Looking for a new way to show off your plants this spring? Consider the Japanese plant art form called kokedama, which means "moss ball" in English. It's a cool, modern way to show off your plants, but it harkens back to the historical Nearai-style bonsai tradition.

In Nearai-bonsai, the plant's roots and soil are so tightly compacted and grown together that they take the form of the pot holding them. According to Nearai practice, when ready, the plant would be taken out of its pot and placed on a stand, so both the top and bottom of the plant can be enjoyed. The kokedama is an offshoot of this tradition. It speeds up the process by covering the roots and soil with moss. With this method, you don't have to wait for the roots to bind together, which is perfect for today's impatient world.

We teamed up with Smack Bang Designs to show you how to make a kokedama yourself.

What you'll need

Kokedama soil materials Kokedamas, despite not being in the ground or in a pot, are still plants, and they need everything that plants normally need. (Photo: Smack Bang Designs)

Basic materials

  • A plant of some kind. Maiden hair ferns and other shade-loving plants were used in this project. When deciding what plant you should use, figure out where you're going to hang the plant (sun/shade, indoor/outdoor) and then buy accordingly.
  • Slow-release fertilizer
  • Dry sphagnum moss and/or green moss
  • A 7-3 ratio of peat soil and potting mix
  • A bowl full of water
  • Twine
  • Cotton thread (it's up to you if you want to go natural or add a color)

Directions

1. Gently remove your plant from its pot. Then, without disturbing the roots, remove two-thirds of the soil.

A before and after image a plant's soil removed from around the roots. Be careful not to disturb the roots too much when you remove some of the soil. (Photo: Smack Bang Designs)

2. Wrap the roots with wet sphagnum moss, using a small cotton thread to hold it in place.

3. Mix together your peat soil, potting mix, half a teaspoon of fertilizer and water. This will be the new soil base for your plant. Make the soil into a ball shape by packing it together into a round ball the best you can.

4. Here comes the tricky part. You can either ask a friend for help or go at it solo and use the video above as a reference, skipping ahead to the 5:30 mark. Start adding moss to the soil. As you pack it in, you wrap the ball with the cotton string. Keep adding the moss and string to the roots until you perfect your round shape.

Wrapping string around a kokedama Getting the moss ball just right is the trickiest part of building a kokedama. (Photo: Smack Bang Designs)

5. Once you achieve your ball shape, wrap the tougher twine around it to make the moss ball sturdy.

Wrapping twine around a kokedama Twine will help keep the kokedama's shape in place. (Photo: Smack Bang Designs)

6. Hang and enjoy the simplistic beauty of your kokedama!

Kokedamas hanging from ceiling Kokedamas make for an especially different kind of hanging plant. (Photo: Smack Bang Designs)

Caring for your kokedama

It's not too difficult. Either give the kokedma a daily spray of water, or untie it from its hanging device and soak it in a bowl of water every week or so.

And here are some more kokedma examples to get your imagination into gear:

Kokedamas sit on a window sill Kokedamas needn't hang from the ceiling. Place them along a window will so they get enough light and enhance your view. (Photo: Gergely Hideg/flickr)

Various kokedamas hanging and sitting next to a high back lounge chair Kokedamas can offer a touch of whimsy to any location. (Photo: Gergely Hideg/flickr)

Kokedama hanging in an apartment A kokedama will go with just about any style. (Photo: Gergely Hideg/flickr)

A variety of kokedamas on a table and window sills Just don't like the kokedamas take over your house! (Photo: Gergely Hideg/flickr)