Which pot to use

bonsai-potsby Rudi Adam

It is said that a tree should never be placed in the center of a container since that is BUDDHA'S place - the only exception to this 'rule' being a round container. When one observes large trunked Japanese trees, this rule often seems to have been infringed and the tree seems to take precedence.

There are three main points to take into consideration when deciding where to place the tree in the container:

  • trunk line
  • first branch
  • root movement (base)

Personally, I usually take the trunk line into consideration when placing my trees. Japanese teaching generally favors first branch.

Shapes of Containers

Containers come in round, square, rectangular, oval, hexagonal and octagonal shapes with or without a lip curving in or out; they can be deep or shallow, with or without feet. Some have a raised or cut-in panel others have ornamentation in the form of lines or script.

The shape of the container must be suitable to the style of the tree and its actual appearance and the placement of the tree is therefore unique. Young trees in training are usually planted into suitable round training pots giving the root system and therefore t.he tree, the ability to develop evenly all round.

Round Pots

Young trees, free style, semi cascade, full cascade, leaning trunk, Horai style (winding trunk) can be placed in round containers.

Oval Pots

Deciduous trees and trees with round or oval leaves, as well as feminine and soft out-lined styles can be planted in oval containers. Upright style trees of this type, informal upright, leaning trunk, twin and multi-trunk as well as forests look good in oval pots (feminine) since oval pots give the impression of having a larger expanse than any other.

Square Pots

Square containers are not aesthetically the easiest and are usually used only for free-style to add some formality to the planting. Semi- and full cascades are also planted in this type of container. It may be looked upon squarely or across a corner used as the front.

Rectangular Pots

Rectangular containers and ovals are the most used in Bonsai. They represent a clearly defined segment of landscape and are suitable for all upright and leaning styles. They usually hold the stronger more rugged looking trees (masculine).

Hexagonal and Octagonal Pots

These are usually used for free-style or flowering Bonsai since they tend to be more ornate (blossom shaped)

Trunk - Pot Relation

It is generally accepted that the base of the trunk should be reflected in the depth of the container. The length of the container should be two thirds of the height or width of the tree, whichever is the greater. In very young and heavy-trunked trees this relationship may not be true since young trees demand for horticultural reasons, a deeper container and heavy trunked trees may need an apparently smaller sized container.

Contact Us

We would be happy to hear from you should you like to find out more about the club, meetings or bonsai in general.

Send us a mail

Year Programme

We have an exciting calendar of club meetings, events and public exhibitions planned for 2017/8.

Learn more


Overhanging Pine

Adding its mite of needles to the Waterfall

Random Bonsai Tip

So much time is spent on striving towards perfection in the foliage area of trees but little contemplation goes into the area around the nebari. Consider planting your tree at different heights in the pot which might enhance the existing taper and roots. If your tree lacks roots use moss mounded in such a way to suggest underlying roots, or you can even use sticks of similar appearance to the wood of the tree as 'fake' roots until you are able to coerce roots to fill the void. Use appropriate gravel to complete the scene.