How To ..... Kokedama !
A kokedama is, like Japanese bonsai or Chinese penjing, a form of garden art. The word translates to “moss ball” and is as much about the artistry of display as it is about a living plant. To make a kokedama, a plant and its root system is transplanted from a pot into a ball of soil which is then surrounded by a layer of moss and then wrapped with twine or string. Sometimes kokedama are fixed to a surface, like a piece of wood, but more often you will see them suspended from string. These hanging moss balls have taken off as a hugely popular form of garden creativity much in the same way as the resurgence of macramé we discussed a couple of weeks ago. They can be such a charming and playful way to nurture and display a plant – like big mossy pom poms – and they can also be elegantly sculptural and beautiful. Hanging kokedama are the perfect way to overcome the challenge presented by spaces where the available surface area for keeping potted plants is limited. With kokedama, the sky is almost literally the limit!
What you will need to make your own:
- Potting mix
- Peat soil (which helps retain moisture)
- A small amount of slow release fertiliser
- Sphagnum moss
- Your selected plant
- Twine or string
- An extra ball of twine or string (you might like to use a pretty colour for this)
- 2 large round bowls
1. Place the sphagnum moss into one of the bowls and wet it down with water so it’s nice a damp but not too mushy
2. Take your other round bowl (the size of which will help determine how large your moss ball is) and crisscross a few lengths of twine across the bowl with plenty of length overhanging the edge – you will be using this to secure the moss towards the end of the process
3. Line the bowl with a layer of the damp sphagnum moss
4. Place the plant, with its root system in tact into the moss lined bowl and pack around its roots with your mix of peat, potting mix and fertiliser – be sure to pack it densely and firmly as this is what will form a sturdy moss ball
5. Cover the exposed soil mixture with a layer of sphagnum moss and, using the lengths of twine, tie it firmly down
6. Using your second ball of twine, tie the end to the existing knotted twine, gently remove the ball from the bowl, then wrap the twine around it, crisscrossing back and forth all the way around until you are satisfied that the moss is firmly secured and the whole thing looks gorgeous
7. Suspend the moss ball from the ceiling or from a shelf or beam, making sure that the plant is upright
8. Voila! Your very own kokedama.
I used a scindapsus plant for this one which is ideal for kodedama because it is a hardy little beast as well as being lovely. It can cope with inconsistent watering and will continue to flourish in the shade. You can use all kinds of plants for your kokedama but just be aware that some will require very specific and consistent care. Try tropical plants like orchids, anthuriums, angel hair vines and begonias. Depending upon their moisture requirements, you can pop the whole ball into water when it starts getting dried out then hang it somewhere it can drip for a while (i.e. not over your Persian rug). I hang mine out over the terrace from time to time and it’s a pleasure to watch these organic sculptures swinging gently in the breeze.
Phot credits Top image via http://www.rv-orchidworks.com/ all other images are Terraces own.
- Paul Hopper