What is a Kokedama?
A kokedama is basically a plant suspended in a string-wrapped ball of soil. The term ‘kokedama’ is Japanese and literally means ‘moss ball’ (koke = moss, dama = ball).
So why kokedamas??
Actually, I had never heard of these fabulous balls of coolness until Mr Hammer’s sister and her husband gifted us one just last weekend (as we were finishing off our easy bathroom upgrade!).
I had entertained the idea of having plantlife in the bathroom for a while, but there is not a lot of floorspace where a pot wouldn’t get in the way, or get knocked over (because – kids).
Plus, the vanity bench isn’t big enough to have loads of greenery scattered over it and still able to be used for everyday stuff.
I didn’t really want one of those big coconut-husk hanging plants. They’re cumbersome for such a small space and I just couldn’t get a pretty mental image.
So when we received this kokedama, I knew immediately how I was going to solve the ‘greenery in the bathroom’ conundrum!
This is a two part series – this first part is how to make the kokedama, and the second part will be how we chose to hang them (in the bathroom and kitchen).
What you’ll need:
- A bag of Bonsai potting mix
- A cube of Sphagnum Moss
- A roll of Sisal Twine (or Jute string – try and get something synthetic so it doesn’t rot)
- Water and a bucket
- Plants that won’t grow too big too quickly.
We got everything we needed from Bunnings. The Bonsai Mix and Sphagnum, I had thought may have been necessary to go to a specialty nursery, but apparently they’re pretty common items.
So! We soaked the cube of Sphagnum moss in a bucket of water. This needs to soak for about an hour.
The Sphagnum Moss above is still in its cuboid form. Eventually it all breaks up to look and feel kinda like seaweed.
At first, with the help of Granny Hammer, we mixed the peat moss with the bonsai mixture and added drippings of water to get a firm ball of soil.
Yeah, didn’t quite work. So we just mixed the soil mixture with water to make a thick, grainy mud. Don’t worry, it’s easy to squeeze excess water out of your ball.
No, we didn’t do a great deal of research on which plants are best for kokedamas, except that they must be hardy to withstand both wet and dry conditions.
But y’know, let’s face it – plants have to be hardy to withstand the Hammer House, and Mrs Hammer’s black thumb.
Really, we just scouted around at Bunnings for a bunch of cheap plants that wouldn’t get too big too quickly. Emphasis on ‘cheap’. We probably could have found cheaper elsewhere, or used cuttings from somewhere, but we were at Bunnings already . . .
Back to the construction of our kokedamas!
After we had made our 13 balls, we gently de-soiled the roots of the plants.
Then we poked a finger in the ball and inserted the plant.
Well, it sounds easy, but actually, the balls kinda just fell apart (as you can see above).
So we had to rebuild the soil mix around the crumbling balls. At first, it was a bit of a two-man job, but eventually we got the hang of it.
For future reference, it’s probably easier to create a ball around the roots, rather than the other way around, sort of like a hamburger – one half bun, one root with plant hanging out the side, then top half of bun, squish together. It’s all very technical.
After we had our little balls-with-plants, we very gingerly (very gingerly) picked the balls up and began to drape the soaked sphagnum moss around the ball, while wrapping the sisal twine around it to secure the moss to the ball.
The tiny parlour palm below is our ‘Deserted Island’. ‘Coz it looks like a deserted island with its lone palm tree. Get it? Deserted island . . . Annnnyway, I created a little montage-graphic type thing for the rest of the process, because I’m awesome like that.
Again, at first the wrapping of the Sphagnum moss and twine was a two-man job, but by the end, myself and Granny Hammer had two balls on-the-go at once.
Actually, I kinda think we over-wrapped them. But whatevs. They look cool.
It was a wet and messy activity, but quite fun.
Can kids do it?
Probably not small children, without a hover-y kind of supervision, although they’d probably have fun playing with the mud, and may make a few small balls.
The string-and-moss application may be frustrating and too handsy and fingersy and tangly and fall-aparty for really little people.
But for sure they could be good helpers.
I think the balls really do need to be a decent size, though – my own adult hands could barely make a ball I deemed large enough to allow some growth of the root systems.
So what’s next?
Next, we attach some hanging strings, create a space to actually hang them from, then put it all up!
Here’s hoping it looks as good in real life as it does in my head.