This was a delightful craft project I did for Crafty Magazine and I just found this post hidden in my drafts, better late than never! Inspired by the Japanese art of Kokedama or moss ball making, where plants are held in a suspension of earth bound by moss and string or wire. There’s a great article on it here.
The Kokedama faithful use peat moss and akadama but these aren’t widely available so I decided to experiment with peat free compost, ‘normal’ soil and some gardening grit and found I could achieve a ball shape just as well. I used some gardening twine as I wanted a wrapped look, but if you want more moss showing, thin black cotton cord will give a more natural look.
First I chose my plants and it’s best to opt for those whose root system is fairly robust and can be separated into small sections easily, like grasses or ferns (but you can use pretty much any small plant / leafy section. Gently tease the roots apart to get the size you want, as below.
I lightly bound the roots together using a couple of lengths of sphagnum moss (B&Q) :
I’d mixed up a wet mix of normal rich garden soil, peat free compost and some garden grit for drainage to get a clay type composition which would bind together in a ball. Yep, it’s get your hands dirty time. The Japanese use plastic sheets to wrap and mould the soil but I don’t mind a bit of mud 😉
Form a ball of soil around the roots of your plants as below, large enough to allow some root growth, mine was approximately 3 inches or 8cm in diameter.
Then wrap your garden collected or shop bought moss around the soil ball and press it tight into the wet soil:…and bind everything together using garden twine, string, waxed polyester or cotton. I wanted a wrapped look and had some twine available (top image below), but the more traditional way is for a more mossy look (second image below from Ecobota):
Make sure you keep yours well watered as moss doesn’t like to dry out, spritz regularly and dunk in water once a week or when the ball dries out to keep the roots moist. Watering all depends on where you hang or sit your Kokedama and how warm the room is of course, so be sure to keep an eye on them like you would any other house plant 🙂
These look great – well done. I must give this a go – Thank you. I’ve got more conventional hanging baskets but am always looking for new ideas.
Thanks Bec, they’re very cute aren’t they? 🙂
Great article! One thing that may be of interest to you though is that a great substitute for Akadama soil in the UK is Tesco premium lightweight cat litter, the one in the pink and cream wax paper bags. Many of us Bonsai enthusiasts have been keeping specimen trees in it for years without problems. Just rinse it until the water runs clear and off you go! A lot cheaper than Akadama or Kyadama and every bit as good! -Katrina. X
Such great advice! Thanks 🙂