DIY Japanese Gardening: How to use Kokedama and Ikebana Tools

In this article, you will learn about using kokedama and ikebana tools for DIY Japanese gardening. Kokedama is a form of Japanese gardening where plants are grown in moss balls, and ikebana is the art of flower arrangement. We will show you how to use these tools to create your own beautiful and peaceful Japanese garden.

To start with kokedama, you will need some basic tools such as scissors, twine, and moss. You can choose a variety of plants to create your kokedama, such as ferns, orchids, or bonsai trees. We will guide you through the step-by-step process of making a kokedama, from preparing the moss and soil mixture to wrapping it around the plant’s roots. With these simple tools and techniques, you can create a stunning kokedama that adds a touch of Japanese elegance to your home or garden.

Moving on to ikebana, you will need a few essential tools such as a kenzan or flower frog, scissors, and a shallow vase. Ikebana is not just about arranging flowers, but also about creating a harmonious balance between the vase, flowers, and other elements. We will teach you the basic principles of ikebana, such as the use of asymmetry and negative space, and guide you through the process of creating your own ikebana arrangement. With these tools and techniques, you can bring the art of Japanese flower arrangement into your home and create a sense of tranquility and beauty in any space.


Japanese gardening is known for its elegance and attention to detail. Two popular techniques in Japanese gardening are Kokedama and Ikebana. Kokedama, which translates to “moss ball,” involves creating a soil ball wrapped in moss and suspending it in the air. Ikebana, on the other hand, is the art of flower arrangement, where the focus is on simplicity and balance. In this article, we will guide you through the process of making Kokedama and using Ikebana tools, allowing you to bring the beauty of Japanese gardening into your own home.

What is Kokedama?

Definition and Origin

Kokedama is a Japanese gardening technique that originated from the ancient art of bonsai. Traditionally, bonsai plants are grown in small pots, but Kokedama offers a unique twist by suspending the plant in mid-air. The moss used to wrap the soil ball helps retain moisture and provides a natural, organic look.

Materials and Tools Required

To make Kokedama, you will need the following materials and tools:

  • Small plants: Choose plants that thrive in humid conditions and prefer indirect light. Ferns, pothos, and spider plants are popular choices.
  • Soil: Use a well-draining soil mix, such as bonsai soil or a mixture of peat moss, perlite, and bonsai soil.
  • Sphagnum moss: This is used as a wrapping material and helps retain moisture.
  • Twine or fishing line: You will need this to secure the moss ball.
  • Scissors: These will come in handy for trimming excess roots and moss.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Start by selecting a small plant and gently removing it from its current pot. Gently shake off any excess soil from the roots.
  2. Prepare the soil mixture by combining equal parts of peat moss, perlite, and bonsai soil.
  3. Take a handful of soil mixture and shape it into a ball around the plant’s roots. The size of the ball will depend on the size of your plant, but aim for a ball that fits comfortably in your hand.
  4. Wrap the soil ball with sphagnum moss, ensuring that it is evenly covered. Secure the moss with twine or fishing line, tying it tightly but not too tight to damage the plant’s roots.
  5. Trim any excess roots or moss using scissors, taking care not to damage the plant.
  6. Once your Kokedama is ready, you can display it in various ways. You can hang it from the ceiling using twine or place it on a decorative tray or dish filled with water to provide moisture.

DIY Japanese Gardening: How To Use Kokedama And Ikebana Tools

Benefits of Kokedama

Kokedama not only adds a unique touch to your indoor space but also offers several benefits:

Improved Air Quality

Plants in Kokedama help purify the air by absorbing harmful toxins and releasing oxygen. They act as natural air filters, removing pollutants and providing cleaner and fresher indoor air.

Enhanced Aesthetic Appeal

The organic and minimalist aesthetic of Kokedama adds a touch of elegance and tranquillity to any space. The combination of the plant’s natural beauty and the moss wrapping creates a visually pleasing focal point.

Low Maintenance and Versatility

Kokedama requires minimal maintenance compared to traditional potted plants. The moss wrapping helps retain moisture, reducing the frequency of watering. Additionally, Kokedama can be displayed in various ways, such as hanging from the ceiling or placed on a shelf or table, making it a versatile choice for any space.

