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!

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Just pop a plant into the kokedama shell and bingo: you have an instant kokedama!
Photo: 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!

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, laidbackgardener.blog will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

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