi
- Benefits of Adding Kokedama to your Space
- Making your Own Kokedama Moss Ball
- Common Materials/Supplies for your Moss Ball/Kokedama Project
- Plants to Use
- The Actual Steps
- Caring for your Kokedama
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Learning how to make Kokedama is a unique and exciting way of providing a hint of something Japanese to your office or home environment. What’s great about this form of plant display is that anyone can do it.
Learn how to make your own Kokedama, some decoration tips, and some tips in caring for and maintaining it through this article.
All About the Japanese Kokedama: How It Started?
The Kokedama refers to a creative botanical method of growing a plant in a moss-covered ball of soil. Basically, it is a fun and exciting process, also known as a string garden, which requires you to strip soil from the root of a plant.
You will also have to use a special soil blend, often rich in clay, as a means of sculpting the plant into a ball then binding it into moss. By making a kokedama, you can transform famous houseplants, including ferns, pothos, herbs, citrus, and philodendrons, into a green oasis.
Kokedama actually started in Japan several centuries ago. It is closely related to the bonsai practice. It comes from the words: koke, which means moss, and dama, which signifies a ball.
Based on the words forming kokedama, it is safe to say that it uses a moss ball, which serves as the focal point and support for a plant, shrub, or tree. You can fix the moss ball into a platform, like a bowl or a dish.
Alternatively, you can use a string to suspend the moss ball to the air. Kokedama also got its inspiration from an old tradition involving the display of a bonsai specimen’s exposed root ball on a plate.
This tradition aims to emphasize the root system’s beauty and complexity. It eventually led to the accumulation of moss on the roots, further enhancing the display.
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Kokedama and the Japanese Philosophy Wabi-Sabi
Kokedama also strongly reflected wabi-sabi, which is a famous Japanese philosophy. This philosophy is all about appreciating natural beauty in the natural imperfection of the world.
You can’t find any direct Western translation for this philosophy’s translation but if you translate it loosely, wabi means simplicity. It is all about simplicity regardless if it is refined or rustic, on both manmade and natural objects. Sabi, on the other hand, signifies serenity or beauty, which is a result of time and age.
More specifically, wabi-sabi is a philosophy that works under the principle that you have to appreciate what is simple, natural, and imperfect.
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Benefits of Adding Kokedama to your Space
Whether in your home or office, adding a form of Kokedama can help bring the best out of your space. The following are just a few of the many benefits of adding kokedama to your home or office:
Purifies the air
Just like other decorative houseplants, the fun and creative kokedama has an air-purifying capability. It can purify the air within your space while building a more calming environment that can help you relax. It can get rid of toxins from the air and lessen harmful air pollutants triggered by air conditioning and house paints.
Helps in relieving stress
Kokedama is also a great stress-reliever. The Japanese even believe in the ball’s ability to provide peace and quiet by absorbing negative energy. It can relieve stress and provide tranquility to your soul, body, and mind.
There is even what we call the kokedama dragon plant, which enhances your room’s nighttime air quality. The result is a better quality of sleep.
Kokedama also has the advantage of being easy and hassle-free to maintain. Taking care of it even requires less commitment compared to caring for a bonsai. Almost all the things you need to make and maintain your kokedama can also be found at home or the closest gardening store.
It is even possible for you to build a whole garden composed of kokedama houseplants within your home without consuming too much shelf space and flooring. You also have the option of hanging the kokedama in such a way that you can bring it down effortlessly for watering.
You are also allowed to pick plants that slowly grow or remain small, such as the parlor palms. Moreover, you have the option to prune the roots or change their moss. That way, you can maintain the small size of the plant, preventing it from taking up a lot of space.
Great decorative effect whether indoors or outdoors
Obviously, kokedama makes for a great indoor or outdoor decoration. You can even use your creativity to make a really good display. What’s great about it is that it looks great whether you intend to display it indoor or in an outdoor garden.
Making your Own Kokedama Moss Ball
Kokedama is easy to make. You can do it with minimal effort as it does not require specific gardening or technical skills. It is something that you can do whether you have a passion for DIY gardening projects, want to do something creative in your day, or are in search of a green decoration idea for your living space.
What’s great about this project is that it is therapeutic and stress-relieving. Just make sure that you are patient and mindful so you can complete this task. Practice working both hands independently.
Common Materials/Supplies for your Moss Ball/Kokedama Project
- Peat moss
- Potting soil or Bonsai soil
- Your preferred small plant
- A pair of scissors
- String, wire, or twine
Plants to Use
Despite the fact that the main concept for Kokedama was derived from the Bonsai tradition, this form of gardening is still ideal for use on several other plant species. Note, though, that since you will be growing these houseplants in tiny moss balls, you may have a hard time guaranteeing that these greens live in the perfect conditions.
That said, find plants that are suitable for such a gardening method. The best plants that perfectly suit the conditions of Kokedama are those that are hardy and small. The plant should also be slow-growing while being able to tolerate growth conditions that are less than ideal.
