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How to care for Wabi-Kusa and Kokodama

Care sheet for Wabi-kusa, Kokodama and Terrariums

They are easy to care for, but there are a few very important things you need to know in order to have success!!

It’s important to know that there is an adjustment phase that your plants will go through while they adapt to the environment and grow roots. Once this is over you’re in the all clear and it’s smooth sailing from there!!

Plead read below (all of it) 🙂 

Water!!!:) For about 2 days after you have made your kokodama or wabi-kusa ball you need to sit it in a little container of water that goes about 1/2 of the way up your ball. This keeps the cuttings moist allowing them to deliver water to their tips and leaves. Because they currently don’t have any roots you need to be there root system for a while by making sure their stems are wet at all times. Doing this also encourage roots to grow making your cuttings stronger, and allow them to turn into fully fledged plants as opposed to just cuttings without roots. Replace water once over those 2 days so it doesn’t go stagnant. After those two days simply dunk your ball in some water for about 10 seconds once or twice a day for the next two weeks. No need to let it sit in water anymore as you want air to circulate around the ball allowing oxygen to flow. If you have a terrarium in a glass bowl then just spray the plants daily making sure there’s not too much water in the bowl, as oxygen still needs to get to the “root zone area” and you don’t want the water to go stagnant due to lack of oxygen. A cm of water in the bottom is fine however and won’t do any harm. Keep the soil moist but not like a sludge.

Where to put them:) While your plants are busy growing their roots and adjusting to their new home, you need to keep your little display away from direct sunlight and away from intense dry heat. Sunrays produce a lot of heat, and having these pelt down on your new vulnerable cuttings would be all too much for them to handle at this point in time. A perfect place would be a warm area in the house under artificial lights like the normal old lights on your ceiling that you use to light up your living room for example. LED lights are excellent because they produce a lot of light but don’t omit heat! You could well put in the centre of your lounge providing there’s no hot heat from the heat pump blowing on it. Dry heat from a heater or being exposed to direct sunlight, especially on a hot day through glass is a big no no!!  If you accidentally do this (mistakes happen) and the cuttings look absolutely frizzled, quickly put your entire ball (plants included) into a bucket of water for a couple of hours. This will actually bring the cuttings back to life, unless of course they are completely shrivelled up to almost nothing. This is the most common mistake so take heed to my warning! If you really have managed to destroy your new display by frying it in the sun then still soak your ball in a bucket of water for a couple of hours, as you may be surprised by the results. After soaking it, completely remove the damaged leaves and be sure to leave the stalks behind and any leaves that are not all shrivelled up. They should still recover but it will just be a longer settle in process for them. Don’t give up on it!! It will look terrible for a while but you wait!! Good things take time and it will/should come back to life providing you carry on caring for it. It is normal for plants to go through an adjustment phase so it is expected that you will see a little wilting no matter how cautious you are, as cuttings have no roots and are weak and vulnerable until they grow roots! Don’t worry, you won’t always have to worry about this precious with them. They are only this delicate in the beginning phases. Also, don’t put your display in a dark area like a cold dark laundry, as they still need light to grow regardless of their current state. A light area in the kitchen or a bedroom table be fine providing the sun doesn’t pelt in with its intense rays. A little LED desk lamp would be ideal if your house is very dark. LED lights are very cheap to run also. Mitre 10 and Bunnings have some very cute desk lamps that are not very expensive.

Once your plants have roots (give a little tug on the stem to check) and have become more perky and perhaps even grown some new leaves, then your little display will be more resilient to heat and sunlight etc. Basically now that the stems have root systems, they are able to efficiently and effectively deliver nutrients and moisture to the leaves making them stronger, perkier and much more tolerant of the earths elements. But you need to gauge this carefully and introduce your display to more harsh environments with care. These plants are very adaptable and will go with wherever you put them providing their basic requirements are met (food, water, light). But whatever you do, you need to do it gradually so they can adjust along the way!

Fertilise your plants once a week with Daves Organic Liquid Fertiliser and Organic Liquid Compost. Put 2.5ml of each into a sprayer with 500mls of water. Just spray the leaves and a little around the base of your terrarium. If you have a kokodama or wabi-kusa ball that is hanging you can drench the entire thing. You can use these two fertilisers on all your plants, i.e. veges, herbs, shrubs, not just your display. These fertilisers are the best I have ever used and your plants will thank you for it with colourful, vibrant, strong, healthy, fast growth.

Now that your plants have fully acclimatised you don’t need to have them sit in a puddle of water anymore, just keep your ball moist by spraying with water once a day or dunk them in some water quickly. The balls will stay moist throughout the day due to the sphagnum moss inside them. Be sure to fertilise as above if you want the best growth possible. Even though the soil already contains a slow release fertiliser, at some point (if you don’t fertilise them), the soil will become exhausted of nutrients and the plants will start to fade as they are not finding the nutrients they need to grow and stay colourful. Trim/prune your plants when you feel they are getting messy looking. When you prune them be sure to leave some leaves behind and don’t just trim right back to the base of the stalk. Just above a leaf node is a good place! When you water your plants, do it in the evening or early in the morning. These plants, like peace lily’s and all interesting tropical plants just love having wet roots as they come from a wet humid environment like the Amazon. They will of course tolerate and acclimatise to dry periods, but water them once a day if you can remember! Now that you’ve gotten this far you’re in the all clear zone, and killing them all would be a real mission as they are much stronger now. You’ve done well!!!

Can you put it outside? You can put your display outside in the summer once it’s gone through its acclimatisation/root growing phase, but in the winter it will need to be inside somewhere as the cold and frosts are just not tolerated. The cooler the temp the slower the growth basically. These plants love having warm roots so summer is ideal for growing them. They will go a little dormant in winter if your house is really cold al the time, but they won’t die off or say good bye or anything sad like that, They will start growing again like weeds in spring and summer!!

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