Kokedama, a traditional Japanese gardening technique, has gained popularity in recent years as a unique and artistic way to display plants. The word "kokedama" translates to "moss ball" in English, which perfectly describes the essence of this practice.
Originating from the bonsai tradition, kokedama involves wrapping the plant's root system in a ball of soil and moss, which is then secured with string or wire. This method allows for a self-contained ecosystem where the plant can thrive without the need for a traditional pot.
The art of kokedama is a product of traditional Japanese aesthetics, Wabi-Sabi which celebrates imperfections. It promotes a more natural and organic approach to gardening, as it mimics how plants grow in their natural habitats. By eliminating the need for pots, kokedama encourages creativity in displaying plants and offers an alternative way to bring greenery into small spaces.
In addition to its decorative appeal, kokedama also offers practical benefits. The moss surrounding the root ball helps retain moisture while providing insulation against extreme temperatures. This allows for less frequent watering compared to conventional potted plants.
Best Plants For Kokedama
While traditionally practiced with ferns and other shade-loving plants, kokedama has evolved to include various plant species such as succulents, herbs, and even flowering plants. This versatility makes it accessible to both indoor and outdoor gardeners alike.
Here are some examples of plants to use:
Kokedama requires specific soil conditions to thrive. The type of soil needed for kokedama depends on the specific plant species being used. For instance, if you plan on using a succulent, use succulent/cactus soil. In general, a well-draining and nutrient-rich soil mixture is recommended. A common soil mix for kokedama consists of equal parts peat moss or potting soil and bonsai soil or akadama (a type of clay granules. Peat moss or potting soil helps retain moisture, while bonsai soil or akadama provides essential nutrients and drainage. It is important to note that different plant species may have varying requirements when it comes to the composition of the soil mix. Some plants may prefer more moisture-retentive soils, while others may require a lighter mix with increased drainage.
Type Of Moss
The most commonly used moss for kokedama is sphagnum moss. Sphagnum moss has excellent water retention properties and provides a suitable environment for the plant's roots to grow and thrive.
Other types of moss can also be used for kokedama, depending on personal preference and availability. These include sheet moss, mood moss, pillow moss, and fern moss. Each type of moss has its own unique characteristics and aesthetic appeal.
It is important to choose a high-quality and healthy type of moss when creating kokedama. This ensures that the plant receives adequate moisture and nutrients while maintaining an attractive appearance. Additionally, proper care and maintenance are essential to keep the kokedama healthy and prevent any issues related to moisture retention or mold growth.
Regular monitoring of the moisture levels in the kokedama is crucial. Overwatering can lead to root rot, while underwatering can cause dehydration and hinder plant growth. It is essential to strike a balance by providing adequate watering based on the specific needs of your kokedama plant.
By ensuring the right kind of soil for your kokedama, you can create an optimal environment for your plants to flourish and add a touch of natural beauty to your living space.
- Fishing Line, Jute Twine, or Wax String
- Plant of Choice – before starting clean up the plant and take off any dead leaves.
- Sphagnum Moss
Step By Step Guide
Creating your own kokedama allows you to bring nature indoors while also embracing an ancient Japanese art form. Enjoy the process of creating and caring for your kokedama and watch as it becomes a unique and beautiful addition to your home or garden. They are not meant to be perfect, so get ready to celebrate your imperfections.
Step 1: Pre-soak sphagnum or preserved sheet moss.
Step 2: Prepare the soil. Mix equal quantities of bonsai soil and potting mix. Use a cup of each. Start adding water. Pour the water in small amounts until the mixture is moist but not overly wet. It needs to be moist enough to get the ingredients to stick together.
Step 3: Form a sphere with the soil. The size will depend on the plant size. Depending on the soils used, you might have to add more potting soil in to get the mixture correct.
Step 4: Carefully remove the plant from its container and gently shake off excess soil from the roots. If necessary, trim any long or damaged roots.
Step 5: Crack the sphere open in the middle and place the plant inside.
Step 6: Lay pre-soaked moss down with green side down.
Step 7: Place the root ball of the plant in the center of the moss and begin wrapping it around, shaping it into a ball. Make sure to cover all exposed roots with moss.
Step 8: Secure with string or twine. Once you have shaped your moss ball, use string or twine to secure it tightly. Start by tying one end securely around the base of the ball and then crisscrossing it over the top to create a web-like pattern. Tie off the other end firmly. Keep wrapping until the moss feels secure.
Step 9: Hang or display your kokedama. Once your kokedama is securely wrapped, you can choose to hang it using additional string or twine tied to its top portion. You can display it on a decorative tray or dish filled with water for added humidity.
Care and Maintenance
Lighting – Know the lighting requirements of your plant. Medium bright indirect light works for most kokedama. Succulents and Bonsai prefer direct sunlight.
Watering – Soak your kokedama in a bowl of water for about 5-10 minutes about once a week. Make sure the plant does not fall over in the bowl and do not soak the foliage. Succulents can go for about 2 weeks. Some ferns might be twice a week unless the humidity is higher than it would be once a week. If the plant is hanging and you can’t take it down, you can mist it or hose it down.
Fertilizing – Fertilize the kokedama in the spring and summer months once a week. Dilute the fertilizer to half-strength and put it in the water when you soak your kokedama. A foliar spray can be used.
Repotting – Depending on the rate of growth of the plant, the kokedama typically lasts two years. If the plant grows quickly, it will be sooner. You can either redo the same process and make a larger kokedama or put your plant in a container.
Whether you are an experienced gardener or just starting out with your green thumb journey, exploring the world of kokedama can be a rewarding experience. From creating your own unique designs to discovering new ways to display your favorite plants, this ancient Japanese technique brings nature closer into our lives while adding an artistic touch to our surroundings.