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Water Sculpture Garden

A simple but dynamic underwater sculpture garden.

By far the simplest project in this book, this display is somewhat minimalist, but that allows the natural structure of the marimo to take on the appearance of an underwater sculpture. The marimo’s velvet green color will enliven any space, and they work especially well for an area with low light. The small round stones add a contrast in size, and their dark color imparts a soothing waterscape. Put water in a jug the day before to allow the water to come to room temperature and chlorine to evaporate if you have chlorinated water.

Aegagropila linnaei, better known as marimo or moss balls, is a type of algae that grows into green balls in lakes in parts of the Northern Hemisphere. They make a great indoor water-garden plant due to their low-maintenance nature. They don’t need any special care and can simply be kept in a bowl or vase.

A word of caution: don’t be fooled by fake marimos. They are made of synthetic materials and look very smooth and are often sold in the decor section of pet or aquarium stores. Real marimo are available online or at your local aquarium store. If your local aquarium store does not have them, they can most likely order them for you—just ask.

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MATERIALS

  • Small round river stones (A)
  • One rectangular vase (I used a vase that is 9 inches high × 7 inches wide × 4 inches deep) (B)
  • Three marimo balls (C)

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Rinse the river stones and place them in the vase.

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Add the room temperature water to the vase, to within a few inches of the top.

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Gently place the marimo balls in the water, one ball at a time.

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WATER

Change the water weekly—tap water is fine.

LIGHT

Too much light can harm the marimo balls. If your marimo balls turn white or begin to lighten in color they are receiving too much light. It is a good idea to roll the moss balls periodically in the water to change their position so that all sides of the marimo get enough light. You will know they are not getting enough light if they are turning brown and dying.

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TEMPERATURE

Marimo are native to cooler water and prefer temperatures below 77°F. If you have placed your vase in a spot that heats up in summer, consider moving it to a cooler location, away from a window.

CLEANING

When you see dirt particles accumulating on the marimo you should clean them. A very dirty marimo will begin to brown. Gently squish it a few times in a container filled with clean water. You may then want to roll it in your hand a bit to prevent it from falling apart and to maintain its ball-like shape. If the ball does start to fall apart or turn black, the dark spots should be removed and the ball rolled into a ball again. Return it to the vase.

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CAITLIN ATKINSON