Rock me, Kokedama

Kokedama flanked with hippeastrum and seasonal arrangements really cheers up the winter kitchen.

Most Rant readers are likely familiar with Japanese moss ball plants, or kokedama. I was not, however (or maybe I forgot about them), and when I saw a pre-Christmas email from a local plant store offering kokedama of various sizes for sale, with images, I was there the next day. “I’m here for the kokedama,” I announced, and promptly bought 6 large ones for holiday gifts. As it happens, one of my friends had similar ideas, so now I have a modestly sized kokedama as part of my kitchen plant array.

Here’s a larger one that became a holiday gift.

If you google, you’ll find all kinds of sites devoted to the DIY creation of these things. No thank you! I’ll stick to my store-bought kokedama and put my energies into keeping it alive, which doesn’t seem hard if it stays in a shallow dish and soaks up water at need. (And it’s pretty easy to tell when it’s time to add water.) I will not, as many seem to do, hang the plant from the ceiling. That’s just going to make watering a pain—also, I notice that the moss tends to shed. Ferns are often recommended for kokedama culture, but the ones I bought are mainly sturdy house plants of office-surviving varieties. Ferns are fussy in houses where central heating reigns during the winter.

A new year, a new—to me—winter garden addition. Cheers to kokedama!

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. Just want to say that depending on the plant, the “base” of the kokedama needs to be differerent, for example orchid vs. fern vs. something you can’t kill with a stick. So I am about to make my own orchid and fern kokedamas (should that be kokedami?), having run across this method of planting about a month ago.

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