How to make a kokedama- Japanese moss ball garden

August 7, 2017

A kokedama (苔玉) is a way of Japanese gardening. It literally means moss ball; ‘koke’ means moss and ‘dama’ means ball. It is a style of bonsai that can be done with just about any plant. The original Japanese form of kokedama was miniature sculptures bonsai trees wrapped up in balls of moss and were placed on pieces of driftwood or displayed on handmade pottery.

Kokedama has been adapted from the traditional approach and now all sorts of plants are used in the design. They are now also displayed as little hanging gardens. Kokedama also looks good setting in a decorative bowl or have a whole line up of them setting on a nice tray. I love the approach taken to kokedama because it is all natural. They are just made with soil, moss, plants, and string to tie it all together. No plastic pots. They are easy to care for and they just look so interesting! 

You can use all sorts of plants for this project including succulents, ivy, ferns, herbs, annuals, perennials, and bulbs. The plant used just depend on where you want to display it. Some plants like higher light and some like low light.

What you need…

• plant

• soil

• sheet moss

• string


• Choose a plant and become familiar with its growing requirements. Some of my favorite plants are bird’s nest fern, staghorn fern, jade, string of pearls, ivy, & echeveria along with other succulents.

• Clean some of the soil of the roots of the plant, not all just some. I also like to then wrap the roots in some damp sphagnum moss as it help hold in moisture. 

• Moisten the soil enough so that it can be formed together. Regular potting soil or bonsai soil works well. Make a ball of soil that is big enough for the plant. 

• Break that ball of soil in half and form it around the roots of the plant. It may get kind of crumbly and messy but the moss and string will hold it all together.

• Set the ball on top of some pieces of sheet moss you have laid out. Begin wrapping with string and wrap it tight. Keep wrapping with string and add in pieces of moss as needed and tie it off once you feel it is secure enough. 

• Water it after you are finished and display it in your home or outside. Plants grown in this way will need a little more frequent waterings than others grown in pots. The best way to water is by dunking it in a sink or bucket of water or by letting it soak.

Try out different ways. You can even make kokedama with more than one plant per ball. You can make them huge or miniature. They are great for home decor. They also make amazing centerpieces for weddings and can be a unique thing for a flower girl to carry. Try all sorts of different plants and have fun with it!