The moss ball is one of the bonsai styles that the root of a plant is covered with green moss. It is said that the origin of the moss ball is the Nearai that has been popular since the mid-Edo era(about 1650) in Japan. The plant has usually been cultivated in a pot for a few years. The roots develop in the pot. The root and soil maintain their shape even though the plant is taken out the pot. Its beauty has been appreciated for hundreds of years.
Because it takes so long to make Nearai, an easier way was found, that is the moss ball. Now Let’s try to make it. I think anyone can enjoy it.
Step 1 Preparation
(1) Prepare these things below.
・clay-like soil *→see Step 1-(3)
・a piece of net
・two pieces of wire
・cotton thread (1~1.5m)
(2) This time I used Trachelospermum asiaticum that I bought for a bargain in a gardening store near my house. The height from the bottom of the pot to the top of the plant is about 15cm.
(3) Soil preparation.
・Clay-like soil 60~70%
・Akadama(small grain) 10~20%
・Sphagnum moss 10~20%
*Clay-like soil is a kind of peat moss or the soil that contains some peat moss in it
* Akadama is bonsai soil. You can make a moss ball without Akadama.
*Cut sphagnum moss finely.
Step 2 Making the base
(1) Intersect two pieces of wire and twist.
(2) Put each tip of wire into the corner holes of the net.
(3) Then bend all wires up.
Step 3 Blending the soil
(1) Mix soils for the moss ball.
(2) It is very important to knead them well.
(3) If you knead it well, the soil becomes shiny. Then it’s perfect.
(4) Make some small balls from the soil that will be easy to use later..
Step 4 Trimming
(1) Take the plant out of the pot and trim.
(2) Choose the side that looks most beautiful.
(3) Loosen its root and remove the soil very carefully.
Step 5 Covering with soil
(1) Put some of the soil on the base.
(2) Put the plant on the soil and cover the root with soil little by little. Be careful not to stick the soil to the plant too much.
(3) It should look like this.
(4) To fix the soil, bend the four tips of wire inwards.
(5) This is the bottom view. It should look like this.
Step 6 Covering with moss
(1) You can make a moss ball with any moss you like.
I recommend using Hypnaceae because it’s leaves and stems are long enough to make a moss ball easily.
(2) Water the moss with a sprayer to prevent drying.
(3) Pick up the moss and wrap the soil ball quickly.
(4) Make sure to fill up the space between stems with the moss.
(5) It should look like this.
Step 7 Winding with a thread
(1) Use any color of cotton thread.
(2) Wind the moss ball with a thread, to hold the moss root together.
(3) After that, tie up both ends of the thread.
* A few month later, the cotton thread will disappear.
(4) Soak the moss ball in a bucket of water.
It is now completed.
(5) Display and enjoy your bonsai!
I put it in a Shigaraki ware pot.