diy project: “kokedama” string garden

The days are getting longer, and the sun is shining more; I can’t think of a better time to get my hands into soil and play around with some fun plant experiments for spring! I’ve seen kokedama — Japanese moss balls — looking great hanging in homes, but I never realized how easy they are to create. Netherlands-based designer and all-around super-creative Aura Scaringi made this simple tutorial for crafting your own hanging kokedama garden using a combination of peat soil and akedama, or bonsai soil. Like all of Aura’s work, the results are lovely — I can’t wait to try it out for myself. Thanks for sharing, Aura! — Kate

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


  • a tiny plant; moss can’t stand direct sunlight, so choose a shadow-loving plant. I have used baby ferns, grass and another lovely plant with violet flowers, the name of which I can’t recall.
  • a 7:3 ratio of peat soil and akedama, or bonsai soil
  • dry sphagnum moss (you can buy a whole bag at most plant shops)
  • scissors
  • cotton thread
  • nice packing string like twine, hemp or sisal. Mine is from the wonderful London household shop Labour and Wait.
  • gloves. Yes, it WILL get messy.
  • a jar of water
  • moss, which you can either buy in a large box or pick yourself in the woods


1. Remove as much soil as possible from your tiny plant so that its roots are exposed. Be very thorough but gentle!

2. Mix your peat and akedama soil together. You know the consistency is right when you are able to make a small ball from the earth without it breaking apart.

3. Now that your soil is mixed, start shaping it into a small, orange-sized ball. Use a little bit of water if needed. Think clay or pizza dough.

4. Make sure each ball has enough room to accommodate the roots of your plant.

5. Take a bunch of dry sphagnum moss and wrap it carefully around the roots, making a circular and compact shape. Then tie the cotton string around it several times. This will eventually dissolve.

6. Make a small hole in your soil ball, and gently press the plant inside it. Be careful to “close” the shape back to a sphere


7. Now it’s time for the fun part: take small sheets of moss (any kind of moss) and press them firmly into the soil. Don’t leave any open spaces. Wrap the twine string around the ball as if you are packing a present, and leave the sides as long as needed.

8. Choose a nice, shady place, install a hook and hang your wonderful planet of moss.


{Editor’s Note:  To maintain, water the kokedama with a mist spray bottle once a day. Try to do this early in the morning, to mimic the ‘dew’ effect. }

  1. Willowbee says:

    I love the look of your site – it’s beautiful and your tutorial is fantastic!
    I just would like to point out that in the UK it is a crime to uproot protected wild plants and to take any plant without the permission of the landowner. So, unless you are collecting the moss from your own land it is better (certainly more environmentally responsible) to buy a bag of moss from your local garden centre. :-)

    1. aura says:

      Thank you so much for your lovely compliment, Willowbee, and also for pointing that out! I was not aware of that and found a very clear website from The Wild Flower Society (wonderful name) which has a very clear code of conduct. It’s very useful for those with a private herbarium. I will be posting a couple of new tutorials soon!

      1. Holly says:

        I love your site as well, and thank you for providing do much useful information and inspiring ideas, it’s a very generous gift of your time and truly appreciated. That being said, the UK is a very tiny nation in the enormous and far-reaching WWW, by which your ideas are accessible to virtually everyone looking for creative new ways to be even closer to nature and the beauty and fulfillment of actually completing a project such as you’ve posted, and I personally find it far less rewarding to go to (ASDA, I’m assuming in some case) the store and purchase items that are accessible LEGALLY in nature, in EVERY country if done respectfully, considerably, and informed, without any concern of pesticides, fair-trade practices, carbon and other footprints, etc., etc., not to mention the enjoyment of being in nature, appreciating what we are surrounded and blessed with, and letting the journey be such a rewarding part of the experience and project. Otherwise, why not just go to Etsy, or better yet, ASDA, and let put aside all worries of whether or not the moss was poached illegally from Stonehenge… as in all likelihood it will be from a country FAR away, as to leave a nice giant footprint on one of the most eco-friendly, unique, brilliant, impressive and NATURAL “planters” I’ve ever seen.

