How to do Japanese kokedama gardens?Back to Articles Page

How to do Japanese kokedama gardens?

Words & Photos: Diane Turner

Our editor sometimes likes to set me a challenge to learn a new gardening technique. I had to research how to make these gardens, a bit like you do when you are working on a topic at school. So, in this issue, I share my new-found knowledge with so that you, too, can make your own kokedama – Japaenese string garden. Once you have had a go, why not teach a couple of friends or your classmates all about this mini form of gardening?

You will needsome

  • small plants
  • potting mix string
  • sphagnum moss
  • clay garden soil
  • a bucket or bowl to mix the soils in

I used potting mix and had to add clay to turn my sandy garden soil into clay soil. Mixing the potting mix and soil with a bit of water and clay was a very messy, squishy job, but lots of fun. The special moss can be bought in packets wet or dry. You will need to soak it in water if you buy the dry variety.

Step 1.
Collect everything together and roll up your sleeves. If you are working on a nice table top remember to cover it before you start.

Step 2.
Gently remove the soil from the roots of your plants. Wrap the roots in just enough of the sphagnum moss to cover them up. You could tie a bit of string around the moss to hold it in place.

Step 3.
In your bowl, add three big handfuls of potting mix and three big handfuls of garden soil. If you don’t have clay soil, add a handful of clay. Mix everything together with your hands, breaking up any clay in the soil into small pieces. Add half a cup of water. You are going to try and make a ball with the mixture and it will need to stay together, so add more water until you can do this. Take the mixture and mould it into a ball around the plant’s roots.

Step 5.
Pick up the ball and start wrapping and crisscrossing the string around the ball until all the moss stays in place. Finish by tying a knot in the string to stop it unravelling.

Step 6.
You now need to decide how you are going to display your garden. You might want to suspend (hang) your plants from a branch. A single string attached to the side of the ball will make the plant ball go horizontal (sideways). A length of string attached at each side of the ball – creating a loop – will let your garden hang vertically (straight). You could also display them on a table. To water your gardens give them a spray of water every couple of days. If the ball dries out you can soak it in a bucket of water until the bubbles
stop appearing.