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Kokedama – the Japanese art of planting plants

Kokedama – the Japanese art of planting plants

Kokedama is a form of bonsai that requires much less work to create and maintain than a classic tree. This innovative and original art of creating miniature hanging gardens originated in the 1990s in Japan. Probably its precursor was Isao Umiji.

First, the plants grew in a ceramic pot filled with a small amount of soil so that their root system became dense, compacted and took the shape of a container. Then the plant was pulled out of the pot and placed on a flat surface – the root system was now becoming such a natural pot. In the 1990s, it was invented to additionally decorate the root systems of such prepared plants with moss. The Kokedams created in this way have gained new exposure opportunities, because they can not only be placed on stands or other types of surfaces, but also hung.


The technique gained popularity in Europe in the 21st century, thanks to the botanist Fedor Van der Valk. The complete liberation of the plants from the pots was an innovative idea, especially hanging them in the space on strings.

The shape of a ball in the shape of a cocedama is intended to interpret the whole as the planet Earth.

Japanese art is based on emphasizing the essence of plants. It consists of a plant growing from a combination of peat, fine roasted clay, dried green moss and a durable twine.


Many species are suitable for this type of hanging garden, while those made of plants whose roots grow rapidly will be less durable. The roots will begin to slide outside the ball shape and deform it.  It is also worth remembering that some plants have very delicate root systems and it is not possible to plant them in a pot in order to obtain a compact root system in the shape of a vessel. In this case, instead of risking failure when transplanting, it is better to sow the plant in a moss ball right away and wait for it to sprout.

Recommended plants:

  • fern
  • asparagus
  • succulents
  • ivy
  • phytonium
  • wing flowers
  • the herbivores

If you plan to hang moss balls in your apartment, remember that some water may drip from them after watering them, so choose a place where they will not interfere. What may be inconvenient in an apartment is perfect on the balcony or in the garden, for example under the treetops or under the roof edge of a gazebo. The space decorated with them will take on a visually attractive character.

In rooms, it is best to place them near sources of natural light. Due to the airy structure, it should be remembered that the roots are prone to drying out, so they should not be placed near south or south-west windows or directly above the radiators. In this case, the base species should be highly tolerant and dry-resistant (succulents and nolines).

The durability of a kokedama depends not only on the plant, but also on its location and care. A special substrate and moss keep the substrate moist. Ferns and moisture-loving species should be sprinkled daily and once a week the ball should be immersed in a container with soft water until it stops “emitting bubbles”. Then gently squeeze out excess water and place the ball on a saucer with stones to drain.

Most species, after 2 years of growth, require replacement of the substrate and enlargement of the sphere due to growth. Dry-loving succulents keep their shape much longer, 4-5 years.

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