A Recipe for Success: Kokedama - Japanese Moss Balls

Looking for a unique and stunning way to introduce houseplants into your space? Well check out the Kokedama art form of planting. In Japanese 'koke' means moss and 'dama' means ball is the art of planting a tropical plant within a tightly wrapped moss ball which falls within the scope of bonsai. By grouping multiple Kokedama and suspending them by string, you can create your very own String Garden; a seemingly magical way to experience your houseplants.

This week we are going to show you how to create one of these amazing green spheres and how to group them to form a string garden. Jennifer Kok expertly will teach us how to build and care for kokedama.

Plant Choices

I bet many of you are wondering what kinds of plants lend themselves to Kokedama, and truth be told, most houseplants will actually are suitable candidates with a few exceptions in regards to size. We recommend starting with a 4" or 6" plant for your first Kokedama simply for convenience and ease; a large plant may become a bit ungainly to manage alone. This size also lends itself to easier watering and hanging. You don't want to be heaving a giant ficus down from a ceiling hook weekly to water it.

If you are a inconsistent waterer,, consider Crassula ovata 'Jade' or Echiveria or even a Sedum morganianum 'Burro's Tail'. These drought loving plants will be a great option for a sunny spot with fewer opportunities to water.

If you are a generous and diligent waterer consider one of the many fern varieties we carry like Adiantum spp. 'Maidenhair Fern', Platycerium 'Staghorn Fern', Asplenium nidus 'Birds Nest Fern', and even 'Pearls and Jade' Pothos which we used for this tutorial.


What you will need for this project is:

  • Sheet or live moss - we sell it by the bag for your convenience

  • Plant of choice

  • Promix tropical houseplant soil

  • Natural jute twine

  • Scissors

  • Spray bottle *optional

Step 1.

Remove plant from pot and gently tease away any loose soil and wound roots. The plant we used for this tutorial is a 4" 'Pearls and Jade' Pothos. There is no need to remove all of the soil or leave the roots completely bare, but just enough to make them form more easily into a ball.

Step 2.

Lay out the approximate size of sheet moss (this is a bit of guess work and I would err on the side of caution and use more than you think you need as its easier to remove moss than add) and check the size by gently placing the plant in the moss and faux wrapping it. Adjust the size of the sheet moss if necessary by pulling away the excess. Then if your sheet moss is a bit crumbly and dry, spray with water to make it more moist and pliable.

Step 3.

Lay the moss on the work surface (inside/brown side up) and fill with 1-2 cups of soil. This amount will depend on how large your root ball is. Essentially though, you want to provide your plant with sufficient growing medium so it doesn't dry out.

Step 4.

Now lay your plants root ball in the soil with the foliage hanging over one edge. Top the soil up over the root ball, again another 1-2 cups. You may want to lightly moisten your soil with the spray bottle as well if you are finding it dry and crumbly and difficult to manage. This moisture will help it stick together slightly.