How to Make a Kokedama Ball

This centuries-old Japanese garden form is making a comeback. We'll show you the steps for making a kokedama and how to care for it.

Kokedama is a Japanese bonsai variety that thrives indoors and makes a great hanging accent. Whether you're looking for an ornament to fill the corners of your small apartment, or need a time-killer to keep you busy on a rainy day, these hanging soil and moss balls are easy to make using just a few materials.

How does kokedama work? You begin by mixing peat moss and bonsai soil, then slowly adding water until the compound adheres as a ball. This will be your base. Wrap the roots of a plant (we used a fern) in damp sphagnum moss, bind it in twine, and insert it into the soil ball. Finish it in sheet moss, with more twine to secure, and then spritz with water.

Once your kokedama is finished, don't feel limited to simply hanging it. It also will make an impact in a clear bowl or on a wooden shelf.

How to Make a Kokedama Ball

BHG / Michela Buttignol

How to Make Kokedama at Home

Supplies Required

  • Bonsai soil
  • Peat moss
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Ferns (or similar plant type)
  • Assorted jute twines
  • Scissors
  • Water

Step 1: Make and Form Soil Balls

Mix peat moss and bonsai soil together in a 7:3 ratio. Slowly add water and mix until it reaches a consistency to form a soil ball that stays together and is about the size of a grapefruit or large orange.

Step 2: Wrap Ferns with Moss

Soak the sphagnum moss in water until it's damp, then rinse. Next, take the fern plants and clean the soil from the roots. Use the damp sphagnum moss to wrap the roots and bind the fern with twine.

person holding kokedama plant above wooden table

Step 3: Form Soil Ball Around Moss Ball

Break the soil ball in half. Place the moss-wrapped plant between the two halves, shaping the resulting ball as needed. Use sheet moss to wrap the ball, then bind it with twine. When the kokedama is done, spritz it with water.

hand holding kokedama moss above brown paper with glass jar

Kokedama Care

Watering Kokedama

The best way to determine if your plant needs water is to feel how heavy it is. When the ball feels light, there's a good chance it needs to be watered. Another telltale sign that your plant needs watering is browning of the tips of its leaves. Cut off any brown parts of the plant to keep it from spreading.

Watering your plant is simple: Soak the ball in a bowl of room-temperature water for about 10 minutes. Then transfer the ball to a colander for a few minutes to allow it to drain off any excess water. When the ball no longer drips, it's ready to hang again.

Two indications that your plant is being overwatered, or is not fully drying, are yellowing leaves and the presence of mold. If you find mold on your plant, don't fret—simply trim the infected leaf or rinse the mold off with a warm, wet towel.

Moss Lighting Needs

Like most plants, kokedama is going to need some light to thrive—but not too much. Since the plant is moss-based, it's more likely to dry out if sitting in direct light. To elongate its life, pick a semi-shady spot in your home and keep a close eye on it.

Fertilizing Kokedama

Once a month, fertilize your plant to give it the nutrients it needs. Simply add a water-soluble indoor plant fertilizer to your water-soaking routine, using half of the product's recommended concentration.

spring floral arrangements with tulips and decorative grass

Decorating With Kokedama

There are many ways to enjoy your kokedama plant, both inside and outside your home.

Hang kokedama in an office space or bathroom (the moss will love the moisture), above a kitchen island, or as a centerpiece on a dining room table. For outdoor spaces, hang kokedama from a pergola, balcony, porch, or other shady area.

If you're interested in adding more color, instead of planting fern in the middle of the ball, as we did, add colorful blooms like tulips or English roses.

different types of kokedama moss on landscaping rock

More About Moss

Mosses are nonvascular plants, grouped according to growth pattern to include acrocarps and pleurocarps. Acrocarps are unbranched and erect, forming a mounded colony. Pleurocarps are branched and spreading, with a fernlike look, forming a colony in a creeping, chaotic fashion. Each type has a different design appeal. The tiny sporophytes reaching for the sky produce spores that develop into the soft green mat we recognize as moss.

Harvest moss from your own property, or check local garden centers, floral shops, and online sources. It is illegal to remove moss from protected areas, such as state and national parks and public lands.

To collect moss, use a spatula, collecting a thin layer of soil along with the moss. Always collect responsibly, removing only small portions of a colony. Keep in mind that moss is sensitive to metals and chemicals.

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