3 Reasons Why Bonsai Pots Are Built Very Shallow

  • By: Josh Koop
  • Date: July 10, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.
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There are some questions from new bonsai artists as to why people put bonsai trees into super small shallow pots. These pots are showcase points for many tree images you will find online and they are sometimes incredibly costly to purchase, so then why are bonsai pots shallow?

The main reason is to influence the overall growth of the bonsai . The shallow pot helps to expose more root system and make the bonsai look grander and to pop out from the pot and help add to the styling and beauty.

Let’s take a look at three of the reasons why you would want to have a shallow bonsai pot and what the benefit is. Then we will look at a few awesome shallow pots you could use on your own tree!

3 Reasons Why Bonsai Pots Are Shallow

There are an immense amount of options for you to plant a bonsai tree in and many will be very small pots. At its core, there are many choices but small pots allow for better organization and much more.

Allows For Easy Access to Root System

The root system is exposed for most older bonsai based on the small pot sizes in the first place, but sometimes you need to clean them up.

Pruning is sometimes required, other times it can help to look at them for any disease or other plant issues from pests. This is all much easier to do with a small shallow pot.

Helps Maintain Smaller Tree Size

Limiting the overall growth of the bonsai is helpful to keep it manageable and a shallow pot limits root growth overall and shortens the tree stature leading to a more compressed shape.

This is a simple method to help slow and limit the growth year over year that a tree would normally go through, trimming this allows you to keep a bonsai small.

Helps Minimize Chance to Saturate Roots

Bonsai, in general, are pretty to look at but they are very fragile if you oversaturate the root system this can lead to serious health issues with the bonsai and decrease survival.

Keeping a shallow pot allows for very little overall water retention and for enhanced drainage of the water you add to the pot.

This helps the bonsai to get all the water it needs but not to sit in a lot of excess water for extended periods.

Choosing a Pot Shape

In addition to being generally shallow, there is a lot of evaluation that actually goes into the selection of your pot. The main part of knowing the correct pot though is driven by understanding your bonsai characteristics.

Evaluate the Bonsai Characteristics

Typically your pot choice will be based on the bonsai tree and its characteristics, this includes the tree type, overall height of bonsai, and its age.

For example, if you have an older bonsai that is tall or a younger one with less growth it will be easier to pick out what size pot they need based on these factors.

Knowing these things helps determine how deep your pot should be as well. The depth can vary widely but typically for most trees this would mean no more than about three inches worth of depth at all times!

You want enough space to allow room for the root system growing into soil located in the bottom part of the shallow pot but make sure there are no problems with roots getting too large over time due to lack of nutrients from poor drainage.

Although there are many different styles and sizes available, most trees will do best with at least one-inch worth of depth all around which makes the overall volume about four inches or so.

This also applies when using larger bonsais as well since they benefit from having limited root system size growth that helps maintain their stature over time too.

Do some research before getting started though based on what you want out of your tree and how large it already is, doing this means ensuring proper

Basic Pot Shape Basic Guidelines

There is a wide range of pots for you to plant your bonsai in, most have some specific types of trees that may shine more in one versus another.

Outside of this many of the different pot, types are just down to your want and need for the bonsai at the current age and size, this can change over time as the tree continues to grow.

Rectangular Pots

Rectangle pots are typically flatter and wider than other types of pots.

This format is great for medium to large bonsai trees since it allows ample room space in the soil to allow for root growth as well as a good depth too.

The rectangular shape also helps with better drainage, this type does not hold water inside like some others making them ideal when you want your tree to remain healthy over time based on its health needs.

Oval Pots

Oval pots are typically thinner and taller than other types of bonsai pots.

This makes them great for smaller trees that you want to fit in the same general area as your larger ones, this also allows better airflow around each so there is less chance of root rot or fungus issues developing over time if kept moist too long which can be an issue with some plants.

They are not ideal though when it comes to allowing drainage space since they retain water inside more easily than others should it become saturated at any point.

Round Pots

The round pot shape has many different varieties based on height but overall they tend to look very similar no matter what type you choose.

These work well for most bonsais including those that have a lot of height to them since they can easily fit into the space with no problem.

They are not however ideal for maintaining proper drainage or getting rid of excess water that might develop at any point which makes it important you only use these when your tree is healthy and has good roots in place already.

Final Thoughts About Why Are Bonsai Pots Shallow

The bonsai pot shape is important because it can affect how your tree grows over time.

A shallow pot means you will need to water less frequently and that the root system won’t grow too large, both of which are good for maintaining healthy growth in a smaller space.

The depth of the pot also affects how quickly roots dry out when exposed to air outside of the soil, so choosing an appropriate type based on what kind of plant you have now (or plan to buy) is key!