Masterguide to choosing the right Bonsai pot

Selecting a pot or planter for Bonsai is often overlooked but it’s an important part of keeping your Bonsai Plants happy and creating a beautiful arrangement!

A tree is a tree; a pot is only a pot. It does not become a Bonsai until these two are combined and form a harmony together. A large part of the art of Bonsai is the experience of a tree that has become detached from its ground bondage and now lives a life in a pot. It fascinates me.

But as much as it fascinates me, it can be a challenging task to find just the perfect one.  Over the years, I’ve discovered a few things that are important to consider when choosing a pot, that many beginning Bonsai  growers don’t think of.

When choosing a pot for your bonsai, keep in mind that the decision will influence the overall effect of your bonsai tree. 

So let’s get started with a quick background on Bonsai.

What is a Bonsai?

The work Bonsai simply means “a plant in a tray“.

Bonsai is an art that has evolved by taking nature in its rawest form into inspiration. Many styles of bonsai have emerged over time and it a Bonsai artist’s imagination is the limit to his creativity.  There’s no doubt that bonsai has its roots from Japan, but it has become a lot more popular in our country lately.

Every day we see tons of people falling in love with Bonsai Plants and its unique art forms.

If you are a beginner in Bonsai and looking for a comprehensive guide, check out my post on ‘Bonsai for Beginners‘.

Hey, It would be really awesome if you support us by visiting our nursery You, Me and Bonsai , Saket, Secunderabad and buying beautiful Bonsai plants from us, so we can continue to create helpful free content. Thank you, we appreciate it!

Now without further adieu let’s get into the Masterguide to choose Pottery for your Bonsai.

Starter Bonsai

If you are growing from a seed, you can postpone choosing a pot until it has reached a point where it is large enough to stabilize (1-3 months depending on the species). The purpose of your growing pot is to offer support to your bonsai root system, while adding visual appeal to the overall look of the tree. 

Pro Tip:  Aim for something medium sized and relatively plain. The pot’s purpose is not to take away from the tree, but to accentuate to its overall visual appeal.

Here under are a few factors which can make a big difference in helping your Bonsai to thrive

  • Drainage
  • Material
  • Color & Texture
  • Shape of the pot
  • Size of the pot

Let’s see each of them in detail

Drainage

If you’ve read my posts on watering or soil, you’ve likely already hear me say… choose a pot with a drainage hole! If you come away from this post learning nothing else, remember to get a pot with a drainage hole. Seriously, this will make your life so much easier, as it takes a lot of the guesswork out of watering Bonsai. 

Material of the Bonsai pot

The next consideration is the material your pot is made of. Some common pot materials include ceramic, plastic, wood, metal and glass. So which material is best? 

Terra Cotta or Ceramic

Terra cotta and ceramic are both fairly breathable materials, which means they’ll work well in areas that might not get a lot of air flow. In fact, I’ve found that they work well indoors as well as outdoors.

The hard thing about terracotta and ceramic pots is they can be extremely heavy when compared to plastic. If you choose to grow in a large pot, you may find that it’s difficult to move after (and maybe even before) the soil and Bonsai plants are in.

Pro Tip: These types of pots are also quite fragile so you have to be careful not to drop them or knock them over. 

All our Bonsai’s in our nursery are placed in ceramic pots. For me, a ceramic pot gives the respect a Bonsai plant deserves. I would recommend you to go for a ceramic pot always if you have a choice.

We have a large range of Bonsai pots for sale in our You, Me and Bonsai , nursery in Saket Secunderabad. Feel free to drop by.

Plastic

Plastic is another popular option for pots and planters. A huge advantage to plastic is that it’s not as fragile as ceramic, is often a lot lighter and a lot cheaper than a ceramic pot. The downside is that it isn’t as breathable as terra cotta or ceramic. It’s much harder for water to evaporate in plastic pots than pots made from other materials.

But if you use a well-draining soil and have a drainage hole in your pot, this lack of breath-ability shouldn’t be an issue. Plastic planters come in a huge variety of colors and shapes which makes them really fun to shop for.

Wood

Driftwood is an interesting choice if your creative senses are tingling! It’s much more eye-catching than your typical pot or planter.

Plus, wood is helpful for Bonsai s that sit in direct sun or hot environments because it stays cool and retains water.

On the other hand, if you’re planting in an area with less sunlight and airflow you may find that wood can easily rot or keep your soil wet for too long. The wood may also break down over time, or split from being watered.

For all these reasons, wood may not last as long as some other materials for pots. But if you choose the right spot for it, wood can look really beautiful!

Rock

Rock Bonsai is another creative choice. Normally working with a rock planter is  You’ve to carve the rock in the right shape as per your requirement . A tree growing with its roots clasping a rock must really adhere to the rock, not just wrap around it.

Colors and Textures 

The most general rule when it comes to choosing the glaze for a Bonsai pot is that the color should appear in the tree, either in the bark, the color of the leaves, and fruit or flowers.  

The unglazed brown, gray and earth tones are usually safe choices. They also provide warmth and stability to the tree. But we can also work with contrasting colors like blue or cool green. They provide balance and refreshes the composition.

Shape of the Bonsai Pot

Generally, bonsai containers come in five shapes: round, oval, square, rectangular, and hexagonal. In each shape there is a wide variety of sizes.

Here under is a infographic explaining which shape of the Bonsai pot suits to which style. Hope it helps!

right-bonsai-pot-for-bonsai-plant
Right Pot for the style of Bonsai

Size of the  pot

The general rule is:

The pot should be of the same height as the trunk is wide above the nebari.

Nebari is the surface roots that flare out from the base of a bonsai tree. Oval and rectangular pots are usually 2/3 of the trees height. Round or square pots is 1/3 the height of the tree – unless foliage is unusually large, then the pot is also becoming wider, this is compensated by lowering the height of the pot.

The goal is to create harmony. Observe what choices others have done for their pot, discuss with others. Visit exhibitions, nurseries; go to shows, read books. Do not hesitate to contact a local potter or a Bonsai master and draw sketches or submit proposals for a pot that would suit your tree. 

Remember that there is not only one fitting choice of pot for your tree. There are usually multiple and what is best is a matter of your taste and it is you that first and foremost should be happy with your choice.

Hope you should now feel more equipped to purchase a new pot for your Bonsai . Once you’ve selected the right container, it’s time to start potting! Check out my post on potting Bonsai  for a step-by-step tutorial.

4 thoughts on “Choosing the right Bonsai Pot – Ultimate Guide”

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