In that case, here are those that meet such requirements and traits:
- Chinese money plant
- Cebu blue pothos
- Ivy peperomia
- Spider plant
- Rabbit foot fern
- Pineapple mint
- Nerve plant
- Rex begonia
- Waffle plant
- Bird’s nest fern
The Actual Steps
For you to get an idea of how to make a kokedama, here is a simple example. The first thing you should do is to gather the materials you need for this project. These include:
- Peat moss
- Bonsai soil
- Sphagnum moss
- Assorted jute twines
- Ferns or other plant types with similar structure
To make this kokedama project, follow these steps:
Form the balls using peat moss and the soil
Using a ratio of 7:3, mix the peat moss and the bonsai soil. Pour some water slowly and mix until you notice a certain consistency developing. Make sure that the soil ball you formed sticks or stays together and should be around the same size as a large orange or grapefruit.
Use the sphagnum moss to wrap the fern
The sphagnum moss should be soaked in water first, though. This should help dampen it. After soaking, rinse the sphagnum moss.
Get the fern and clean the roots of soil. Wrapping the plant’s roots with the damp moss should be the next thing to do followed by using the twine or string to bine the fern.
Create a soil ball and make it surround the moss ball
Get the soil ball and break it in half. Put the fern (plant) that you have to wrap in moss in the middle of the first half of the ball. Add the remaining half then shape the ball as necessary.
Use the sheet moss to wrap the ball
Wrap this ball with the aid of a sheet moss then use the twine to bind it. Once done, you can spritz your prepared kokedama with a bit of water.
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Caring for your Kokedama
For your kokedama to thrive, you need to make sure that it receives proper care. In that case, remember that proper Kokedama care requires focusing on these crucial areas:
You need to provide your kokedama with enough water for it to thrive well. How do you know if it is indeed time to water this plant? One way to determine its watering needs is to feel its weight.
If it feels light and has dry moss, then it indicates the need for water. You can water the kokedama by either dipping the base in a bowl filled with water or using a watering can designed for a bonsai so you can water the kokedama from atop.
Put a splat mat or plate beneath the plant to prevent it from dripping on your floor or furniture. You may also want to use spring water as it can lower the risk of having mineral deposits.
Once it grows, expect its need for water to increase, too. You can lessen such watering requirements, though, by trimming any excessive growth on top.
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The light required by your kokedama actually differs depending on the kind of plant you use. If you are using houseplants, like ferns, bromeliads, spider plants, or hoyas, then note that they like hanging or sitting in a place that receives plenty of bright, indirect light.
It is important for you to be aware of the specific lighting requirements of your chosen plant species when selecting the best place to display the kokedama.
When it comes to fertilizing your kokedama, you can take advantage of two effective methods – spritzing and dipping. Spritzing involves filling one bottle with a water-soluble fertilizer designed for foliage plants. Ensure that you use a half-strength diluted solution for this when spritzing the leaves once every month.
As for dipping, get a bowl and fill it up with a full-strength solution. You should then dip the moss ball here. Put it on a plate and let it rest there for a while or until it no longer drips.
After that, hanging the ball again should come next. Do this specific method thrice annually – during the summer, the fall, and spring. Stick to what the manufacturer recommends as far as the strength of the fertilizer is concerned, too.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How long does Kokedama last?
In general, your Kokedama moss ball can last for around two to three years. This may get shorter or longer, though, based on the plant you decided to use for the project as well as the care it receives.
You can also increase the lifespan of the moss ball by monitoring it so you will know once its roots begin coming out of it. It indicates that the ball is already too small for its root system. In that case, you have to create the ball again or plant it into another bigger ball.
For you to make the moss ball again, just cut the string or wire then take the moss out. Cut any excess roots then make the ball again using the appropriate moss and soil.
What plants are best for Kokedama?
The best plants that you can use for your Kokedama are those that can live in bright and indirect light indoors. In this case, your options include ferns, dracaena, anthurium, peace lily, bromeliads, pothos, philodendron, and herbs.
Do plants outgrow Kokedama?
Yes, it is because its roots will begin growing out of the moss ball eventually. You should not worry about it when it happens as it is actually normal. If that happens, you just have to trim off the roots or make another moss for the plant.
How to water the Kokedama?
Kokedama has to retain a specific level of moisture all the time so it won’t dry out. It is the reason why you have to make it a daily habit to water your kokedama. You can do that by misting the ball with water or soaking it.
It is also necessary to bathe the moss ball once or twice weekly. You can do that by soaking the moss ball in water then letting it absorb water for a few minutes. Make sure that you let the excess water drip prior to putting back the ball or hanging it.
Where can I put my kokedama?
Kokedama is so versatile that you can place it anywhere you want. For one, it makes an incredible focal point or green decoration in your interiors, like in your office or home.
Make sure, though, that your chosen spot for the moss ball is not close to extreme heat. It should not be a place that exposes it to direct sun, though. The reason is that both may cause your kokedama to dry out.
Is it okay to hang the kokedama outdoors?
Yes, hanging it outside is definitely okay. Just make sure that you are using plants capable of adapting to outdoor conditions.
What should I do when the twine or string starts to break?
Eventually, you will notice the string or twine around the moss degrading. You can prevent that from happening by ensuring that the string or twine receives proper airflow.
Also, ensure that it is fully dry between each watering. Note that your kokedama has a chance of living for years without the need for restringing if you provide it with the ideal conditions.
Kokedama is indeed an incredible way to put your creativity to good use using your love for plants. What’s even better about this practice is that you can display it in various ways. You can enjoy its ornamental and decorative value whether you hang your kokedama at various heights or set it dramatically in anything, like a plate or saucer.
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