Marimo moss balls: the last word low-maintenance houseplant?

Marimo moss ball: it is a ball, but it's not moss ... Photograph by bryansjs on Flickr.

Marimo moss ball: it’s a ball, however it’s not moss … {Photograph} by bryansjs on Flickr.

You need a houseplant that does not thoughts in the event you overwater it, wants completely no care and can look precisely the identical six months in because the day to procure it? Let me introduce you to your new favorite, the marimo moss ball. 

I first encountered marimo moss balls again in January when James Wong wrote about them in his Observer column, after which heard extra about them on my episode of On The Ledge podcast dedicated to workplace crops, when Christopher Satch of The Sill introduced them up.

They’re billed as a low-maintenance houseplant, and that they’re: simply stick your ball(s) in a jar of water in vibrant mild and, effectively, that is it. That is proper, a jar of water. No, this isn’t your typical houseplant, with leaves, and a stem, and roots that sit in compost. And what’s extra – the title is totally inaccurate.

One up, two down... my marimo moss balls settling into their new home.

One up, two down… my marimo moss balls settling into their new house.

It is a ball, sure, however it’s not moss. ‘Marimo’ means ‘seaweed ball’ in Japanese, however it’s not seaweed both. It is a species of filamentous inexperienced algae – Latin title Aegagropila linnaei – that lives in lakes in varied nations from Scotland to Japan, however solely the place circumstances are good. It is the Japanese who’ve actually embraced marimo as a part of their tradition: there is a improbable blogpost about it at, together with the very weird (to my British eyes) mascot of the Hokkaido prefecture of Japan, Marimokkori, with an unlucky bulge in his trousers…

Anyway, shifting swiftly on. Intrigued, I made a decision to get some marimo of my very own. I purchased three largish balls on eBay,  (they price £3.99), however you may get them from varied on-line shops and from aquatic specialist retailers. They arrived in a moist plastic bag and initially took up residence in an outdated pickle jar, however now I’ve discovered a extra salubrious house for them, as you possibly can see within the image above.

If in case you have a fishtank (not goldfish although, they have an inclination to tear marimo aside) you should use the algae that’s the marimo moss ball to battle the sort of algae you don’t need in your water. As James says, the recommendation is to make use of delicate water however they appear to manage simply high-quality with my hard-ish faucet water. The recommendation varies on how typically to vary the water, however each few weeks ought to do. This website recommends washing your balls once in a while, too, however which may be extra obligatory in the event that they’re in a tank with fish than in the event that they’re simply in a jar on their very own.

An aerial view ... as favoured by my six-year-old

An aerial view … as favoured by my six-year-old

And the way do they fee as a houseplant? Effectively, do not count on the thrills-and-spills of an orchid or a Christmas cactus, however marimo are reasonably soothing – principally the balls lay on the underside, however often, and seemingly inexplicably,* they rise to the highest, like a pure lava lamp. My son was briefly fascinated and stored lifting the heavy glass lid, to cries of “CAREFUL!” from me, however the novelty appears to have worn off now.  

I really want so as to add some fairly stones and possibly some driftwood to finish the look.  Though I can actually see this plant working in a house the place the proprietor is away for stretches of time, or needs one thing that appears good however is totally undemanding, I’m not positive my marimo balls are going to steal my coronary heart. They’re soothing, sure, however finally algae simply does not float my boat. 

*I’ve tried to seek out out why they rise and fall often, however have not discovered one – if anybody is aware of, remark under! 

What’s all this podcast enterprise anyway?

If you have not but come throughout my podcast on indoor gardening, On The Ledge, test it out right here… or subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher.

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