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16/04/2014 12:04
The Art of Kokedama Maintenance

The Art of Kokedama Maintanence

 

Congratulations to your kokedama and we hope that you'll be able to enjoy your little living sculpture for a prolonged time. However, this will need for your care and contribution. If for example you have just received or carried home your kokedama, you’d better start with watering it!

 

In the following sections you will learn what you need to do in order to ensure that your kokedama can live and remain green in your flat for months or even for years. At Petite Planet we select the plants for the moss balls which can find appropriate living conditions in the kokedama for healthy development.

Where should it be?

Light

The label of your kokedama as well as the webshop product sheet informs you about the approximate light needs of your plant. The ideal location is obviously where the plant can get optimal light, but there are plants that can enjoy themselves even in wider range of light conditions – during the first month pay closer attention to your kokedama and find out how it reacts and behaves at the location you picked for it.

Light-demanding plants usually require direct sunlight for several hours per day (preferably in the morning) otherwise they can't grow healthily. Direct sunlight, on the other hand, could damage plants that prefer semi-shade, except for a glimpse of sun in the early morning or evening hours, avoid roasting them on your south-facing balcony. Most plants we work with are of this type, and they thrive best in a bright location, without direct sunlight. Shade-tolerant species will obviously not mind not living further away from the window, and they grow even with less, scattered light.

Whatever you read on the label or in the care-sheets, photosynthesis will definitely need some light, so please take care that even shade-tolerant plants cannot be located in a very dark corner, too far away from any source of light. Such plants, however, artificial light can suffice, too: in this case a white (preferably fluorescent) bulb should be switched on at least for 12-14 hours (colour temperature between 5000 and 8000K can best imitate natural sunlight).

Indoors or outdoors?

Petite Planet kokedamas are primarily prepared for indoor use, but this does not mean that they cannot be placed outdoors from late spring until late autumn. If the kokedama is kept outdoors you should make sure that the balls are not exposed to direct sunlight (or only for a very short period of time), because they dry out much sooner and the moss will quickly lose its nice green hue and will turn yellow (plus, as we said above, some plants might get burned). If you consider leaving your kokedama outdoors also for the winter, please look up a plant description using the scientific name shown on the label and check out whether it is frost-hardy. In any case, it is generally safer to keep the plants in a dark and cool place during winter – roots in the small balls are more exposed to frost than in open soil. We definitely do not leave our kokedamas outside for the winter. 

Hanging around

You can have your kokedama sit on a desk or a windowsill, or it can be also hanged. If you decide not to hang the kokedama, then place it onto a water-proof surface, or put a smaller plate or tray beneath. We use bonsai trays for this purpose, you may seek out a solution that might fit better to your taste. 

We recommend you using fishing line and a hook for hanging the plant up, but you may use any other string that is water resistant, for this purpuse. Keep in mind that the more natural the rope is the sooner it will give up and get broken due to dampness, humidity and moss attack – for example ordinary twine will not survive more than 2-3 months of service.

Those who like kokedamas hanging around, we recommend using the strong fishing line we provide on the label: the 5 meters will be anough for most enterieurs and it will for sure support the weight of a kokedama (up to 12-14 kg, 20+ lbs). Tightly reel up cca. 1.5-2 meters of this line onto the moss ball and tie it firmly. Cut the rest to the required length and fix on the top (ceiling, etc.), and tie a loop to the lower end. Using the attached hook, hang the kokedama onto the loop of the fishing line and you are all set. This will help you easily hang off and back the kokedama when watering. Normally, the kokedama will not release any water after having it properly rested after the bath (see further below), but try to find a place where a few drops of water falling off from the recently watered mossball is not such big deal.

How to water?

Water needs

In principle, kokedamas need watering half as often as potted plants, or even less frequently. In any case, periodically they get thirsty, and you must do something about that to keep the plant alive.

