Kokedama String Gardens


Kokedama” is a rapidly rising search term that promises continued growth as more and more gardeners flock to find out about the gardening trend of the year. Perhaps it’s the creativity in which a gardener shapes the plant into a sculptural object or the eco-friendly nature of this container-free planting technique that keeps garden-lovers buzzing with excitement. Whatever the initial attraction, Kokedama is a innovative, cost effective way to decorate your home or outdoor garden.

An artistic plant hanging technique, Kodedama is a Japanese word that simply translates into “moss ball.” Initially popular in Japan, then spread across Euro-Asia, it’s now hopped across the pond and firmly taken root in the US. Professional landscapers, artists and gardeners are adopting the techniques to create upscale, artistic plant designs as popularity increases. Cheap, beautiful and effective for every space, the process requires very little material and just a dash of ingenuity to perfect.

Erin Kinsey, a Kodedama expert at Artisan Moss says in addition to live Kokedama string gardens, gardeners can create Kodedama from dried or preserved plants.

“Dried and preserved Kokedama are my favorite since they are totally care free,” says Kinsey. “Living Kokedama require a little more effort than caring for a regular style house plant as they tend to dry out faster and need to drip-dry in the sink before hanging again.”

Kinsey uses materials like circular florist foam, sphagnum moss, thin fishing line or embroidery thread to help form shapes for dried Kokedama creations, some of which may be viewed at the Artisan Moss Etsy Shop:https://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtisanMoss

The basic process for constructing a no-care preserved Kokedama plant involves:

  • Creating and securing a center shape using a spongy material such as moss
  • Covering the center with an attractive outer moss layer and securing it in place
  • Securing a long string to the center for hanging the Kokedama creation
  • Adding dried foliage cuttings by inserting the ends into the top of the moss ball shape

“Essentially the process is the same for wrapping moss and tying string for dried or living Kokedama,” says Kinsey. “The difference is the living plant’s roots hold your inner core, you won’t need to create one.”

For living Kokedama, Kinsey suggests beginners use succulents or drought tolerant ferns like Birds Nest Fern or Ming Fern. These will be the easiest plants to care for, yielding a bountiful Kodedama string garden.

As new methods continue to be introduced, the Kodedama craze will likely continue, attracting garden lovers with an eye for natural art and a love of recycling.

Create a Kokedama String Herb Garden for Your Kitchen

Kokedama StringA lovely addition to any kitchen herb garden, Kokedama may look complex but is actually accomplished in a few simple steps.  The only materials you need are scissors, a medium-size bowl, string, soil, moss and whatever you wish to plant.

Jute twine, the same you use to string trellises to support tomato plants, works very well for this D.I.Y. project.  You can purchase live moss for planting, but I prefer to collect it from our forest.  Just give it a little shake and inspection to make sure no critters are clinging and it’s ready to use (plus it’s free material, always a plus!) 

Herbs are ideal plants for Kokedama, but houseplants and ornamental grasses are well suited, too.  The plant, ideally, should be in early stage growth, so if you are dealing with herbs start them well ahead of planting or purchase a few transplants from your local greenhouse.

Step 1:  Cut two 4-foot long lengths of twine.  Lay the center of the twine in the medium bowl so the that the ends of the twine are hanging over the edges of the bowl and the center of each length of twine is overlapped in an X-shape.

Kokedama DirtStep 2:   Wet potting soil until fully moistened.  Remove herb transplant from it’s container and shake excess soil from roots.  Using wet potting soil, begin to form a ball shape with soil around the roots of the herb plant.  (as pictured.)

Step 3:  Wrap a layer of moss around the soil ball that you have formed.  Pat in place so that moss begins to stick to the wet soil.  Place moss ball in bowl atop twine.  Herb plant should be facing upward.

Step 4:  Begin tying off string around the moss ball by first crossing a layer of twine on the upper sides of the ball.

Step 5:  When the sides and top of the balls of moss are secured with twine, remove the plant from the bowl.  Continue tying twine around the ball of moss until all sides are secured.  Follow the curves of the ball of moss as you loop and tie the twine to keep the ball shape.  Don’t worry if your twine ties look “pretty” at this point or if you have more ties than you think you should have.  As the plant grows, the twine will begin to disappear into the moss and it won’t matter!

Kokedama Tie 2Step 6:  Once ball is fully secured, pull the remaining lengths of twine together and loop off to create a hanger.  If you’d rather just have the Kokedama string plant rest on a counter top, simply cut the remaining lengths of twine off.

If you find that you do not have enough moss to cover the ball or if it slides during the tie-off process, just add a little more moss to the open space and secure with twine.

Cut and tend to your herbs as you normally would, enjoying the natural beauty of the Kokedama container.

To water, submerge the moss ball in water for 10 minutes, being mindful to only submerge the moss container and not the plant.  Remove the moss ball from the water and gently squeeze it to drain excess water or allow it to drip-dry over a water container.  Plants will typically need to be watered twice weekly.  Judge by your plant, though.  If it looks dry or droopy, water.  If not, let it go a little longer between watering.

From my experience, Kokedama container plants tend to thrive in a South-facing window, but feel free to experiment to find the best locations for your green beauties!