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How to make a kokedama

Learn something new and refresh your space with this beautiful Japanese organic art form

So what is a kokedama? In Japanese the word kokedama means ‘moss ball’, and it is a style of potting up plants. The roots of the plant are suspended in a mud ball which is then coated with soft green moss. We called upon Amsterdam-based design studio We Smell The Rain to give us a tutorial on how to make one.

Here, the studio’s founder Kim Band shows you how it’s done.

Tools and Materials:

  • A jug of water
  • A mug
  • Two types of cotton thread (a thin one and a thicker one)
  • A bowl
  • Green sheet moss
  • Sphagnum sheet moss
  • Earth or indoor plant soil
  • Plant (high stem preferred)

STEP 1: Turn the mud into a ball

Start by putting a few cups of soil into the bowl according to the plant’s pot size, which is a helpful indicator of how big you should make your mud ball. Add some water to moisten the soil, but don’t make it extremely thin and wet – you should go for a sticky consistency. Then, take the soil and shape it with your palms. Continue to add soil bit by bit to turn it into a ball.


STEP 2: Prepare the sheet moss

To prepare the sheet moss, remove all the little sticks or anything else you find stuck in the moss. The best way to do so is by sweeping your fingers over the moss and wriggling the sticks out. Do the same with the other side of the moss. Make sure that you make the moss as flat as possible by pulling extra moss from any uneven areas.


STEP 3: Make the plant ready

The plant should have dry soil so that you can easily pull it out of the pot and crumble the soil away to leave bare roots. To remove the last of the soil, gently tap the root ball against the side of the bowl you’re using to catch the dirt – the soil should fall away itself. Once you have prepared the root base, place the sphagnum moss around it, then secure the moss and the roots together very loosely with the thin cotton thread.


STEP 4: Put it all together

Place the mud ball directly in the centre of the moss. Cradle the ball, and with your thumb, push in the centre to make a hole where you will place the plant. Place the plant within the hole, folding the roots a bit if you need to. To secure the moss around the ball, start by roughly wrapping the thicker cotton thread around the plant. Leave the tail of the cotton exposed so when you have finished wrapping, you can tightly knot the two tails together. If the base becomes flat, squeeze and shape the ball to make it round.

How to take care of the kokedama

If your kokedama feels light when picked up – that’s the moment to water the plant. Pour some water into a bowl (to about the height of the middle of the root ball) and rest the plant there until it feels heavier. When you take it out, squeeze the ball to remove the excess water.

This tutorial is featured in the IKEA Virtual Greenhouse – an online platform designed to share specially crafted workshops from creative experts in sustainability, design, food, and floristry.

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