The plants we use in kokedamas have varying water demands. The label and the product sheet will provide information in this regard, too. If you picked up a plant with high water demand, its kokedama should be continuously kept damp (i.e. the ball must be moist by touching). For plants with medium water demand it will be sufficient if only the interior of the moss ball holds some residual moisture by the end of the watering cycle, but the kokedama should not dry out completely. Finally, drought-tolerant kokedamas might get totally dried out between two watering cycles. A typical watering cycle for a medium-sized kokedama with medium water needs under normal climatic conditions (i.e. not in the summer heat) will be once a week. 

When you are getting acquainted with your kokedama, touch and grab it frequently and you will feel as it keeps on losing weight. Soon enough, you will be able to tell by manually "weighing" the kokedama, if it needs water. You will have to water those kokedamas that are found too light compared to the damp weight – and of course when plants are conspicuously sweltering.

Okay, but how??

It is critical that we cannot water a kokedama keeping them under running water or using a watering can. Moss forms a strong barealy permeable layer on the kokedama enabling on one hand a longer watering cycle, and on the other hand preventing watering with running water. Kokedama needs bathing

Steps of kokedama bathing:

  1. prepare a bucket of room-temperature water (you may also use a large pan or you may also fill up the washbasin). Keep it idle for a while, if possible, so that the chlorine can leave the water, and never use a bucket that may be contaminated with chemicals.
  2. now pick up the kokedama, dip into the buket and push it under the water so that the plant stem is also immersed.
  3. wait until the intensive bubbling is over, this will usually take 20-30 seconds.
  4. gently press the excess water out of the ball while above a bucket. When doing so, you can relatively easily re-shape the moss ball and minor deformations may be repaired.
  5. place the the larger balls and those that are kept on a string somewhere where they can continue dripping for 5-minutes.
  6. now the kokedama may return to its place.

Feeding

Kokedamas like all plants need nutritients. You will receive the kokedama fully fed with the required nutrition, but it will sooner or later get exhausted. Every now and than you may pour some general substrate fluid into the bathing water, diluted it ten-fold compared the proposed dosage. With simple words: if the manual suggest using one millilitre for one litre water, then add the same quantity to ten litres of water. Over-concentrated feeding fluid may damage the moss. We normally advise on the ideal feeding routine for various plants on the relevant product sheets, but you will not make a big mistake if you give some nutrient to your kokedama at every third bath. Note that overfeeding leads to enhanced growth, which is not necessarily preferred with kokedamas that you plan to keep as such for a longer period of time. When feeding is most appropriate is the time when plants bloom. Do not feed during winter.   

Eternal life?

No, unfortunately kokedamas cannot live forever. The soil ball will for sure get exhausted within two years, and the plant living in the kokedama may also grow out the ball. In this case the kokedama might be re-potted into a larger ball (if you bring it into our shop, we will help you), or you may plant it into a larger pot or perhaps outdoor into free soil.

Pro tips

Only that nice green moss !

Moss love humidity but dislike being wet. When they are short of water, they will lose colour and do not grow as fast as before. When the on the other hand can't breath due to a water layer on them, they get dark brown and may even die. The best you can do for pleasing the moss is occasional spraying with water and squeeze out excess water after bathing. One every while you may put the kokedama out to the rain as well for a couple of hours. This is of course not a mandatory exercise, you can provide the basic living conditions for the live moss through simple bathing.

Pruning

Most plants not only tolerate but explicitly love pruning. If you can see that your kokedama has overgrown then go ahead and cut back using a sharp knife or pair of scissors – thus you can also stimulate new sprouts. Make sure that you read about the plant before you attack with the scissor, there are some plants that have a preferred season for pruning, or do not like pruning at all.  Pruning also helps the moss: if you find your ball too fuzzy or brownish, then pick up a pair of scissors and cut all around the moss as the shape of the ball requires, and you will see the green new sprouts emerging within weeks if the kokedama is kept appropriately.

 

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