21, Jul 2023
Ultimate Low Maintenance Home Appliance Marimo Moss Balls

Do you want a houseplant that doesn’t bother you if you water it too much, requires absolutely no maintenance and after six months it will look the same as it did on the day of purchase? Let me introduce you to your new favorite, the Marimo Moosball.

I first met Marimo Moosballs in January when James Wong wrote about it in his Observer column, then I heard more about them in my episode of On The Ledge Podcast about office plants when Christopher Satch from The Sill approached her.

They are presented as a low-maintenance houseplant, and they are: just put your balls in a glass of water under bright light and, well, that’s it.that’s right, a glass of water. No, this is not a conventional houseplant with leaves, stem and roots that rest in the compost. And besides – the name is completely inaccurate.

It’s a ball, yes, but it’s not foam. “Marimo” means “seaweed ball” in Japanese, but it is also not an algae. It is a type of stringy green algae – Latin name Aegagropila linnaei-that lives in the lakes of different countries, from Scotland to Japan, but only where the conditions are perfect. It’s the Japanese who have really embraced Marimo as part of their culture: there’s a fantastic blog post about it at Tofugu.com , including the very bizarre (in my British eyes) mascot of the Japanese prefecture of Hokkaido, Marimokkori, with an unfortunate bump in his pants…

Anyway, keep it up quickly. Intrigued, I decided to get Marimo. I bought three large balls on eBay, but you can buy them in various online stores and in specialized water stores. They arrived in a damp plastic bag and first settled in an old cucumber jar, but now I have found a healthier home for them, as you can see in the photo above.

If you have an aquarium (but not goldfish, they tend to tear the Marimo), you can use the algae that is the Marimo foam ball to action the type of algae that you do not want in your water. As James says, the advice is to use soft water, but they seem to get along well with my hard tap water. The advice varies as to how often the water should be changed, but it should be given every few weeks. This site also recommends washing your balls from time to time, but this may be more necessary if you are in an Aquarium with fish than if you are alone in a jar.

And how do you rate yourself as a houseplant? Don’t expect the thrill of a Christmas orchid or cactus, but Marimo tend to be soothing – most of the time the balls rest on the ground, but occasionally and seemingly inexplicably * they go up like a natural lava lamp. My son was briefly intrigued and kept lifting the heavy glass lid to shout “attention!”from me, but the novelty seems to have worn off now.

I really need to add some pretty stones and maybe some driftwood to complete the Look. Although I can really see this plant in a house where the owner is away for a long time or wants something that looks good but is completely undemanding, I am not sure that my Marimo balls will steal my heart. They are soothing, yes, but in the end, algae just don’t drift my boat.

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