If you want to bring a bit more life into your home, indoor plants are a great idea. But if you’re after something different to a standard pot plant, it’s time to think outside the box.
Kokedama is a Japanese style of planting influenced by bonsai. Typically, the rootball of plants is bundled in moss and wrapped with twine or wire to create an unusual and eye-catching interior piece.
All the materials to create a kokedama can be found at a typical garden store, including the plant. In this demonstration, we’re using an orchid, a beautiful, surprisingly hardy and often misunderstood flowering plant.
Most plants require a special soil mix to be suitable for kokedama, but orchids are an exception. Orchids are epiphytes, meaning they don’t actually grow in soil. In the wild, orchids can typically be found clinging to tree branches.
Orchids can be grown in a store-bought orchid mix designed to replicate their natural growing medium, but are more commonly grown in sphagnum moss, the same material used to form the outside of the kokedama ball.
Tools and materials required for this project:
- An orchid
- Ball of twine
- Sphagnum moss
How to make an orchid kokedama
1. Soak the moss
Take a large handful of dry sphagnum moss and place it in a bucket, then add water until the moss is covered. Leave it to soak for about 10 minutes.
2. Prepare the plant
Take the orchid out of the pot and gently untangle the roots. Most orchids come from the nursery growing in sphagnum moss. Loosen the existing moss by breaking it up with your hands. Pull off any moss that’s old or decayed, but don’t remove much more than 50 per cent of the existing moss. Carefully snip off any rotten or dead roots with a clean pair of secateurs.
3. Bundle the rootball
Cut three or four strands of twine about twice as wide as the colander, then lay them inside the colander. Line the colander with a layer of moss about two centimetres thick, then place the root ball in the centre of the colander. Tie the ends of the twine strands together to loosely hold the moss in position.
4. Wrap with twine
Hold the moss ball upright in your right hand and the end of ball of twine in your left hand. Position the end of the twine against the moss ball, pointing downwards. Hold it against the ball with your right thumb, then start wrapping the twine around the ball, moving each layer of twine about two centimetres to the left. Slowly rotate the ball and reposition your right hand as you do so. Continue until the moss is secure.
This technique may take practice to get right. Alternatively, you could wrap the ball in a random pattern until all the moss is held in securely.
5. Tie off the twine
Once the moss is held in securely, cut the end of the twine. Tuck it under a few layers of twine and tie it off in a knot. You can create a small loop at this stage to make it easier to hang the ball, or if you plan on displaying it in a small dish, you can leave the outside clean.
To hang the kokedama, cut a length of twine and tie it to the loop, then tie the other end to an S-hook. You can then hang the S-hook from any convenient point in your home or garden.
Care and maintenance
You’ll know when your kokedama needs watering when the ball starts to feel a bit lighter, and the moss becomes crunchy instead of soft.
The easiest way to water your kokedama is to place it in a bucket of water or a basin and let it soak for at least 30 seconds. Once the moss has absorbed plenty of water, squeeze out any excess and hang it up again. You can also water your kokedama by running it under a tap.
Overwatering is one of the main killers of orchids, so you’ll probably only need to water it about once every week, depending on your local conditions. Don’t leave your orchid kokedama sitting in water.
Position your orchid somewhere that won’t receive direct sunlight all day. It’s also best to ensure good airflow around the plant to minimise the risk of mould or fungal growth.
Orchids generally need to be repotted every one to two years, but kokedama will need to be rewrapped on a case-by-case basis. Your orchid may begin to grow roots on the outside of the ball, which is how it would naturally grow, using roots to cling onto tree bark or branches.
As a general rule, if the plant is pushing out new growth, flowering, and looks healthy, it’s best to leave it as is.