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Tips and Guides

Make Your Own Kokedama

Form lovely moss balls and achieve a Zen garden

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Photography: Gio Oliva

It’s not unusual to see plants in cups, succulents in cute containers, and even air plants sprucing up the home. If you’re ready to take your gardening skills to the next level, you may want to create a Kokedama.

A Japanese art form, kokedamas are moss balls (koke means moss, while dama means ball). It is a combination of bonsai styles wherein the roots of the plant are bound. Aside from adding a very calming touch to any space, it allows you to showcase your green picks without an actual container as the soil and moss perfectly hold it.

Ready to create your own? Take note of the materials, steps, and tips below:

What you need:

  • Kokedama soil

- Similar to bonsai, traditional kokedamas use akedama, a reddish, clay-ey soil. It helps hold your plant together. Visit the shops in White Plains, Quezon City to look for akedama.

- You can also use regular potting mix combined with peat moss (7:3 ratio, peat moss to potting mix)

  • Your chosen plant

- Choose plants that won’t mind moisture. Leafy houseplants like nerve plants, ferns, and ivy are your best bets.

- Succulents are a bit tricky to work with, but with proper care, it can also be used.

RL Tip: Choose plants with interesting structures to complement the moss ball. Keep in mind that the size of the plant is relative to the size of your finished project.

  • Scissors
  • Twine or any sturdy string of your choice
  • Spray bottle filled with water

How-to:

1. Begin by arranging your materials on a table. Protect it from scratches by covering it with Manila paper or old newspapers.

Prepare your plant. Remove your plant from its container and shake off as much excess soil as possible without damaging the root system.

RL Tip: If you are working with non-succulents, wrap some moss around the roots. Those working with succulents may leave the plant as is.

Mix your soil with small amounts of water until you reach the desired consistency. A good test to see if your soil is ready is to form small balls in your hands. If they do not crumble apart, then the soil mix is good to go.

Form a nice compact ball— you can start with a smaller one since the moss and string will make it bigger.

Break the ball in half, then insert your plant in the middle. 

Add more soil to make sure the ball will hold and don’t forget to squeeze out the excess moisture.

Wrap the moss around the ball. Make sure you cover the entire ball so that no patches of soil are seen.

RL Tip: If you are using sheet moss or carpet moss, lay it flat on a surface, place the ball in the center, then gather the sheet around it.

Finally, use the string to secure the moss—you can use just enough to keep the moss in place. Remember that there’s no perfect way to wrap the ball, a more natural approach allows the moss to still be seen.

You can also use twine to wrap your moss ball. There is no right or wrong pattern and it will depend on your personal style. You can create clean lines and patterns or wrap it according to how you want it to look to reflect another Japanese aesthetic— wabi sabi, or beauty in imperfection. 

Finish your project by personalizing your kokedama. You can add colored string, beads, and other embellishments. Have fun and be creative!

Let the video below be your guide:

Make sure your kokedama will survive with these tips:

  • Water your kokedama as needed. It needs water if the ball feels light and dry to the touch. To water it, submerge the ball (not the plant) in water, and hold it down until it starts to absorb water.

RL Tip: Once the bubbles stop, you’ll know that it has had its fill.

  • Allow the ball to dry out until the next soak if the plant is a succulent. For leafy plants, keep the ball moist at all times. You can mist it daily using the spray bottle to keep the moss green.
  • Make sure your kokedama doesn’t dry out immediately by keeping it out of direct sunlight, but make sure it still gets a good amount of bright light.

To learn how you can get your hands on succulents and for more plant love, follow Smarty Plants PH on Facebook and Instagram.

Video by Gio Oliva.

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