Craft

10 Inspiring Examples of Kokedama: Discover the Art of Making Moss Balls

Discover how to connect with nature at home thanks to this Japanese technique for growing designer plants, sans pot

Many of us have been led to believe that you need a pot to grow a plant indoors. Enter the art of kokedama, which consists of growing a plant from a ball of soil covered in moss, i.e. sans pot.

This technique was created 500 years ago by Japanese artists who wanted to stay connected to the forest even though they could no longer live near it. Below, we share contemporary ways to brighten up your surroundings and connect with nature using the art of kokedama.

This Kokedama was created by Omotesandō Plants studio.
This Kokedama was created by Omotesandō Plants studio.

Why moss and not pots?

According to Joan Català (@omotesandoplants), founder of Omotesandō Plants studio, which specializes in kokedamas and terrariums, kokedama is a way to grow a plant, or several plants together, without a pot.

The key idea is that the designs are 100% natural, in other words, they mimic the real environments in which the plants would naturally grow. The art of kokedama ensures that no human-made element comes between the person and this piece of nature.

This Kokedama was created by Omotesandō Plants studio.
This Kokedama was created by Omotesandō Plants studio.

The appearance of moss indicates a certain level of oxygen and humidity, which is optimal for fertility. For many Japanese plant lovers, covering their plants with moss makes them look like small pieces of forest. Plus, in Japanese culture, moss is used as a metaphor for the passage of time, longevity, something that stays in one place and becomes one with its surroundings.

Modern-day kokedama artists often take these sentiments and reinterpret them, giving their designs a modern twist, and thus encouraging more people to connect with this art.

Joan Català is an expert in the art of kokedama.
Joan Català is an expert in the art of kokedama.

Here are 10 examples of how to connect with nature at home thanks to this Japanese technique.

1. Tillandsia, the kokedama protagonist

Tillandsia is a species of air plant that grows wild in America, usually in deserts, forests, and on mountains. Sometimes, it can even be found in cities, randomly hanging from trees.

As Tillandsia naturally grow in limited spaces, they have almost no roots and usually hang from something else. Therefore, plant enthusiasts often choose this species to be the protagonist of their kokedama projects. It is also a great starter plant for those who don’t have much experience with gardening. Given how independent it is, it has become the ideal plant for those who do not have a lot of time to take care of their garden.

A Tillandsia kokedama designed by Omotesandō Plants.
A Tillandsia kokedama designed by Omotesandō Plants.
Tillandsia are naturally found suspended in the air, hanging off something else.
Tillandsia are naturally found suspended in the air, hanging off something else.

2. The miniature world of kokedama

As kokedama was born in Japan as a way to connect with nature in small spaces, people often make miniature versions. These small designs are ideal for placing on desks or bedside tables, or in corners in need of a touch of green joy.

This very mini kokedama was designed by Astrid Wilk Studio.
This very mini kokedama was designed by Astrid Wilk Studio.

3. Kokedama inside terrariums

Botanical designers and terrarium specialists create small universes inside glass jars and fish tanks. Some include kokedamas in these complex yet tiny biosystems.

Kokedamas inside terrariums, by Foret Deverre.
Kokedamas inside terrariums, by Foret Deverre.
Mini kokedamas inside terrariums, by Terrariums by Ella.
Mini kokedamas inside terrariums, by Terrariums by Ella.

4. Kokedamas that hang from unusual stands

The versatility of kokedamas is what makes them so valuable. Thanks to how light they are, it is easy to get creative when it comes to choosing where to put them or what to hang them from.

By hanging kokedamas from stands that are unique and different, you add an element of fantasy to your surroundings and make a piece of art that will fascinate visitors.

A kokedama hanging from a stand designed by El Mundo de Musgo.
A kokedama hanging from a stand designed by El Mundo de Musgo.
A kokedama hanging from a stand designed by Art.Viva.
A kokedama hanging from a stand designed by Art.Viva.

5. Kokedamas don't just grow upwards

If you’re fascinated by strange plants that hang, climb, reach, and wrap themselves around things, you’ll be interested to know that kokedamas can grow in all directions, even downwards.

By combining plants that naturally reach up towards the sky with others that fall down to the ground and others that are held in place by stands, we can create a 360-degree work of art.

This kokedama by Atelir_te grows in different directions, combining Tillandsia and a Davallia with more conventional plants.
This kokedama by Atelir_te grows in different directions, combining Tillandsia and a Davallia with more conventional plants.
This Kokedama by Atelir_te grows in different directions.
This Kokedama by Atelir_te grows in different directions.

6. Create floating gardens with kokedama

Floating gardens are one of the latest trends in the decorating world, mainly thanks to the kokedama technique. At a time in which we feel a strong desire to connect with nature, bars, hotels, and coworking spaces are embracing this resource.

Kokedamas suspended in the air by Capsule_Gardens.
Kokedamas suspended in the air by Capsule_Gardens.
Kokedamas suspended in the air by The Plant Fairies.
Kokedamas suspended in the air by The Plant Fairies.

7. Kokedamas that devour their soil balls

Many plants end up enveloping their soil balls until they disappear, spilling out and wrapping their leaves around them until they are no longer visible. Those experienced in the art of kokedama know how to plant certain species so that they grow in a way that makes the soil ball disappear from view, hidden within the leaves.

Invisible kokedama by Atelir_te.
Invisible kokedama by Atelir_te.

8. Kokedama paintings

Particularly strong plants such as Lipismium can be used to create kokedama paintings, which have become a Nordic trend. They are used to decorate both indoor and outdoor spaces without ever seeming out of place.

Kokedama painting by Laplanteria_en.
Kokedama painting by Laplanteria_en.

9. Moss-free kokedamas

Although kokedama balls were originally covered in moss, it is not always easy to get hold of moss, let alone maintain it. So, often Western and modern kokedamas don’t use moss. Instead, as Joan explains, the gardener will use other materials, such as wool or rope, which add a rustic touch.

You also have the option of using Sphagnum moss: this is a dehydrated moss that you’ll be able to find in garden centers and is completely natural although, of course, it is not green like moss.

Kokedama covered in wool by Kokelover.pmw
Kokedama covered in wool by Kokelover.pmw

10. Kokedamas: fantastical works of art

Suspending kokedamas in the air can add a touch of fantasy to your surroundings, especially when you combine different geometric stands and play with light and dimensions.

This Kokedama appears to be suspended in mid-air. By Kokedama_rio.
This Kokedama appears to be suspended in mid-air. By Kokedama_rio.

Want to learn more about the fascinating world of kokedama? Sign up for the Domestika course Kokedamas: Create Natural Moss Pots and discover techniques for creating wonderful pieces of botanical design.

You may also be like:

- 5 Amazing Terrarium Designers You Should Know
- Botanical Design Tutorial: How to Design Frames with Succulents
- Tips for Creating a Botanical Nook in Your Home
- Online Floral and Plant Design courses

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