We’re all about the plant hype, but plain old pots are getting boring. Kokedama, a Japanese form of bonsai, lets us keep our plant obsession while upping the arts factor. Translated loosely, kokedama means "moss ball." The tradition requires a plant to be placed in a ball of soil and moss, then wrapped with string to keep it intact. Once the roots grow through the ball, you can remove the string and the plant will continue to grow. “It adds more dimension to how you can display your plants,” says Dan Gifford, owner of the Lakewood Plant Co. “Plus the culture around it is just fascinating — plants aren’t just something that sit around in Japanese culture. They’re art.”
On A Roll:
Use these five easy steps to make your own moss ball.
Get your supplies. You’ll need bonsai soil, peat moss, a bucket, string or twine, scissors, water and your plant. “You can plant almost anything in kokedama, except for succulents and cacti,” Gifford says. “The moss holds moisture, so they won’t get that good drying-out period they need to thrive.”
Mix it up. In the bucket, mix a one-to-one ratio of peat moss and bonsai soil. A medium-sized ball requires about two cups of each. Then, pour in enough water to soak everything, but not cover it (a quantity equal to about half the amount of soil and moss).
Shake it off. Take your plant and remove all of the soil from around the roots. Be sure to be gentle and only remove the dirt, don’t pull the roots off.
Make a ball. Grab your wet soil mixture and make a ball. Once your ball is round and feels like it is stuck together, make an opening down to the center, place your plant in and close the opening. “We do another wrapping of moss around the outside of the ball to make sure it’s sturdy,” says Gifford.
Wrap it up. Finally, wrap the ball in string or twine. This will ensure the ball keeps its form until the roots grow through it and hold it together — about three months.
Here are three ways to display kokedama.
Hang It. Use the same string you originally wrapped it in, or get creative with some wire or yarn and make a hanging holder. “You’ll want to take the string around it a few times and make sure you’ve got it in there good,” says Gifford. “This way is the most interesting because you’ll be able to see the whole moss ball.”
Make a Glasshouse. Kokedama is a statement all on its own, so setting it in a translucent bowl will let your new plant do the talking. “If you put it in a glass dish, you can set it anywhere and it’s still going to be a conversation piece,” Gifford says. “And it’s easier to water in a dish.”
Mount It. Gifford’s favorite way to display kokedama is by mounting it on wood. “We will look along the beach or go to Metro Hardwoods for some cool pieces of wood,” he explains. You can use nails or staples to attach the string from the ball to the wood. “It’s going to look like a work of art hanging on your wall.”