What is a Kokedama?

The name Kokedama literally translates from “koke” meaning moss, and “dama” meaning ball. These moss balls are a centuries old tradition in Japanese gardening and are somewhat related to the accent plants often shown alongside a Bonsai. This style has experienced a resurgence as a modern art form, as it is a unique way to present plants and flowers and bring a little more nature into your space. A Kokedama can be created with a wide variety of plant species, providing a range of possibilities!

The distinctive round shape can be made by first molding a compact ball of soil, roughly the size of a grapefruit. Traditionally this would be made with an Akadama, or Bonsai soil, which is clay based. The clay granules are mixed with peat moss, and together they provide minerals to the plants and offer a balance of moisture retention and drainage. This means that the soil holds enough water for your plant, but releases enough as to not oversaturate the roots. A more cost-effective option is to use a standard potting soil, or a cactus and succulent mix, however this can dry out more quickly.

Once your clay ball is made, you can give it a little toss in the air to make sure that it holds together well enough. If it is still crumbly, add a little water until it keeps its form. Then you can either split it in half or use your fingers to create a hole in the top. Your plant should be removed from its pot and as much soil as possible cleaned from the roots. The roots will then be either placed in the hole, or sandwiched between the two halves. The ball will need to be re-formed around the roots to ensure they are snuggly held within and the ball will still retain its shape.

A sheet of sphagnum moss is wrapped around the ball, up to the base of the plant, and then secured with twine, wire, or nylon string. The method of wrapping is up to the individual, and can be a creative way to add unique detail. You want to wrap the binding around enough to ensure that the moss is held in place, and after that it is a matter of decoration.  The moss balls are traditionally displayed on a shallow tray or dish, but can also been displayed as hanging plants.

How do you water a Kokedama?

Luckily, this is a relatively straight-forward task! The best way to determine if it needs water is to feel how heavy it is. You can also check the moss to see how dried out it feels to the touch. How easy is that? Soaking the ball in water for about 10 minutes should be more than enough to make sure it is saturated.

What kinds of plants can be used?

There are many options for plants that will do well as a kokedama, and this allows for a wide variety of styles. However, the primary thing to take into consideration is how much moisture the plant can tolerate. Plants that are typically prone to overwatering will not do well sitting in the consistently moist soil, and should be avoided. This primarily includes cacti and succulents; however, these are not out of the question if using an appropriate soil. Always check the requirements of the plant, to ensure that you are selecting one that will thrive. Also take light conditions into consideration. These balls should never be placed in direct sunlight, as it will dry out and “burn” the moss, making it crispy and brown. So, plants that prefer from low to bright indirect light will do best.

Some plants to consider:

  • Ferns (be sure to still mist them, as our dry air in Colorado can still be problematic)
  • Pothos
  • Philodendron
  • Ivy
  • African Violet
  • Peperomia
  • Begonia
  • Money tree
  • Spider plant
  • Ficus varieties

If you want to learn art of Kokedama yourself, join us for a fun hands-on workshop on March 11th. We’ll provide instruction, assistance, and all materials! Space is limited, registration is Purchase tickets HERE.