Wabi kusa: The latest houseplant trend from Japan
Plants have become an essential addition to any modern interior, and it's a well-known fact that they have a positive impact on our sense of wellbeing – whether in the garden or inside the home. But when it comes to choosing your houseplants, there's a whole world of greenery beyond the ubiquitous spider plant and yucca palm. A new trend with roots in Japan is taking over the indoor plant scene. In the art of wabi kusa, aquatic plants are cultivated as houseplants in decorative glass containers, transforming them into living works of art.
What is wabi kusa and how do I do it?
Wabi kusa – which means something along the lines of "attractive grass" in English – is a minimalist Japanese art form based on the concept of wabi sabi: An idea that revolves around the beauty in simplicity and imperfection. Another aspect of wabi sabi is the creative appreciation and use of nature.
In wabi kusa, this creativity is expressed in decorative arrangements of water plants in glass vessels. The aquatic plants are cultivated in an "emerged" state, which means that they are grown fully or partly above the water surface.
Wabi kusa will work in virtually any home, but it looks particularly effective when combined with wabi sabi style: The planting technique forms the perfect complement to organic shapes, natural materials and streamlined minimalism. Position your plants in your workspace or bedroom for an extra dose of inspiration and energy. Wabi kusa arrangements will also do well in bathrooms because of the high levels of humidity. Your plants will not only be an eye-catching addition to the room, but will also help to improve your air quality, too.
What do I need to make a wabi kusa arrangement?
To create your own wabi kusa, you will first need to find an attractive glass planting container. Minimalist cylindrical dishes work well, as do vases. When selecting your vessel, make sure that you choose something that will allow the plants to grow and drape over the edge.
To plant your wabi kusa, shape the aquarium substrate or soil into balls and carefully insert your plant using a pair of tweezers. Then arrange the plants in the glass dish and fill it with water until the roots are completely submerged. Or, if you're not particularly green-fingered, you can also buy complete wabi kusa sets online – with all the hard work of planting and decorating done for you.
What kinds of plants are suitable for wabi kusa?
Wabi kusa uses aquatic plants that can grow both under and above water. With just a handful of exceptions, almost all aquatic plants that you will find at specialist retailers will be suitable for your wabi kusa arrangement. Rotala rotundifolia and staurogyne repens are particularly popular choices.
Whatever varieties you choose, it's important to ensure that you allow your plants to make a gradual transition to life above water. Once you've mastered this step, your aquatic plants will reward you with a fascinating display as they develop: Many species grow differently in air than in water, with some even growing beautiful flowers.
How do I care for a wabi kusa arrangement and how much light does it need?
Even if you aren't green-fingered, you'll be able to get a lot of enjoyment from a wabi kusa arrangement because the plants are very easy to look after. The main thing is to remember to water regularly and thoroughly; ideally, you should spray your wabi kusa once or twice a day. You don't need to change the water, and any brown or yellow leaves that develop can simply be removed.
To ensure that your plants get enough light, it can be a good idea to put your mini water garden beneath a light. The Dyson Lightcycle Morph is a great choice, as it adapts dynamically to the amount of daylight so that your wabi kusa plants always get exactly the right amount of illumination.
Some plant lamps – particularly the more compact models – now come with a USB plug instead of a traditional main power supply. If this is the case, it's handy to have a USB power supply on your wall.
With the Gira solution, you can add two USB ports to your home: Enabling you not only to ensure that your wabi kusa gets enough light, but also to charge your smartphone without any need for adapters.
With or without additional lighting, we love this latest Japanese trend; wabi kusa arrangements are miniature works of art and a great alternative to traditional houseplants.
What do you think of the new plant trend from Japan? Let us know in the comments!