Kokedamas. You’ve certainly seen them: small houseplants growing in a moss-covered ball, often sitting on decorative trays or plates or hanging from the ceiling like little green planets. They’re incredibly trendy: all the Hollywood glitterati have them. And that means you need one too!

It used to be that you either had to buy a kokedama complete with plant ($$$) or make your own, a rather laborious process involving wrapping the plant’s root in layers of soil, clay and moss and binding the whole thing together with string. But not anymore!

20190211B www.hooksandlattice.com & milled.com
Just pop a plant into the kokedama shell and bingo: you have an instant kokedama!
Photo: http://www.hooksandlattice.com & milled.com. Montage: laidbackgardener.blog

Yes, you can now buy empty kokedama pots covered with fake moss! Ain’t life grand! Just pot up an expendable small houseplant into the shell and fill in any empty space with potting mi. Then soak well, let drain and hang up or set on a bonsai tray.

Voilà! An instant kokedama!

Keeping Your Instant Kokedama Alive!

The Hollywood glitterati have “people” keeping their kokedamas thriving. Maybe you can’t afford that luxury. So, you’ll have to be your own people.

Kokedamas are not low maintenance. They dry out very quickly, especially hanging ones, and may need watering several times a week. Don’t wait until the leaves wilt or bye-bye plant! Instead, hoist it. If it feels light, it’s dry enough to need watering.

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Water a kokedama by soaking it. Photo: adiantumplus.ru.

The only logical way to water a kokedama is by soaking it. Plunge the whole pot (indeed, the entire plant if you want) into a bucket of tepid water (you can add a pinch or two of soluble all-purpose fertilizer to the water during the growing season). 10 minutes or so later, remove it, let it drain, then put it back in its usual spot.

Light needs will vary enormously, depending on the plant you’ve put into the pot. Most houseplants need very bright light with at least some sun (morning sun is best) per day to do well.

Unless you’ve used a succulent in your kokedama, you’ll need to increase air humidity during the winter months. A room humidifier might do the trick. Don’t waste time misting the leaves with water: that simply doesn’t work.

The rest is pretty simple. Normal room temperatures are usually fine. Remove yellowed or brown leaves. Prune back overly long stems. Etc.

Isn’t Using a Kokedama Pot Cheating?

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Preformed kokedama pot. Rather seems like cheating, doesn’t it? Photo: fr.aliexpress.com

I suppose you could think that. Especially if you believe the hype, that the art of kokedama, a Japanese term that translates as “ball of moss,” is a thousand-year-old Japanese tradition handed down from generation to generation and based on the even more ancient art of bonsai. But it ain’t so.

Kokedamas are, in fact, only vaguely inspired by bonsai and the “art” of kokedama is far from ancient. It only popped up in Japan in the 1990s and it was really the Dutch who took the rootball and ran with it this century, making kokedama a (nearly) household word!

So, I don’t think you could really say there is a kokedama tradition. And if there is no tradition, why would taking the easy way out, that is, by using a preformed pot, be cheating?

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Show off your instant kokedama and gain universal admiration. Ill.: ww.thecoolrepublic.com & laidbackgardener.blog

So, go ahead! The next time you have friends over, impress them with a kokedama you made your very own self.

No need to mention you just popped a plant into a preformed pot five minutes before they arrived!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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