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.

Step 5.

Now gently wrap the sheet moss around the root ball and soil; bringing the moss up and over the root ball to the base of the foliage. You might want to ask for help if you have smaller hands. Once the ball is formed, you should be able to lay it on its side, partially wrapped for a few minutes while you get your twine organized.

Step 6.

Next take the end of your twine and tie a basic slip knot with a loop at the end large enough to fit your whole spool of twine through - creating a cinch. Half way around the moss ball horizontally, place this cinch and tighten. The tighter the better at this point because you don't want it to slip as you begin to wind.

Step 7.

Now holding your moss in one hand, begin to wrap the twine around the moss ball from many directions. This is to secure the moss firmly to the root ball and also to create a tight round form. Don't be worried about seeing the twine, it is part of the Wabi-Sabi look what these balls are based on. Make sure you are pulling quite tight, just be sure not to break your twine otherwise you will have to start over.

Step 8.

Once you feel that your Kokedama is securely wrapped in twine and it has a spherical shape, cut your twine with a workable 5-6" tail. Find a firm and tight area off twine and tie with some simple square knots. I am sure you could use some fancy knots, but we are gardeners, not Girl or Boy Scouts :).

Step 9.

Next gently trim away any fuzzy moss bits from around the base of the plant. Use your scissors or fingers. This is to provide a clean appearance and lessen the chances of the foliage sitting in the moist moss leading to rot.

Step 10.

Step 10 is optional, as you do not have to hang your Kokedama, and you may choose to place it in a saucer on a table. Either situation will work and are both visually stunning. If you do choose to hang your creation, simply measure the height you would like to hang it, feed out double the length of twine. This is because we chose to hang ours from two points. Tie a simple square knot to one side of the ball, and then on the other side, about the same height. We positioned the ball as to have the Pothos spill over one side versus from the top. Play with your creation and decide what works for your aesthetic.

Now just hang or place your Kokedama and enjoy!

Kokedama Care

When the time comes to watering your plant we recommend filling a large bowl or bucket with water and soak the moss ball. We don't recommend using your sink, as soil and loose moss shouldn't go down your drain. Bubbles will show at first and then once the bubbles have stopped, the ball is fully watered. During the growing season, when soaking your ball you may add liquid fertilizer to the water.

Pin Now For Later!

Come into the store this weekend and pick up all the supplies you need for your own Kokedama creation! Our 4" Echeveria are only $6.98 this weekend, and would make an excellent plant choice!

Tutorial and Hand Model - Jennifer Kok

Author - Heather Youl

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