DIY Kokedama Moss Ball Garden

I tend to go “ga-ga” over anything Japanese when it comes to design (ahem, and food). Sam and I have shared with you our penchant for shou-sugi-ban, the Japanese art of burned wood, in a few of our posts and projects. Today, my green thumb is taking a wack at the Japanese technique of hanging string gardens called Kokedama. I know, sounds fancy, right? I know! It sounds super fancy and fussy…but it is far from either of those descriptions. Kokedama is a simple and beautiful way to garden indoors and outdoors. In fact, this rather cost effective “craft” could make for the perfect hostess or holiday gift. Honestly, you may become so addicted to making moss ball string gardens that you find that you HAVE to gift some of the away or your house may take on a whimsical plant museum vibe!

Sphagnum moss, a society palm, a purple begonia, a maidenhair fern, cotton string and scissors ready for creating a string garden

When choosing plants for your kokedama garden, look for plants that like a little acid in their soil. Moss does a great job of retaining moisture, but it also does a great job of acidifying soil. Instead of fighting acidic soil, look for plants that will revel in it!

Acid loving plants (like ferns, azaleas, begonias, etc)
sphagnum moss
100% cotton string
potting soil

Placing sphagnum moss in a bowl of fresh water
Squeezing out the excess water in the sphagnum moss

The first step is to soak some sphagnum moss in fresh water. Once it has soaked for a minute, give it a squeeze to rid it of excess water. Then, on a table top that you don’t mind getting messy, pile your moistened sphagnum moss into a circular formation. In the center, fill it with a bit of fresh potting mix.

Placing the sphagnum moss on a table surface in circular pile
Filling the center of the sphagnum moss circle with clean potting soil
Pressing the root ball of a maiden hair fern into a ball shape.

Removing your chosen plant from the pot it came in, gently press and mold the soil and roots into a ball shape.

Placing the balled up root ball of the maiden hair fern on top of the potting soil in the middle of the sphagnum moss pile
Making a slip knot with the cotton string

Using 100% cotton string, make a basic slip knot. Then, gently fold the moss up around the root ball and wrap the slip knot around the entire thing. Carefully pull the slip knot snug and then begin to wrap. You will feel the whole moss ball become solid and secure the more you wrap the string around the circumference at random angles.

Securing the slip knot around the moss lined root ball
Folding up the sphagnum moss around the root ball of the maiden hair fern
Wrapping the cotton string around the the moss covered root ball until it is secure

Once you are satisfied with how many times around you have wrapped the root ball, tie your loose end snuggly to one of the wrapped strings. Then let the string out about two feet and tie the end to a spot on the opposing side of the plant. This will be your “hanger.”

A kokedama hanging string garden of  maiden hair fernA kokedama string garden of society palm A kokedama string garden with society palm, maiden hair fern, and purple begonia

I adore the utter simplicity of this garden. Depending on the time of year and the location of your plants, you will need to give their root balls a dunk in fresh water once or twice a week. I don’t even bring mine down for a dunk, I just lift a bowl of water up to them and give them a dunk in place! Super easy! It is kind of awesome how happy my little plants have been. They just love the acidified soil! These little guys really make me smile.