Years ago, I saw instructions on how to make kokedama, plants with their roots wrapped in moss, and I’ve been meaning to try it ever since. Over the years I saw the project pop up again and again, but the instructions always seemed a bit intimidating. So when I saw that a free class on how to make kokedama was happening in Portland, I jumped on the opportunity. And it turned out to be way easier then I expected! Here is what I learned about making your own kokedama.
One thing that intimidated me about making kokedama is that I thought you needed special soil. I asked the person teaching the class, Carly, about this, and they said that they’ve made them with special kokedama soil, and with normal potting soil, and either works. But the kokedama soil is more expensive and difficult to get, so sticking with potting soil is perfectly fine.
If you’re wondering how I managed to get a free lesson in making kokedama, the answer is Portland Free School. People teach other people how to do things, for free! This is the first class I’ve attended, but I definitely want to go to more when they have them. Other cities have their own free schools, too, so try searching google/instagram/meet-up for versions in your own area.
Don’t worry if you can’t get to your own kokedama class, because here are non-intimidating (I hope!) instructions for how to make your own kokedama
How to Make Kokedama
A potted plant
Sheet moss, spritzed or soaked in water
Lightweight remay – You could also use muslin, cheesecloth, or burlap.
1. Grab your potted plant, and cut a piece of remay big enough to wrap around the plant’s pot. It’s better to cut it too big than too small, and it’s fine just to cut a rough rectangle. Remay is garden fabric which allows light and air to pass through, but you could also substitute burlap, muslin, or cheesecloth. You just need something to help hold the roots together while you wrap them in moss. It needs to be water-permeable, so no synthetic fabrics or plastic.
2. Working on top of the remay or other fabric, take the plant out of its pot.
3. Cut a piece of fishing line about 8-12 inches long. Gather up the fabric around the plant, and wrap the fishing line around the top of the soil/bottom of the plant at least twice. Wrap pretty tightly, then knot off the fishing line. Now trim the fishing line, and the top of the remay. Don’t trim too close to the string, or the fabric might pull loose. You can always trim more later.
If your plant roots aren’t ball-shaped at this point, try to start gently shaping them into a ball with your hands.
4. Your moss will stick together much better if it’s wet, so make sure you’ve either spritzed it with water, or just soaked it for a few minutes. If it’s soaking, squeeze out the excess water. Lay out a solid layer of wet moss, and start to wrap it around your plant’s encased roots.
5. Take the end of the fishing line, and wrap it around the moss ball. Tie it tightly, leaving a tail of several inches.
6. Now start wrapping the fishing line around the moss ball, changing directed with each wrap. Be sure to keep the tail of the fishing line free. Add or remove moss as necessary. Keep wrapping until your kokedama seems secure. Then tie off the fishing line to the tail end. If you want to hang your moss ball, leave a long tail for hanging. Otherwise, trim both ends of the fishing line and tuck away. If any of the remay shows, trim that, too. If you have too much fishing line showing, tuck small bits of moss on top of it.
All done! To care for your kokedama, soak the root ball in water for about 20 minutes. Water it as often as you would water the same plant if it were in a terracotta pot. I know that’s vague, but different plants have very different watering requirements. You wouldn’t want to water a cactus or succulent as often as you would water a maidenhair fern.
Have you ever made a kokedama? If not, do you think you’ll give it a try? It’s super easy, I promise!