How to Make Pottukadalai Baelle

DIY: let your plants float! This is how you do Kokedamas

Make your beautiful Japanese-style floating garden very easy. We'll show you how!

Shaunna Nygren 12. January 2015
Houzz contributor. I am the editor in chief of Pacific Weddings magazine based in Hawaii. I enjoy exotic travel, yoga, strong coffee and Neil Young on vinyl. Inspiration: Americana revisited, printed matter, design blogs, road trips, the beach, the sea, my friends
Kokedama is a Japanese type of plant design. When I first saw such a hanging work of art - floating in front of a white wall - I was overwhelmed by its beauty. At that time I would never have thought how easy it would be to make these elaborate planets from moss (“Kokedama” is Japanese and means “moss ball”).

For this purpose, green plants (for example succulents, dwarf ferns or similar plants that remain small) are “potted” into a ball of earth that is held together by moss and string. These moss balls are then hung in the room on decorative ribbons or cords, so that a floating garden is created that not only looks beautiful, but is also a great way to bring a piece of nature into your home. The florist Mandy Grace from Hawaii explains step by step how you can easily create your own Kokedama garden yourself.
You need:
  • plants that remain small (e.g. succulents or dwarf fern)
  • Peat soil, cactus soil, loam soil
  • dry peat moss
  • a scissors
  • Cord (made of 100 percent cotton)
  • colorful parcel cord (preferably hemp cord)
  • Work gloves (it gets dirty!)
  • a glass of water
  • a bowl (optional)
First, take the plant out of its pot and expose the roots by carefully but thoroughly removing as much soil as possible.
Now mix the types of earth mentioned at the beginning in a bowl and gradually add a little water until the whole thing gets a dough-like consistency. Shape it into a ball (if the ball falls apart, add more water).
The ball shouldn't get too big, but it should be big enough so that the roots have enough space.
Take a clump of dry moss and carefully wrap it around the roots of the plant, making a compact ball.
Then wrap the whole thing with the cotton cord so that it does not fall apart.
Now press a small hole in the ball of soil, carefully insert the plant and then plug the hole thoroughly with soil so that the whole thing is nice and round again.

Now comes the fun part: gradually take individual pieces of moss and press them firmly onto the ball until it is completely covered.
Now wrap the ball thoroughly with the parcel string - as if you were wrapping a present. You are free to choose the color of the cord: from natural colors to white to colored - whatever you like is allowed. Make sure the ends stay long enough so that you can hang the plant ball on them.

Hang your little moss planets on the wall using hooks - ideally in a bright place with indirect light and at a little distance from the wall surface to avoid soiling.

Alternatively, you can arrange the balls on small plates and use them as table decorations, for example.
Every plant has its own needs, there are no general rules for watering, fertilizer and sunlight. But you can't go wrong with these simple basic principles:

Water: You can tell relatively well whether your plant needs water by looking at its weight. If the ball feels heavy in your hand, the plant still has enough water. If it feels light, it is thirsty. For watering, it is best to fill a bowl with enough water to cover the plant ball. Let it sit in the bowl for a minute or two so it can soak up. Then take it out again and squeeze it slightly so that the water can flow into the center of the ball. That should be enough for several days.

Light, temperature and fresh air: Select the plants according to the location. Most indoor plants like high humidity and indirect light. Regular ventilation is also important so that the plants grow nicely.

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