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Caring for your Kokedama

Hayley Freestun

Kokedama Love  (Image: The Gypsy Collective)

Kokedama Love  (Image: The Gypsy Collective)

Do you have a new Kokedama but don't fancy yourself the best green thumb around? Fear not, its really not hard! Plus the trusty old internet is FULL of information on how to care for house plants. Kokedamas are just that, house plants, they are just in a different form.

Kokedama (苔玉), in English, literally "moss ball" is a form of Japanese bonsai. It is essentially a ball of soil, covered with moss, within which an ornamental plant grows. The idea has its origins in Japan, where it is a combination of both Nearai and Kusamono Bonsai styles. Today, Kokedama is very popular in Japanese gardens and homes.

The moss ball acts as a sort of pot or vessel with the added bonus of having a moisture retaining sphagnum moss around them at all times. I actually find them easier to take care of then my actual house plants! (and I have a lot of house plants!)

To help you out, I have compiled a list of all the different species of plants that I have sold as Kokedamas, hopefully this will help you to maintain your Kokedamas and any other houseplants you have. I am also a Landscape Architect and MPN (Major Plant Nerd) ;) so I have included the botanical names as well, I thought this might help you if you want to research further into your particular plant.

The most asked question is usually 'how much should I water it?'. As a rule of thumb it is suggested to feel the weight of the Kokedama over time - when the ball feels light, it can be submerged in water again.

Arrowhead Plant / Goose Foot Plant

Arrowhead Plant / Goose Foot Plant (Image: The Gypsy Collective) 

Arrowhead Plant / Goose Foot Plant (Image: The Gypsy Collective) 

Common Name: Arrowhead Plant / Goose Foot Plant

Botanical Name: Syngonium podophyllum

Typically Grown: Indoors (can be grown outdoors)

Water: Around once a week - fortnight. Wait for the moss to dry out before watering again.  

Humidity: Loves it, too much dry air may cause the leaves to brown.

Sun: Likes good light but not direct sunlight.

Form: Full and soft

Care: Trim back leaves as necessary from base to avoid ‘straggling'.

Difficulty Level: Low

Jade Plant / Money Plant

Jade Plant  / Money Plant (Image: The Gypsy Collective)

Jade Plant  / Money Plant (Image: The Gypsy Collective)

Common Name: Jade Plant / Money Plant

Botanical Name: Crassula species

Typically Grown: Outdoors and Indoors

Water: Sparingly, do not over water, let them fully dry out and then water.

Humidity: Can handle humidity and potentially a nuclear fallout.

Sun: Can handle full sun and low light.

Form: Architectural 

Care: With age Jade sill develop thick tree like branches with fleshy, glossy and smooth, leaves. Leaves are jade green and will develop red tinge to edges when exposed to high light levels. New stem growth will be the same colour and texture as the leaves, in time they will become brown and woody.

Difficulty Level: Low

Parlour Palm

Parlour Palm (Image: Pinterest)  

Parlour Palm (Image: Pinterest)  

Common Name: Parlour Palm

Botanical Name: Chamaedorea elegans

Typically Grown: Indoors

Water: They say to under-water rather than over-water a parlour. Wait until the moss has dried out, at which point water again. Water less when light or temperature levels are low simply because in those conditions plant's don't use as much water.

Humidity: Can handle high and low humidity but prefers high humidity. 

Sun: Filtered Light. Ideal location should be bright with a little sun in early morning or late afternoon.

Form: Tropical / Elegant

Care: Never "prune" or cut off healthy green fronds as they have only one point of growth, which if removed will stop growth completely. Lower fronds will naturally die and brown over time though and you should cut them off to maintain the overall attractive appearance.

Difficulty Level: Low

Rubber Plant

Rubber Plant (Image: The Gypsy Collective)

Rubber Plant (Image: The Gypsy Collective)

Common Name: Rubber Plant

Botanical Name: Ficus elastica 'Melony'

Typically Grown: Indoors our outdoors (out of direct sunlight).

Water: Sparingly, do not overwater, water when moss has dried out. Do not let it sit in water. These guys are pretty hardy.

Humidity: Can handle low or high humidity.

Sun: Indirect sunlight is good, do not grow in direct sunlight as your leaves could burn in bright harsh sun.

Form: Architectural

Care: Rub the leaves with a damp cloth to remove dust and keep clean, I do this with all my big leaved plants. Never use oil on your leaves as it stops the oxygen getting into them.

Rubber plants grow VERY well and can get big. You can prune the Rubber Plant, find the central stem and then cut (I suggest to google how to this and follow the instructions!). Where you cut, sap may drip for a while so you may have to wrap the exposed stem in a wet paper towel for a few hours until it stops. After this a new growth point will establish from where you cut it and should grow upwards. If your plant is healthy it may get two growth points. This should make your plant more bushy and branched. However remember to be patient. Growing new branches will take a little bit of time. Alternatively if your rubber plant gets too big, unbind it and transfer it into a pot. 

