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15 Feb 2021

Make a kokedama

A man holds up a plant, wrapped in a mossy ball at the base, and suspended by a string handle. He stands behind a large table with plant arrangement items laid out in front of him.
Chris from our Gardens team shows you how to make a beautiful plant decoration to brighten up your home.
How to make a kokedama


Hello everybody! It’s Chris here again, from the north-east of Scotland. Gardens Manager for Aberdeenshire and Angus. And, on behalf of the National Trust for Scotland, here’s a little activity that you can do. Lockdown Activities, part II!

And what I’m going to show you today is, on behalf of the gardens department, is something called kokedama. And kokedama is a Japanese activity, form of art basically, involving house plants. And the word kokedama actually means ‘no pot’ or ‘moss ball’; sometimes it’s translated as ‘air plant’ as well.
What it is, it’s a way of displaying house plants, plants within your house, using very, very minimal equipment and so on. And it’s just a way of displaying them in a pretty fashion.

What you need is some house plants, and these days house plants are so, so cheap. This is a kalanchoe, this plant here, I got here from one of those cheap budget supermarkets; £1.50 – absolutely no price at all. Here’s an asparagus fern – this cost me £2.50. And in fact what I have here is some snowdrops – I actually dug these out of my own garden at the end of last year. I put them into a pot just here. They’ve actually been outside until just around about Christmas time. I watered them, brought them inside and I’ve actually put them close on a very warm windowsill near a radiator, and I’ve forced them on. So these have come into growth literally in the last week or so, since I brought them in. So there are some snowdrops just there.

Other things you may need are a pair of scissors, some hessian sack if you have it – you don’t need to use hessian sack because the main ingredient for this is moss. And here I have a bucket of moss. Now I can suggest the best thing to do for moss is if you can get hold of it from a sustainable source. You can buy it online from one of these sort of online websites that you buy anything and everything – I think you know the ones I am talking about.

If you have some moss in your own garden, use moss from your own garden – my garden is actually very very mossy! So I could have actually got some from my garden but I live in the countryside and live very close to a woodland and so I went into the woodland and just took just enough that I actually need. I actually got it off some old stumps.

Now you’ve got to be very careful if you do anything like this – I wouldn’t actually recommend it. I know that there’s a huge volume of moss where I got this from, and what I don’t use I’m going to go and put back in the woods anyway, because we don’t need a lot.
But the best thing to do is to actually buy it online basically.

So that’s what you need. You need a plant, you need some hessian or some moss, and some string and a pair of scissors. And above all, if you’re going to make a mess inside with you and your family, put some newspaper down or a sheet or something like this. And I’ll just take you through now just some of how we will actually go about constructing the kokedama.

Ok! This is the really, really simple bit. You take your plant, like this, scissors, string and a bit of moss. Tip out the plant like this. And what we want to do – this is a little bit dry – we just start off by compressing the soil into a ball shape like this. Make sure you have some newspaper or an old cloth down like I’ve got here. And once you’ve compressed it into a ball, if the soil is actually very very small, what you might need is a little bit of compost or a bit of additional soil, just to make the ball absolutely slightly a little bit bigger.

Then what we do is we take some of our moss. You need to make sure it is a little bit damp. That’s not a great bit … let’s find this, a little bit better. That’s a slightly better bit here. Two pieces like so. And then we’re going to … oh, that’s not a very good bit – it’s slightly split. Must have a better bit in here. Here we go – ah, that’s a good bit. Make it into like a flat pancake shape. And then we’re going to wrap it around the ball, like so, and squeeze it in tight.

Make sure it’s good and tight, see here there’s a few twigs, I’ll just take those out. Once we’ve done that, we just want to wrap it up with some string. Very, very simple. I’ll move this moss off to one side.
Take our string. We want to tie a knot, tie it round and then we’re going to wrap it round and round and round until it’s a tight compressed ball all the way round like this. And what I’m going to do is – I’m going to speed this up for you. Some of you may have already noticed that I did it with this, so I’ll cut into the kalanchoe and I’ll show you what it looked like. And also, I’m going to re-string this one as well.
If I wanted to do it a different way without using moss and I had some hessian, what I would do is I would actually just cut the hessian to roughly the right size, pull it round, wrap the string round tight and then we just create the moss ball. It’s as simple as that! So, I’ll cut away from this and then I’ll come back to you in just a second.

There you have it! That is a kokedama or an air pot. Very, very simple, very effective, quite pretty. This little kalanchoe here really looking lovely, and I’ll probably go and hang that in my bathroom or in the kitchen or somewhere not directly near next to a radiator. And that’s what it looks like.
And that’s just one version of it.

And – oops, got it stuck in the pot – there we go. We’ve got my moss ball. I wrapped the string round really, really tight. You don’t need anything fancy. If you get the right type of string it will lock on itself, especially with natural materials. And I just poked the ends in, just like that. And then what I would need to do at that point is I just need to make a little loop, which is what I’ve done here underneath this kalanchoe. I’ve managed to make a little handle for the loop just like that, so it can hang.
If I don’t want it to hang, all I’ve to do is just leave it like that and then I can make sure that I have a cup, or a glass or a pot that it can sit in. It can just sit, quite a pretty little thing like it is.

And this is how we water them as well. We should really try and mist them with a bit of mist spray. Or you can run them under the tap. Or what I’ve done here is I’ve actually got a bowl, a little bit of water just in a jug. I’ll put about an inch or so of water, and when I want to water it, which will be every few days, 3–4 days, I just sit it in the water. Leave it there for an hour or so. And it will suck the water up into it, and it waters itself.

I can sit this either in a cup, something like that, again nowhere near direct heat, but a kitchen windowsill, bathroom windowsill, even a bedroom windowsill … something like that. Something really, really pretty.
So what I’m going to do now, because I’m going to continue for my own house, I’m going to use a bit of jute and I’m going to do the asparagus fern, which is going to go in my bathroom. And this will probably sit in the kitchen, and I’ve got a nail in my kitchen that I can hang this from. And this little snowdrop here will stay in the front room and I’ll probably just have it sat in a cup somewhere until they go over, and it should last quite a while.

So, there’s a little bit of craft that you can do at home. And so, on behalf of the National Trust for Scotland, have a go, enjoy yourself and have a nice weekend.

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