How to Make Kokedama

Choosing Suitable Plants

When selecting plants for Kokedama, it’s important to choose species that thrive in high humidity and low-light conditions. Ferns, pothos, spider plants, and ivy are excellent choices as they are adaptable and can tolerate a range of indoor environments.

Preparing the Soil and Moss

To prepare the soil for Kokedama, mix equal parts peat moss, perlite, and bonsai soil. This well-draining mixture allows water to flow freely through the soil ball, preventing root rot.

Sphagnum moss is essential for wrapping the soil ball. Soak the moss in water for a few minutes before use to ensure it is moist and pliable.

Creating the Kokedama Ball

Start by taking a small handful of the soil mixture and shaping it into a ball around the plant’s roots. Gently squeeze the ball to remove any excess water.

Next, wrap the soil ball with the soaked sphagnum moss, ensuring it is evenly covered. Use twine or fishing line to secure the moss, tying it tightly but not too tight to damage the plant’s roots.

Trim any excess roots or moss using scissors, ensuring a clean and tidy appearance.

Securing and Caring for the Plant

Once your Kokedama is ready, you can hang it from the ceiling using twine or place it on a decorative tray or dish filled with water to provide moisture. It’s important to monitor the moisture levels of the moss and water accordingly. Mist the moss and soak the ball in water for a few minutes when it feels dry.

To ensure the plant’s health, place the Kokedama in an area with indirect light and maintain a consistent temperature. Rotate the Kokedama occasionally to ensure all sides receive adequate light.

DIY Japanese Gardening: How To Use Kokedama And Ikebana Tools

What is Ikebana?

Ikebana, often known as the Japanese art of flower arrangement, is a meditative and contemplative practice that dates back to the 7th century. Unlike traditional floral displays, which focus on creating a full bouquet, Ikebana emphasizes minimalism, balance, and harmony.

Brief History and Cultural Significance

Ikebana originated in Japan and was heavily influenced by Buddhist and Shinto rituals. Its purpose was not only to create beautiful arrangements but also to bring a sense of tranquillity and spirituality to the surroundings.

Essential Ikebana Tools

To create Ikebana arrangements, you will need the following essential tools:

  • Kenzan (Flower Frog): This metal base with needles serves as a stabilizer for arranging flowers and foliage.
  • Hasami (Scissors): These sharp scissors are used to cut stems at different angles and trim foliage.
  • Nageire and Moribana Containers: These shallow containers hold the arrangement and allow the stems to be arranged in a specific style.
  • Jushi (Pruning Tool): This tool is used to prune and shape branches and stems.

Styles and Techniques of Ikebana

Ikebana offers various styles and techniques, each with its own principles and aesthetics. Some popular styles include:

  • Ikenobo: The oldest school of Ikebana, known for its emphasis on naturalistic and asymmetrical arrangements.
  • Sogetsu: This school encourages creativity and allows for the use of unconventional materials and styles.
  • Ohara: Known for its incorporation of seasonal and natural elements, Ohara focuses on creating arrangements that reflect the beauty of each season.

Selection of Ikebana Materials

When creating an Ikebana arrangement, the choice of materials is crucial. Consider the following elements:

Flowers and Plant Materials

Ikebana emphasizes simplicity and minimalism, so it’s important to choose flowers and plant materials that complement each other and create a harmonious arrangement. Consider the color, shape, and texture of the flowers and foliage, as well as the seasonality of the materials.

Vessels and Containers

The choice of a vessel or container for your Ikebana arrangement can significantly impact the overall aesthetic. Traditional Japanese containers, such as shallow ceramic dishes or bamboo baskets, are often used for a more authentic look. Alternatively, you can choose modern and minimalist containers to create a contemporary feel.

Supporting Accessories

In addition to flowers and containers, you can incorporate supporting accessories into your Ikebana arrangement. These can include decorative stones, branches, or other natural elements that enhance the composition and add visual interest.

Essential Ikebana Tools and Their Uses

To create stunning Ikebana arrangements, you will need a few essential tools and know how to use them effectively:

Kenzan (Flower Frog)

The Kenzan is a metal base with needles that holds the flower stems in place. Place the Kenzan at the bottom of the container and arrange the flowers by inserting the stems into the needles. This tool provides stability and allows for precise placement of each stem.

