SIMPLE: Kokedama string garden.

Hanging baskets are lovely to look at but easy to kill. We hang them in too hot a place, forget to water them or they get straggly because we don’t trim them. 

When they look truly horrible, the only option is to turf them out, which is money down the drain.

Trust the Japanese to come up with a better idea. They have invented the Kokedama, derived from a form of Japanese art garden.

Kokedama is a moss ball; literally “koke” meaning moss and “dama” meaning ball. It is made by taking the root ball of a plant and coating it with soft green moss that is secured by winding nylon wire around the bundle, then more moss is added and the ball is finally secured by winding string around it. The result, a living plant holder.

It is lighter than conventional hanging baskets, easier to water (just dump it in a bucket to soak up the water) and it is an eco-friendly alternative to plastic baskets and pots.

In its new form, Kokedama acts as an accent for a beautiful indoor plant, whether it is a specimen orchid, a beautifully patterned foliage plant like Calathea or a frilly-leaved bird’s nest fern. The look is earthy, natural and neutral, so that it is easy to display anywhere in the home, irrespective of the colour scheme or decor style.

In Japan, the hanging Kokedama are displayed in an alcove, or in the corner of a room and hanging up a collection is called a string garden.

How to display them

Groups always look better than individual specimens. Suspend three or more Kokedama at different heights as an eye-level feature. Use them to liven up a bland corner in a room.

Go rustic, and find a sturdy, dead branch in the garden, which can be secured by brackets onto a wall. Hang the Kokodama from the wooden branch. Build up a collection around them, with stand-alone Kokedama below, each featuring a foliage plant or flower.

Use Kokedama to decorate the bathroom; they will love the humidity.

Taking care of your kokedama

Spritz daily for humidity.

Water once every three to five days depending on the amount of light and humidity in your home. When the ball dries out or becomes slightly lighter it’s time to water again. Don’t wait until the leaves droop.

Sink the Kokedama into a bucket of water that comes half-way up, and leave it for a while to soak up the water. When the ball feels heavy, remove it from the bucket and allow it to drip in a sink before hanging it up again.

Place your Kokedama in a position that receives bright, indirect light but not where it will be in the sun. The amount of light also depends on the plant in the Kokedama.

Some, like Spathiphyllum (peace lily), only need low to medium light while gerberas or roses like brighter light.

Keep away from the heater in winter. Plants also should not be too close to windows as the temperature drops at night.

Feed the foliage with a foliar feed.

Clip off any dead leaves.

Expect to repot once every year or two as the plant grows.

Saturday Star