The art of Kokedama is a form of Bonsai and originated in Japan in the 1600’s. Originally the idea was to grow a plant in a pot until the roots were strong enough to display the plant in a hanging fashion, roots showing. The concept of creating a combination of suspended plants that together and each in itself creates its own little microcosm is fascinating and if you look up kokedama on pinterest the images show many inspiring varieties of hanging gardens.
The first time I came across these fabulous art form of Kokedama was through the ambient work of Fedor Van der Valk, an extremely talented Netherands based artist and designer. Seeing his moody collections of flawless kokedama took my breath away. From small ferns to actual citrus trees, Van der Valks work inspired me to try out my own kokedama collection. In this months write up I will talk you through the steps to achieve one of these cool easy maintenance garden spheres.
WHAT YOU NEED:
Your kokedama plant
there are lots of varieties you can choose for kokedama, from ferns to violets to herbs for the kitchen. Keep in mind that moss needs lots of moisture so the succulents I chose for mine are a little trickeier to keep happy.
A 7:3 ratio of peat soil and bonsai soil is what is reccomended for plants such as ferns etc but I used a good quality potting compost to try out my first ones and it works really well for the succulents which need less water.
I used moss which I collected from my own garden, only taking a bit here and there so it can regenerate. What I love about this is that it has little ferns, ivy, primroses etc growing in it which makes it look really unique.
Cotton thread/garden twine
I used a simple natural hemp twine but you can experiment with colour too. Shells little shop in Strandhill have some fantastic neon pink twine which is perfect for a more modern/urban version.
1. Using the soil mix and water form a clay ball to suit the size of your plant. It should be sticky and solid (I created quite large spheres as I put a combination of different succulent plants into each).
2. Remove the soil from the plant root and gently insert it into the soil ball. Softly squeeze the soil around the root to become the bed for the plant.
3. Place the ball into the bed of moss (which I watered well beforehand so it sticks well) and form the moss around the ball to become a sphere shape.
4. Now take your string and pack it tightly around the ball at all angles
creating a tight solid mass and making moss and soil one shape.The crossing patterns of string look really cool. Once the moss grows a bit the string next to dissapears and the moss ball evolves into its own unique form which is fascinating.
5. Choose a suitable spot and hang your kokedama artwork and enjoy.
Caring for your Kokedama
A normal Kokedama with a fern will need to be soaked once a week or so and the best way to do this is to immerse the plant completely in a bucket/bowl of water. You’ll know when your kokedama needs watering by the weight of the ball, and of course by looking at your plant.
For my succulent experimental kokedamas I wanted to see how the moss and succulents will do together. I have had them for three months now and they are doing brilliantly and only need watering every fortnight.