Where in your Home should a Rhipsalis Live?
Living areas - Bedroom - Bathroom - Kitchen
This plant originates from rainforests in warm regions, and is commonly found in Mexico and Brazil. Surprisingly, although nicknamed 'mistletoe cactus' this plant actually prefers partial shade and will not tolerate direct sunlight. Rhipsalis will also benefit from regular misting a few times a week to increase humidity.
How often do I water my Rhipsalis?
Check every TEN days, if it is not as light as polystyrene, DO NOT water.
Your kokedama will need to be watered regularly. As every home environment is different, I can’t give you an exact watering schedule, though there are some signs to look out for to help you know when your plant is thirsty. The main thing to check is the weight of the ball. When the ball is completely dry and therefore needs a water, it will feel extremely light, as if made out of polystyrene. The rhipsalis tendrils will also lose their rigidity when the plant is thirsty.
The watering schedule will depend on your home environment and the season but I would check the plant every 10 days and be sure to feel the weight of the ball before watering. For Rhipsalis in particular, watering is likely to become less frequent during the cooler months, so I would check my plant once every 2 weeks during this time. Remember, it is less easy for water to drain away when it is enclosed in a ball so it is very important not to over water your kokedama and leave it water-logged – the roots will rot and your kokedama will not be pleased!
Many people like to water their indoor houseplants as regularly as they can, and sometimes this means forgetting to check for signs that the plant actually needs to be watered - these plants can easily be killed with kindness so please make sure the ball is properly dry ( i.e. as light as polystyrene) before you water.
How to Water Rhipsalis
To water, you will need a small jug with a lip or something that will allow water to flow in a small stream (I actually use a sauce bottle with a nozzle, but a very slow stream of water direct from a tap could also work). It depends on the size of the ball, but I would say you need around
200ml of water for your Rhipsalis. If you have purchased a mini Rhipsalis then you will need around
100ml of water. Once you have your water measured, pour it very slowly into the top of the ball. This may be slightly difficult with the Rhipsalis and you will need to carefully move the plant aside at the top to expose the soil. You don’t want the water to drip down the side of the ball, so ensure the water is pouring in a very slow stream into the plant ball. The aim is to use enough water to allow the soil to get damp, but not enough so that the moss layer and twine at the base of the ball is saturated. You can expect it to become slightly damp after watering, but if it is getting soaked, you need to use less water.
Overwatering is the most common cause of plant death in Kokedama.
Remember, it is less easy for water to drain away when it is enclosed in a ball, so it is very important not to over water your kokedama and leave it water-logged – the roots will rot and your kokedama will not be pleased! Many people like to water their indoor houseplants as regularly as they can, and sometimes this means forgetting to check for signs that the plant actually needs to be watered - these plants can easily be killed with kindness so please make sure the ball is properly dry (i.e. as light as polystyrene) before you water.
Signs of over watering:
• Mushy/yellow tendrils and new growth that are falling off
• Brown tendrils
• Moss ball is constantly heavy and hasn’t been allowed to dry out fully between waters
• Wilting plant, but the soil is wet
If you fear your plant may be suffering from overwatering, then allow your plant to completely dry out to give it the best chance of survival. Make sure your plant is in a well ventilated area of the home, and that it is positioned in an area where it is receiving the correct level of light according to the plant's care instructions. Cut off any areas that are clearly dead. This is so the plant can focus its energy on new growth.
Alternative Watering Method - Soaking
There is an alternative watering method, and that is to place your kokedama in a sink of water and allow it to soak for ten minutes. This is not a method I would recommend, as after testing, I have found that this causes premature decay of the twine. However, if you want to adopt this watering method, please make sure to:
- Only fill the sink with a very shallow amount of water - you do not want the ball to be fully submerged.
- Only soak the ball for ten minutes, no longer.
- Gently squeeze the ball once removed from the sink - to get rid of any excess water.
- Ensure the ball is placed in an area with good ventilation - prolonged dampness of the moss and twine layers can encourage mould and pests.
If you choose to water your kokedama in this manner, the watering schedule will be less frequent, and I would check the plant once every 10-14 days. Please also expect the twine to break down prematurely if you choose to water your kokedama in this way.
Your Kokedama Over Time
It is a good idea to add some liquid fertiliser to the water once a month or so to promote healthy growth of your plant (during the spring/summer months only). Please ensure you read the instructions so as to dilute the fertiliser to the correct strength.
Don’t forget to remove dead or brown foliage as with any other houseplant, and check for new growth regularly. If you notice white mould growing on your moss ball, don’t worry! This is harmless to the plant but should diminish if you place your plant in an area with good airflow for a day or two.
There will come a time when the twine on your kokedama will decay, but this should be months away provided you are not overwatering. Please see the ‘repotting’ section below for more information.
Over time, the twine on your kokedama will decay to a point where it is no longer aesthetically pleasing. When this happens, you have two options - either contact me, and for a small fee I will be happy to retwine your kokedama to get it looking like new. Alternatively, you can snip off the twine and unravel it, remove as much of the moss and soil layers as you can, and repot your plant with fresh potting mix where it will continue to grow.
Mould and Fungi on the Moss Ball
Due to the natural aspects of kokedama, there is a chance that your kokedama may grow fungi and/or mould, especially on the base of the moss ball. This is harmless to the plant but can affect the asthetics of the product. If this happens to your kokedama, wipe the mould/fungi off with a damp cloth that has been soaked in warm water and soap. Moving the kokedama to a brighter, more airy position for a period can help prevent mould coming back. Mould can be caused by overwatering and prolonged dampness - this is why I recommend against watering via the soaking method. Instead, wherever possible, water using a slow stream directly into the top of the ball.