Marimo moss balls aren’t actually moss, but algae? Aegagropila linnaei to be precise. These unique creatures can live up to 200 years, are native to lakes in Scotland, Ireland, Estonia and are a national treasure in Japan! Their folklore tells a tale of two lovers who were forbidden to be together. Heartbroken, they both fell into the water and drown and their hearts became the first Marimo. Because of this sweet story, Marimo are often given as gifts to signify love and commitment.
Personally, I love caring for these beauties and find them fascinating to observe. I adore how their bright, green aesthetic adds vibrance to any Sacred Space. Over the years I’ve learned some wonderful ways to keep them happily thriving too!
Keep them away from direct sun but in a brightly lit location. I find them growing happiest floating in a large vase, or in one of our stunning hand blown glass vases on my dining room table, next to northern exposure windows. This way they get plenty of light, but never actually see the sun.
What happens if they get too much light? They will develop brown spots. Think of it like their way of getting a sunburn. I will guide you through how to help them recover in Tip no. 4
Change out the water every 7-10 days. Here’s my step by step process:
Remove each marimo from the vase of water, gently cup your hands around them to help retain their round shape to keep them from tearing. Then, slowly squeeze until all the water is removed. Then roll them gently around and around in your hands to reshape. For reference, marimo balls can condense to a little bigger than half their hydrated size, so don’t squeeze too much or you can break the round shape. (it won’t kill them, but you will lose that nice orb aesthetic)
Place each marimo on a clean surface while you clean the vase or aquarium. I use hot water and a clean towel to wipe away any residue inside the vase, (I like to keep a designated cleaning sponge just for marimo vases without any soap) then I rinse the vase thoroughly with cool water to make sure it’s cooled off once again. Remember, these green beauties are native to cold lakes prefer to be chilly.
Next, fill the vase with cold tap water and add a few ice cubes. Replace the marimo into their new water and back to their indirectly lit home. You can also give the vase a swirl or turn every so often to give them a chance to rotate and retain their nice spherical shape.
The little extras that make a big difference!
I add carbonated water to the vase every month. The extra intake of CO2 gives them a boost to help photosynthesis. I’ve found the ratio of about 3 parts tap water to 1 part carbonated water (I’m a notorious non-measurer) is a safe and effective addition to your ongoing marimo care routine. Here’s one of my recent posts about this method.
For a sick Marimo ball, here are my suggestions from past experience:
Add a pinch of our Marimo Salt to the water when treating any Marimo with brown spots or sun damage.
Since Marimo sometimes live in brackish water, a slight dose of salt actually helps them heal their wounds. I also suggest keeping any Marimo with spots in a separate vase so you can keep track of the healing process. I’ve had success bringing damaged Marimo balls back to health by changing the water out more frequently (about every 5-7 days) adding carbonated water with every water change, and a pinch of our Marimo Salt.
For Marimo with a slightly stinky odor, try this method:
Gently remove Marimo from the water, squeeze (think firm but supported hug) and then roll between two hands before placing in clean spring or tap water. Repeat every few days until the stinky, dank or sulfur odor is gone. Be sure to squeeze out the water every time you do a cleaning and run clean water over Marimo to rinse during the squeezing process. It’s very important to remove those impurities to help it recover and thrive again.
***Note: If your Marimo is stinky, mushy, AND have grey spots, I’m sorry to say that there is little to be done to save it. I suggest removing it from the water and composting it. Be sure to clean the vase or aquarium before adding any new Marimo.
Create your own ‘Living Arrangement’
I LOVE using Marimo when propagating my monstera, sansevieria, maranta or philodendron cuttings. Since they don’t need to be in direct light while propagating and growing roots, I often add these cuttings in with my Marimo moss balls. Here are a few examples:
I’ve recorded a few videos on my Youtube channel covering this process too.
Marimo moss balls also make for a fun centerpiece as they are often the root of many conversation starters, especially for children, who I always encourage to touch or hold the Marimo. It’s a fun sensory experience for them.
Where to find them you may be wondering? I sell them in our shop now! We receive and grow our Marimo from a sustainable, trusted source because keeping them happily thriving in their natural, protected habitat is very important to us!
Hope that helps my friends! As always, sending out the love with the hope to inspire you to create a Sacred Space in your world too. Natural World Therapy for all!!
Oh, and, did you know I’m working on a book? Sacred Elements Guidebook, preorder begins December 2019! I’ll send out an update in my seasonal newsletter too.
Why do Marimo sink, and what makes them float? Excellent question friends. Here's what we have learned.
A manual that will lead you to connect with the natural world, and encourage you to make it a daily ritual.
You’ll find Karina’s signature plant life imagery, sensory guided experiences and meditations, plant care tips, step by step guidance to create your own sacred space, and ways to live more sustainably.
*20% of the proceeds of every Sacred Elements Guidebook sold will go to organizations that supporting small, independent farmers and educate children to grow their own food.