I’m a huge fan of Japanese decor and culture, and our house is sprinkled with various souvenirs we’ve picked up from our two trips there. I’ve tried my hand at bonsai gardening, and plan to plant bamboo in our backyard as a backdrop to a mini Japanese garden. Recently I learned how to make hanging Japanese moss balls, called kokedama, and now I’m hopelessly addicted! They’re the perfect way to add a little greenery to your home without a bunch of pots cluttering up the windowsill.
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Materials Required to Make Your Own Kokedama
- 4″ potted plant that will tolerate the sunlight of the window you plan to hang it in.
- Potting soil or Bonsai soil
- Peat moss
- Azomite powder
- This is a trace mineral that will give your plant the nutrients it needs.
- Sheet moss
- Clear fishing line
- Jute twine (optional)
How to Make a Kokedama (Japanese Moss Ball)
Water your plant the day before you plan to make your kokedama. This will ensure that the soil is damp, but not too liquidy to work with.
Remove the plant from pot and mold the soil and roots into a ball shape. I like mine on the smaller side, so I let any loose soil fall away before patting it into shape.
Next, create a mixture of one part peat moss and one part potting soil with a generous handful of azomite. Azomite is a trace mineral that is great for potted plants, because they can’t get the nutrients they need from the surrounding soil like a plant in the ground.
Add water to the mixture, and pat it together to make a ball. It should appear a little wet on outside and hard enough to toss between your hands without breaking.
Crack the ball in half and set them aside.
Soak the sheet moss in water until it becomes soft and pliable. If you don’t have a single piece of moss that’s large enough to cover the entire ball, pinch together smaller sections. Keep the cleanest edges around outside.
Take one half of the ball you cracked open, and form it to the side of the plant’s root ball. Make sure to give the base of the plant some room. Repeat for the other half and continue shaping it until you have a nice ball.
Place the ball in the center of the moss sheet and pull the edges up towards the base of the plant. Again, give the plant some room so it doesn’t have to work hard to grow through the moss. Tear off any excess that might make the ball too bulky.
Wrap the fishing line around the circumference of the moss ball. Tie a few knots to make it secure, leaving about a foot of a tail on the loose end.
Continue wrapping the moss ball with the fishing line until there’s no loose moss and it has formed a shape you like. Keep the fishing line about 1/2″ away from the stems of your plant so the line doesn’t impede its growth. Work your way back to the tail you left at the beginning, and tie the two ends together. The fishing line becomes nearly invisible as it embeds into the moss.
To hang your kokedama, first determine how far down from the hook you want it to hang. I’m making a set of three that will be arranged at different heights. I prefer the look of moss balls hanging magically in midair, so I used fishing line, but you can use jute for a more rustic look.
Measure out a piece of jute twine or fishing line four times the length from the hook. Fold the twine in half, then fold it in half again. Tie the folded ends together to form loops for hanging.
Then tie the loose ends together, splay each of the four lines apart, and place the moss ball in the middle. Make sure the twine is divided equally around the ball, then pull up from the loops and hang!
To care for your kokedama, just submerge the entire ball in a bucket of water about once a week. Over time, you’ll learn when it needs to be watered just by the weight of the ball. When it’s about half its weight, it’s time for a dunking! I added a hook over our kitchen sink to allow them to drain before hanging them back in the window.
With any luck, your kokedama should last about a year in this form. If the plant has outgrown its ball, you can just cut the fishing line, remove the moss and restart the process.
I just love how my trio of kokedama brightens up an otherwise blank corner of our living room!
Want some outdoor gardening ideas? Here are a few that will make your home the envy of the neighborhood! Just click on the photos to go straight to the post.