Kokedama is a Japanese gardening method where a plant’s roots are wrapped in moss, bound by string and suspended. The name comes from the Japanese koke, meaning “moss” and dama meaning “ball.” Although this art form is centuries old, it now takes on a more modern and minimalist form.
String gardens are a great way to add a natural element to your home and bring the outdoors in. They’re easy to create and simple to care for, making this DIY project a win-win.
To help you create your own, we’ve compiled a how-to guide with 7 simple steps. Before you get started, check out the materials you’ll need below:
Kokedama Garden Supplies
- Twine – Pick a heavy duty twine, we recommend hemp or jute.
- Cotton thread – You’ll use this to attach the sheet moss to the base of your kokedama.
- Plant – The best plants for kokedama are hardy plants preferably with smaller root balls. Although, most plants should happily thrive provided there is enough sunlight and they’re properly cared for. Take a look at our list of recommended plants before getting started.
- Water – You’ll need water on hand to get the right soil consistency.
- Scissors – You’ll need to cut string and twine, so have scissors or a sharp knife nearby.
- Sheet moss – Flat, thin sheets of moss will be wrapped around the base of your plant.
- Sphagnum moss – Just like the bonsai soil, surrounding the plant’s roots in sphagnum moss will assure they stay moist. You’ll want to soak the moss in water prior to starting the project and be sure you use enough to surround the roots of the plant.
- Peat soil – Mainly a soil amendment, adding peat soil to your mixture will help your kokedama retain moisture and hold onto nutrients.
- Potting soil – Improves your soil mixture with added nutrients and water managing capabilities.
- Bonsai soil – Due to its ability to retain water, Bonsai soil will give your kokedama the moisture it needs to thrive.
Best Kokedama Plants
Plants that require little root space are best for string gardens. Before making your selection, research which plants will thrive in the elements of your desired spot. We recommend the following:
- String of Pearls
- Button Fern
- Macho Fern
- Peace Lily
Plants to Avoid
There are also certain plants that won’t work well for a kokedama string garden. Cacti and succulents may seem like a viable option due to their trendy reputation, although the loose, sandy soil of these plants make it hard to create the ball you need for your kokedama. Use our list below to help you create a garden that will flourish and thrive.
- Flowering Plants
- Ming Aralia
With your supplies in hand, it’s time to get to work. Create a few kokedama at a time for a larger display, indoors or out!
How to Make a Kokedama String Garden
Project Time: 30 mins
Step 1: Remove the plant from its current home and prune the roots.
Be gentle as you remove excess soil and untangle healthy roots just as you would when repotting a plant. Once you’ve successfully freed the roots from most of the soil, give them a quick soak in room temperature water. At this point, you’ll also want to soak the sphagnum moss in water too.
Step 2: Wrap the roots with sphagnum moss.
Remove the sphagnum moss from the water, and be sure you have enough to surround the plant’s roots. Ring out the moss to remove any excess water and wrap it around the roots securing with the cotton thread.
Step 3: Mix the peat, bonsai and potting soil together.
We recommend a mixture including 4 cups of potting soil, 1 cup peat, 1 cup bonsai and 1 cup of water. Although, you will know you’ve achieved the right consistency when the soil is clay-like and easily sticks together.
Pro Tip: Gradually add water to the mixture if necessary.
Step 4: Use the soil mixture to mold a ball around the roots.
Use the soil mixture to create a ball big enough to surround the moss-covered roots. If you’re having trouble getting the soil to bind together just add more soil and water.
Step 5: Cover the ball with sheet moss.
Wrap the sheet moss around the soil base and fasten with twine. You’ll want to be sure the twine is secure as this is what your plant will be hanging from.
Step 6: Attach more twine and create a loop the plant will hang from.
Continue to wrap the twine around the moss and tie a knot when you think it feels secured enough to stay put and hang properly. Don’t forget to attach a loop to the existing twine, be sure to measure out the appropriate length for the twine since this is what your kokedama will be hanging from.
Step 7: Pick a spot and hang it up.
With proper maintenance and care your string garden should prosper just about anywhere. Most indoor plants tend to enjoy the humidity and in-direct sunlight. Display your string garden where the conditions are best suited for the plant’s needs.
Now that you’ve created your own kokedama string garden, make sure you continue to care for it properly. Although maintenance will depend on the specific plant you’ve selected, we’ve listed a few general care guidelines below.
How to Care for Kokedama
- Your string garden will need to be watered regularly, up to three to five times a week. The weight of the ball is a good indicator of watering needs. When the base becomes lighter, that’s a sign that your plant is thirsty.
- To water your kokedama, submerge the ball plant side up in a bowl of water for about 10-15 minutes. You can also run your kokedama under the sink. Be sure you let it drip dry before hanging it back up.
- In addition to soaking, you can also mist your kokedama daily.
- Check the twine every once in awhile to make sure it’s still secure and replace when needed.
- Clip off any dead leaves or foliage.
- If you start seeing roots, it’s time to repot your your kokedama string garden.
- Make sure that your string garden is getting proper sunlight according to the plant’s needs.
Take your gardening skills to new heights and create your own Japanese inspired string garden. You can find our complete guide with step-by-step instructions below. Save them for a later project, share them with friends or print them to use as you go!
Complete Guide to Making a Kokedama String Garden
Take your gardening skills to new heights and create your own Japanese inspired string garden. You can find our complete guide with step-by-step instructions below. Save them for a later project, share them with friends or print them to use as you go. Happy DIY’ing!