        Truly, thank you for sharing, I LIVE this idea and it’s appeal lies greatly in it’s NATURAL beauty and simplicity. I’m quite sure anyone drawn to such a hands-on project is intelligent enough not to pillage and plunder the moss or materials from Buckingham Palace, though I’d truly hate to see you prosecuted for not including the legal disclaimer. ! :P

        Blessed Be :)

  2. Ellen says:

    The third “unknown” plant looks to be vinca to me

  3. Sam says:

    It’s Creeping Myrtle, and this is just lovely. :)

  4. E says:

    How do you water these plants?

    1. G says:

      From what I’ve read, you mist them every morning.

  5. Danielle says:

    I have a hanging one.. I submerge the ball in water for 10 minutes once a week. I could never keep up with everyday… BeforeI water all my other plants I plop it in and by the time I’m done its ready. FYI.. If you have a crazy cat, do not try to make a lovely display in a cute glass jar on your coffee table! Hang them out of reach :)

    1. Liz says:

      Doesn’t water drip from the ball onto the floor after submerging it in water? I’d like to hang some of these in my Gathering Room inside, but don’t want water on the floor. Suggestions. Thanks:)

      1. Grace Bonney says:


        To water: soak them and then let them drop dry in the sink or tub until they’re dry enough to hang. Water won’t drip once it’s fully absorbed. Just think of them like a plate you’ve washed and put on the rack to dry for a bit :)


  6. Tina says:

    Hi, is there anything I could substitute the for sheet moss on the outside?, would sphagnum moss do the trick?

  7. Joni Solis says:

    Doesn’t the twine rot over time and drop the plant onto the floor? Or can you use polyester string?

    1. Patriz says:

      Aluminium wire or nylon wire is usually used because the string, yes, will rot and drop the plant.

  8. Nelly says:

    gorgeous !!!!!😍😍😍😍

  9. K Miller says:

    I’m having a difficult time finding the bonsai soil at any of our local shops. Would a cactus soil work? Or must it be the akadama/bonsai? Thank you!!

  10. Diane says:

    Love this idea Thankyou from sunny qld Australia

    1. Liam says:

      Hi Diane, I am building a little kokedama workspace in Windsor, Brisbane, if you’d like a free tour before it opens :)

  11. Sushi says:

    Does this technique work well with pitcher plants?

  12. Lili says:

    These hanging plant balls are absolutely wonderful I saw these used as decorations at an outdoor wedding recently and they were used to great effect and looked amazing on the wedding photographs.

  13. Asmaa says:

    Can I use any type of moss, or does it have to sphagnum moss?

  14. Would you mind if I shared your post? This is fascinating.

  15. Sue says:

    Just a note that spagnum moss should not be purchased. It comes from ancient beds that keep the earth breathing. Can something else be substituted?

  16. I made this for a client in his garden. I used colored sting and we hanged some purple petunias from a cherry tree. It turned out to be a great combination. Experiment with different colored strings and colors. It is really a great decoration for outdoor celebrations.

  17. Shishir says:

    Great Article and Idea. Easy to follow steps to have a string garden. Love it !

  18. Sue says:

    To experiment with colors, would you suggest playing with the cotton thread or the hanging string/wire? I assume that the cotton thread is not visible under the moss.

  19. Sue says:

    I cannot mist them every morning and will instead need to dunk them each week. If you take them down each week, do you untie and re-tie the wire each time or have some sort of clasp mechanism?

  20. Kallie says:

    I wrapped & hung mine with fishing line. I don’t mist them daily and I don’t feel like they’d get enough water that way. I have a basket from an old deep fryer I cleaner and after I soak each plant once a week, I put it in the fryer basket that conveniently hooks on a square bucket and let it drain until it stops dripping then I hang it back up. I have 7 string plants, ferns, a succulent and a peace lily and they are all thriving (the succulent is alive but is very leggy. I have terrible luck with succulents!). I made mine with orchid & spaghnum moss, mixed with some potting soil and water until it holds together. I’m sure the bonsai soil would work better because I have to work a bit to mold the soil around my plant’s roots then I have to add the sheet moss but it works for me! Mine are hanging from fishing line so they look like they are floating!

  21. Aura says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for everyone who still reads this post and comments on it. How wonderful to read that after all this time this tutorial is still being used as a guideline all over the world. I cannot take credits for the Kokedama as it is a wonderful Japanese tradition but still… every time I see a ‘messy’ wrapped Kokedama I cannot help but wonder if the maker has somehow seen my tutorial. So grateful to Kate for having posted it. xx, Aura


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