Difficulty Level: Low

Maiden Hair Fern

Maiden Hair Fern (Image: The Gypsy Collective)

Maiden Hair Fern (Image: The Gypsy Collective)

Common Name: Maiden Hair Fern

Botanical Name: Adiantum species

Typically Grown: Indoors and outdoors in shaded positions

Water: Water once a week, do not let the soil dry out, but do not let it stay soaking wet.

Humidity: Maidenhair is intolerant of low humidity or dry air from heating or cooling vents, misting the plant daily will help with its longevity.

Sun: Partial to full shade 

Form: Architectural/ soft and willowly (depending on species)

Care: Not for the faint hearted I say, though maybe I am over cautious with the old maidenhair, its just so beautiful elegant and delicate. Research shows that maidenhair prefers small containers and dislikes repotting. If your maidenhair fern dries out and its fronds turn brown and die, there may still be hope. Cut the fronds off at soil level, and keep the soil moist. Even under the best conditions, your plant will end up with dead leaves and fronds as this is generally what what happens to old leaves when new growth occurs on most plants.

Difficulty Level: Medium - High

Pothos / Devils Ivy

Pothos / Devils Ivy (Image: The Gypsy Collective)

Pothos / Devils Ivy (Image: The Gypsy Collective)

Common Name: Pothos / Devils Ivy

Botanical Name: Epipremnum aureus ‘Marble Queen’

Typically Grown: Indoors or Outdoors

Water: Can handle drying out but loves it when you re-soak him. Don’t overwater it though or the roots may rot. Let the moss dry out a bit before soaking.

Humidity: Handles high humidity well but is also fine with low humidity.

Sun: Grows best in bright indirect light (filtered light, not direct sunlight).

Form: Trailing, hanging habit.

Care: Pothos grows suckers, so it can creep, trail and cling around anything in its path, it will spread and grow towards sources of light. Bare this in mind if it is placed near a wall (it might stick to it!). You can solve this by keeping it trimmed and regularly minting it. Pop the off cuts in a vase of water and watch it grow new roots! (Aww yeah that means free new little plants for you for your effort!)

Difficulty Level: Low

Madagascar Dragon Tree

Madagascar Dragon Tree (Image: The Gypsy Collective)

Madagascar Dragon Tree (Image: The Gypsy Collective)

Common Name: Madagascar Dragon Tree

Botanical Name: Dracaena marginata

Typically Grown: Indoors and outdoors

Water: Does not require regular water, allow the moss to dry out before soaking again. 

Humidity: Likes a bit of humidity, you can mist the leaves from time to time if you really want to but he's pretty tough.

Sun: Light shade, likes a bit of bright light. 

Form: Architectural

Care: If you see the bottom leaves yellowing off and dying don’t worry! Its a good thing! It means that the crown should have new growth. Just pick the bottom yellow leaves off to allow for all the nutrients to go to the new growth.

Difficulty Level: Low

Dumb Cane / Leopard Lily

Dumb Cane / Leopard Lily (Image: Pinterest)

Dumb Cane / Leopard Lily (Image: Pinterest)

Common Name: Dumb Cane / Leopard Lily

Botanical Name: Dieffenbachia species

Typically Grown: Indoors

Water: They like a really good watering then to be left alone to dry out for a bit.

Humidity: Does well in high humidity but equally as fine in low humidity.

Sun: Likes indirect bright light (not direct sunlight).

Form: Full and tropical

Care: Try not to overwater as you may rot the stem, if you find your leaves have brown edge, it mean you are overwatering it. Too much direct light may make your leaves look pale and scorched. Old leaves will yellow with age, just pick then off like with the Dracena, if they are all yellowing it might need to be moved to a warmer position, this could also be happening if you are watering it too often.

Difficulty Level: Low


Philodendron 'Little Phil' (Image:

Common Name: Philodendron

Botanical Name: Philodendron species

Typically Grown: Indoors or outdoors (in shaded areas)

Water: Likes a bit of water but don’t overwater, allow the plant to dry out a little bit before re-watering.

Humidity: Does well in high and low humidity

Sun: Bright, indirect sunlight. (not direct sunlight) 

Form: Varies depending on species

Care: While it’s normal for older leaves to yellow, if this happens to several leaves at the same time, the plant may be getting too much light. On the other hand, if the stems are long and leggy with several inches between leaves, the plant probably isn’t getting enough light. Droopy leaves can mean that the plant is getting too much or not enough water. But the leaves recover quickly when you correct the watering schedule.

Difficulty Level: Low

Succulents (Various)

Succulents (Image: Pinterest)

Succulents (Image: Pinterest)

Common Name: Succulents

Botanical Name: Varies

Typically Grown: Indoors and Outdoors

Water: Does not need much water, allow to dry out.

Humidity: Prefers lower humidity (i.e probably don't put him next to the steamy shower in the bathroom)

Sun: Can handle full sun and part shade.

Form: Architectural

Care: Super hardy. You can set and forget most succulents and they don’t care. If they are starting to look droopy or pale, give them some water or reposition them to get a little bit of shade, you can place indoors in a bright sunny position or outdoors.

Difficulty Level: Low


Food for thought...

