How To Make A Kokedama: DIY 'String Garden' Tutorial
Ever wondered how to make a kokedama? It's easy!
Kokedama, sometimes called string gardens or Japanese moss balls, are a form of bonsai that dates back to the Edo era in Japan, circa 1600. Kokedama are just as beautiful to look at as they are fun to make, and thrive indoors - perfect for a corner nook in a small apartments or for creating a beautiful floating garden.
Our shop has been making these mystical moss balls for years, and we're excited to share our method with you and show you how to make a kokedama of your very own.
There are many different takes on how to make a kokedama, and ours is a bit different from the rest, so feel free to leave any questions in the comments and we'll get back to you as soon as possible!
How To Make a Kokedama
These instructions assume that you're working with the materials included in our Kokedama Kit, but you can definitely follow along with your own materials, too! (Need a kit? Get yours here)
Part 1: Gather and prepare materials
Unpack your kokedama kit on to your workspace, taking care to water your plant if it's dry. You should have a cloth bundle tied with twine and filled with moss, a clay mix baggie, a spool of nylon cord and a 4" plant.
Untie the cloth bundle, and set the moss aside. Lay the cloth circle on flat work surface. Empty the contents of the clay mix packet onto the center of the circle, and spray the clay mix until it's evenly moist.
Next, carefully remove your plant from its plastic container. Holding the plant over the cloth circle, gently strip away most of the soil off of the root system and onto the clay mix. Spray plant roots with water and set the plant aside.
Using your hands hands, thoroughly mix soil with the clay mix, spraying with water if necessary, until the clay is evenly distributed with the soil and the mixture feels nice and pliable.
Part 2: Create the inner plant ball
The next step in how to make a kokedama is to create what we'll call the "inner plant ball" - the interior lining that gives the round shape to your kokedama.
Mound the soil/clay mix in the center of the cloth circle. Using a spoon (or your fingers), dig a well in the center of the mound that's large enough to fit the your plant, about the size of a fist. Place plant root system in the well, and fill in with soil mix so that the plant roots are now contained within the soil/clay mix.
Using both hands, gather the cloth and work it into a tight ball around the soil and roots. Secure the cloth around the base of the plant by cinching with twine, creating the inner plant ball. Continue to refine the shape of the ball, pulling on the edges of the cloth to tighten it around the plant. Your goal is to have a tight, circular plant ball
Trim excess cloth from the top of the ball and snip extra twine. Set the inner plant ball aside.
Part 3: Bind with moss
The next and perhaps most fun step in how to make a kokedama is to bind the plant ball with moss.
Submerge your moss completely in a bowl of water, and then ring out the excess so the moss is nice and moist. Set one small piece of moss aside to use later for patching. Arrange the remaining moss green-side down into a circular shape on your work surface, taking care to overlap individual pieces slightly so that the moss circle is continuous.
Place plant ball into center of the moss. Carefully reach your hands under the moss, and then press it around the inner plant ball, compacting the moss lightly into shape so that it stays in place.
If you plan to hang your kokedama, cut about 3' of nylon cord and set aside.
Unwind your nylon cord and wrap one end around the moss ball. Tie the cord tightly a tight double knot, leaving a 4” tail. Do not clip the other end.
Holding the moss ball in one hand, and the nylon cord spool in the other, bind moss to the plant ball with the nylon cord, tightly circling diagonally, horizontally and vertically. Keep the cord taught as you work to ensure that the cord is tight and moss is held in place. Make sure to cover all areas of the inner plant ball with moss, and to wrap the cord all the way to the base of the plant.
Part 4: Finishing touches
Take a look at the moss ball and take care to cover any exposed cloth with moss, patching with the excess moss you set aside earlier if necessary.
When the moss is tightly secured, clip the nylon cord and double knot it to the tail left at the beginning of binding.
If hanging your kokedama, you'll use the reserved nylon cord to make a hanging loop. Look at the moss near the base of the plant for an exposed piece of nylon binding. Work the reserved piece of cord under this exposed binding. Cut to desired length and tie into a loop.
Display and styling
Now that you've made your kokedama, you need to decide the perfect place to display it. Keep in mind, the perfect place aesthetically may not be best for the needs of the plant.
You can read up on the needs of your specific plant species and make sure that your intended home works for your plant on our blog. The same post has specific instructions for how to water and care for you new string garden.
It's best to keep most tropicals out of direct sun and away from drafts, so be sure to hang them slightly away from windows. You can also set your kokedama in a shallow bowl or dish and place it at your desk, on a shelf, or on the windowsill.
Another fun way to display kokedama is to create a cascading floating garden effect. To do this, just make a few more kokedama and hang them at varying lengths near one another. The possibilities and plant combinations are endless!