Kokedama: Japanese Moss Garden (or how to make a string garden)

Terrarium sized plants are perfect for starter plants for Kokedama. They're easy to work with, generally don't mind the wet feet, and help a beginner out. Instead of hanging them, you can use decorative bowls or plant trays.

Terrarium sized plants are perfect for starter plants for Kokedama. They're easy to work with, generally don't mind the wet feet, and help a beginner out. Instead of hanging them, you can use decorative bowls or plant trays.

What is Kokedama? In Japanese koke is moss and dama is ball, so we're making moss balls, using mud, moss, plants and string to hang them. Or if you've no room to hang them, make a table display with them by grouping them in a decorative bowl.

Many people like to hang them using fishing line or string. It’s also fun to arrange them on small plant trays or in decorative bowls.

The life span is close to 2 years, at which point you need to take the plant out and repot it. They're easy to care for, simply dunk them (the whole ball) in water once a week, and allow to drain in the sink. Sometimes, you'll need to refresh the moss, but not often. 

What You'll Need:

  • Small, terrarium like plants that don't mind wet feet. Good choices are ferns, bamboo, pitcher plants, succulents, ivy, and ajuga. Ask Jenna Mace, our tropicals buyer for suggestions.

  • Soil (bonsai soil or Fafard professional potting mix or a 50/50 mix of the two)

  • Sheet or live moss

  • String or fishing line

  • Raffia, silk ribbon, or colored twine (only if you want to pretty up the ball in a different sort of way)

  • Water

  • Scissors

It doesn’t have to be moss. These succulents are wrapped in soil and grapevine.

1. Soak the moss in a bucket for about an hour.

2. Water the soil to make it workable (think mud balls), then form a hole in the ball for the roots of your plant. Make it a wide space. If doing bulbs, start with one bulb, and cover the roots of the entire bulb in soil, creating a sphere. 

3. Add additional bulbs one at a time, incorporating more soil as needed to completely cover the roots or bulbs.

4. Drain your moss, extracting the extra water from it, and either cut or gather enough moss to completely cover the ball of soil.

5. Wrap completely, pressing gently to keep the moss together.

6. Choose a colorful raffia, or if  you prefer, use a colored twine, or just brown twine (it needs to be strong to hold the ball if you're going to hang it) and begin wrapping the moss ball. Wrap tightly. This helps the ball maintain it's shape.

7. When you finish wrapping, tie the ends of your string together with a strong knot.

 9. Cut a length of your favorite ribbon (or whatever you plan to use for hanging), and attach it near the top of the ball.

10. To water, completely submerge the moss ball. Watch for the bubbles to disappear. When that happens the plant is watered. Gently squeeze out excess water and let drain over night before re-hanging.

After blooming, plant primroses outside.

11. A good way to know if your plant needs water is to check the weight. Is it light? It needs water.

These make perfect holiday hostess gifts or a easy project for the kids. This is a fun, easy way to bring plants indoors.

Cinthia Milner, garden coach, and blog writer.

BB Barns Garden Center serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina, and Tennessee.