With all plants feeding them extra nutrients every few months is always good. A liquid fertiliser is best such as Seasol or Charlie Carp (beware they may smell a bit fishy or seaweedy for a bit, because of this you might want to do this outside to do.  You will also need to make sure you dilute the liquid fertiliser in water before use - check the instructions on how to use liquid fertiliser on the packaging. 

Small Vintage Kokedama (Pothos) in Glass Dish (Image: The Gypsy Collective) 

Small Vintage Kokedama (Pothos) in Glass Dish (Image: The Gypsy Collective) 

Applying liquid fertiliser to a kokedama is a bit different to normal potted houseplants, I apply it to the top of the ball were the plant stems come out of the dirt because i don't want to get fertiliser all over the jute twine in case it discolours it or makes it smell, I put it in at the base of the stem so it goes straight into the soil.

Very carefully pour a little bit of the liquid fertiliser in. Once I have done this I soak the plant in a sink of water and then leave it to dry out for a bit, there's a lot of choices of liquid fertiliser out there (animal and plant based) so head into your local hardware store and see what suits you best.

Don't freak out but....

A lot of plants have mildly poisonous elements to them. Its just reality. Always has been aways will be. If you are concerned about your plant, it is essential that you research the plant up to see if it does (see aren't you glad I needed out with the whole botanical names thing?). But don’t freak out, just make sure that you are aware of it and that you position your plant where children or pets can’t reach it or eat it. Some sap may also be an irritant so if you are at all concerned or have sensitive skin, as I do, take precautions such as using rubber gloves or just avoiding the sap. We are all adults so its up to each of us to be aware and responsible of these things. Ya know? 

Can't get enough of your love baby....

The internet is a wealth of knowledge. If your plant is growing too big and you still love it more than your partner or children, think about re-potting it or transferring it into a larger kokedama ball. Plants are living things so they will grow and change continually with time. With some smarts, you can keep all of your beautiful plants in your house for a long long time! Continually changing and evolving into new and beautiful creatures. All plants (and living things in general) will always need maintenance, care and love.

You spin me right round baby right round...

Remember plants grow towards the light so if your little guy is listing to one side it might be time to rotate him!

Best of luck with your Kokedamas!

The Gypsy Collective xx


Disclaimer - All information contained in this blog is purely for information only, we take no responsibility for the condition of your plant or its health after it leaves our hands, it is your responsibility to look after your houseplants correctly and to place them in appropriate positions based on your own individual requirements and your particular plants ideal growing conditions. 

Achieving Eclecticity

Hayley Freestun

How to Achieve an Eclectic Style:

I recently saw a designers work that could easily be labelled as 'eclectic' and whilst there was definitely a variety of styles, eras and products used in the space, something just didn't sit right. 'Eclecticity' itself still needs to be well refined and carefully chosen and put together with a lot of thought. 

Individual pieces might be centuries apart and polar opposite but still need a thread tying them together. Wether that thread is hue, warmth, colour, contrast... It's almost an indescribable sense of belonging and most certainly a 'feeling' that you get as opposed to a measurable result.

Just throwing everything you like in together does not necessarily equate to a place one wants to be in nor does it create a desired sense of place. Key design principles or elements still must be at the very heart of what ever you are creating, choosing and designing, such as form, flow, function, balance, shape, colour etc. 

I love all kinds of eclectic style, the warmth it creates, the love it emits through it carefully chosen and placed objects. These are rooms with heart and soul and each one reflects an adventure and a journey of someone's life.

Create your own style | Tell your own story.

"It just happened like this..."

Hayley Freestun

Vase/Bowl Styling 🐚

I recently gave my good friend a Gypsy Collective 'Styled Centrepiece Pack' (a Vintage French Cut Glass Bowl + Gypsy Hand Picked Natural Decor) as a gift.

She did an excellent job at styling her Gypsy Pack. I showed her an image (below) of another Gypsy Collective Styled Vase I had done previously and she said to me "I love how 'random' and 'it just happened like this' your stuff looks - so effortless. But so hard to do!" And it made me think YES! It is really hard to get that natural look! (And thank you for acknowledging this my friend!) 

Working in the design industry for over a decade now, it never ceases to amaze me how much people overestimate their capabilities and underestimate how hard and time consuming 'simple' things are to create. 

One of my favourite sayings I found on a post card at GOMA is. "Modern Art = I could've done that + Yeah but you didn't" And it is SO true!  

When you realise how much is really involved behind a simple design, the process and journey taken to have been able to shed all the 'shitty' bits (which is super hard when you've just exerted a lot of thought process and energy into those redundant parts)  to be left with a minimalist 'whatever' that just 'works' but you can't put your finger on why or how... then that's your answer, someone's actually done a lot of hard work to deliver an unobtrusive and simple design... I digress... :) 

Style Me Simple 'the random ocean treasure collection' look and how to achieve it.

I usually recreate something several times before I am happy with it. You need to look at the balance of your elements and the colours, shapes and textures, even angles!

Sometimes I group elements or slowly layer them. It's all trial and error really. I also handpick every single thing I style with. New or old, collected, found or purchased.

You've just got to trust in your own creativity and then design with a sense of freedom.  

Create, observe, repeat. ✌🏼️🐚❤️