Special Pots For Bonsai: Why Choosing the Pot Matters

  • By: Josh Koop
  • Date: February 28, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

The purpose of creating bonsai trees is not just to dwarf a tree. It is about replicating nature in a miniature format. When you see a bonsai, you will find it growing in a pot that looks equally attractive as the tree. These containers are shallow yet capable of containing the roots of bonsai trees. So, you may wonder: do bonsai trees need special pots?

Bonsai trees need to grow in special pots to have the desired shape and size. These pots are often shallow. They have different shapes and sizes. It is important to choose a bonsai pot that matches the species and style of the bonsai. Besides, the health of the bonsai depends on its pot. 

In this article, I will explain why bonsai trees need special pots. You will also learn how to choose the right bonsai pot for your first bonsai tree. 

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Why Are Bonsai Pots Important?

Creating a bonsai tree is a challenging task. The tree and its pot must come together to create the art. Therefore, you must choose the appropriate container for the bonsai tree. You cannot create a bonsai just in any container. Bonsai pots are shallower than other containers or pots for plants. But they have to be large enough to let the bonsai tree roots grow. 

Here are the reasons bonsai pots are important for creating bonsai trees: 

Bonsai Pots Hold Thin Layer of Soil

The shallow pot can hold a small amount of soil. As the layer of soil is also thinner, it is extremely necessary to maintain the size of the bonsai tree. Since the bonsai tree cannot get enough nutrients from the limited soil, it cannot grow like a natural tree. 

The Pots Help to Create Low Root System

Because of the thin layer of soil, the roots cannot develop like regular trees. Thus, it affects the growth of the bonsai tree. Also, the roots stay short and thin, which helps the bonsai creators re-pot the plant and prune the roots. 

Controls Water Retention

Bonsai trees grow beautifully when they are taken care of. Watering is essential, but you should not overdo it. Bonsai pots help to maintain the water level in the soil. As the bonsai pots are shallow, they cannot hold too much water. Besides, they have drainage holes in the bottom to let out excess water. Thus, bonsai pots keep the bonsai tree healthy. 

Basic Guideline To Choose Bonsai Pot

There are different types of bonsai pots with different shapes and sizes. They are also made of different materials. For beginners, it is hard to choose the right bonsai pot for their bonsai trees from all the options available on the market. 

You have to consider some factors before selecting a bonsai pot. Here is what you need to consider: 

Identify the Gender of Your Bonsai Tree

First, you need to identify the gender of your bonsai plant based on its shape, color, and texture. Masculine bonsai trees look strong. They have thick, angular-shaped trunks and branches. Moreover, these bonsai trees may have rough bark and visible wounds. 

Feminine bonsai trees have a delicate appearance. Their trunks and branches have an elegant movement. Also, they are less thick compared to masculine bonsai trees. The barks are often smooth, and the leaves are colorful. Most feminine bonsai trees are fruit-bearing trees. 

Masculine and Feminine Pots

You need to identify the gender of the bonsai trees to choose the style of the pot. For masculine trees, you should get masculine bonsai pots. Feminine trees look better in feminine pots. Here are the features of masculine and feminine pots: 

Features of Masculine Pots:

  • Rectangular or square shape
  • Heavy and angular
  • Rough edges
  • Greater height and depth
  • Intricately carved
  • Noticeable feet 
  • No glaze
  • Rims have inward lips. 

Features of Feminine Pots:

  • Round and oval shape
  • Smooth round edges
  • Thin lips on the edge curved outward 
  • Smooth and plain pot
  • Decorative design 
  • Glazed 
  • A flat body that is close to the ground
  • Short or unnoticeable feet

Choosing Pot Material 

Bonsai pot material is crucial not just for appearance, but also for the health of your tree. If you are creating a bonsai for the first time, you should go with the safest materials.

These are ceramic, terracotta, porcelain, and stoneware pots. These materials absorb excess moisture from the soil, which keeps the bonsai healthy.  

Other materials for bonsai pots are:

  • Concrete
  • Metals
  • Mica
  • Wood 
  • Plastic

Metal pots can become toxic to the soil at high temperatures. Make sure these pots have a ceramic or plastic lining to prevent the toxins from reaching the soil and roots of the tree. The materials used in bonsai pots determine their durability. So, choose wisely. 

Choosing The Pot Size

The pot size, depth, and shape affect the size and style of your bonsai tree. The bigger the pot is, the larger the bonsai will get. So, you have to choose carefully. The size of the container should be big enough to let the bonsai spread its roots.

If the tree is taller than the width, an oval or rectangle pot for a bonsai should be 2/3 as wide as the bonsai’s height. On the other hand, square and round pots have to be 1/3 as wide as the bonsai’s height. If the foliage spread of your bonsai is wider than the height of the tree, then choose the width of the pot to match the width of the foliage spread following the same rule. 

The depth of the pot should be the same as the width of the trunk of the tree. If the trunk is thick, the pot will have a greater depth. But for thin tree trunks, the depth is shallow. 

Bonsai Pot Shapes

The classic styles for bonsai trees are rectangular and round shapes. Here are some common shapes of bonsai pots:

  • Rectangular
  • Square
  • Oval
  • Circular
  • Rectangular with round corners
  • Lotus shape pots

As you have learned above, rectangular and square pots are for masculine bonsai trees, and oval and round pots are for feminine trees. Trees having both masculine and feminine features will look good in androgynous pots, like rectangular pots with round corners. 

Choosing Pot Color

Beginners get confused while choosing the right color for the bonsai pot. To make your bonsai more attractive, choose a color that matches the tree color. Choose a color that goes well with the trunk, leaves, flowers, fruits, or any unique feature of the bonsai.

If you do not understand which color to choose, you can consider the safe colors. Choose a pot that has unglazed brown, gray, or earthy tones. 

Drainage Holes and Wiring Holes

Bonsai pots have drainage holes and wiring holes. The excess water should drain out to avoid root rot. The bonsai pots must have at least one hole in the bottom. Larger pots must have more than one. You can drill more holes if necessary. Holes keep the pot ventilated and the soil airy. 

Some bonsai trees can get heavy and angled. Thus, you have to wire the trees to the pot to keep them upright. You will find many bonsai pots with wires and wiring holes on the market.

Conclusion

So, do bonsai trees need special pots? Of course, they do. Bonsai pots are considered a part of bonsai art. Your bonsai plant will be most beautiful when you plant it in a pot that matches its size and color. 

So, follow these guidelines to select a bonsai pot for your precious bonsai. 

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