Hasami (Scissors)

Hasami, or floral scissors, are used for cutting flower stems at different angles. This allows for a variety of heights and positions in the arrangement. Hasami scissors are sharp and precise, enabling clean cuts without damaging the stems.

Nageire and Moribana Containers

Nageire and Moribana containers are shallow and wide, allowing for various arrangement styles. Nageire containers are typically tall and widely used for freestyle arrangements, while Moribana containers are rectangular and ideal for more structured and formal arrangements.

Jushi (Pruning Tool)

Jushi, also known as a pruning tool, is used to prune and shape branches and stems. This tool allows for precise cuts and helps maintain the desired shape of the arrangement. Jushi is particularly useful for trimming excess foliage and ensuring the arrangement remains balanced.

Steps to Create an Ikebana Arrangement

Creating an Ikebana arrangement requires patience, precision, and an eye for aesthetics. Follow these steps to create a beautiful arrangement:

Choosing the Right Container and Materials

Select a suitable container that complements the style and theme you wish to achieve. Consider the size, shape, and color of the container, ensuring it enhances the overall composition.

Choose a variety of flowers and plant materials that reflect the season or theme. Select different sizes, colors, and textures to create contrast and visual interest in your arrangement.

Preparing the Flowers and Greenery

Trim the flowers and greenery at various angles to create a dynamic and visually appealing arrangement. Remove any excess foliage or thorns that may detract from the overall composition.

Fill a container with water or use a Kenzan to hold the flowers in place. Arrange the flowers by inserting the stems into the water or Kenzan, taking care to create balance and harmony between the elements.

Creating the Arrangement

When creating an Ikebana arrangement, consider the concept of “heaven, earth, and human.” The tallest stem represents heaven, the middle stem represents earth, and the shortest stem represents human. Arrange the stems accordingly to achieve balance and harmony.

Experiment with different angles, heights, and positions to create unique and visually appealing compositions. Remember to step back and observe your arrangement from different perspectives to ensure it looks balanced from all angles.

Tips and Techniques for Successful Japanese Gardening

To ensure successful Japanese gardening, consider the following tips and techniques:

Understanding Proportions and Negative Space

In Japanese gardening, proportions play a significant role in creating a harmonious and balanced composition. Pay attention to the size and scale of plants, containers, and other elements to achieve a visually pleasing result. Additionally, negative space or empty space is as important as the filled space. Leave room for the eye to rest and appreciate the beauty of individual elements.

Layering and Creating Harmony

Japanese gardens often incorporate layers, allowing the eye to transition smoothly from one element to another. Use plants of different heights, colors, and textures to create depth and a sense of harmony. Consider the concept of “miyabi,” which represents simplicity and elegance in Japanese aesthetics.

Balancing Colors and Textures

When choosing plants and materials for your Japanese garden, consider the colors and textures that will create a harmonious and serene atmosphere. Blend contrasting colors and textures to add depth and visual interest to your garden. Use plants with different foliage types, such as broad leaves and fine grasses, to create a balanced and texturally diverse composition.


With the techniques of Kokedama and Ikebana, you can bring the beauty and serenity of Japanese gardening into your own home. By creating Kokedama balls and arranging flowers with Ikebana tools, you can add an elegant touch to your indoor spaces. Remember to choose suitable plants and materials, pay attention to proportions and negative space, and experiment with colors and textures to create visually appealing and harmonious compositions. Japanese gardening is not only a beautiful art form but also a therapeutic and meditative practice that brings a sense of tranquillity to any space. So why not embark on your own DIY Japanese gardening journey and enjoy the rewards of creating your own oasis of calm?

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Written by Kelly Kennedy

I'm Kelly Kennedy, the author behind Japanese Garden Craft. As a lover of Japanese gardening, I've dedicated myself to cultivating knowledge and sharing it with others. With a focus on providing in-depth reviews and insights, I aim to be a comprehensive source for all things related to Japanese gardening tools and techniques. Trustworthy reviews of various tools, from essentials to specialized items, are created by experts in the field. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned landscaper, my instructional content covers everything from the basics to advanced techniques. Let's embark on a journey to create your own serene Japanese garden together.

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