The art of bonsai is about expressing your individuality, which is why selecting the right pot is so important. It is essential that the style of pot you choose evokes the natural beauty and splendor of the bonsai.
Of course there are guidelines to follow when it comes to selecting a pot for your bonsai. But the most important one is this - if you like how a pot compliments your bonsai, then chances are it's the right pot for you. Even so, here are some simple guidelines to help you be sure when choosing a bonsai pot.
If your bonsai is taller than it is wide, the pot length should be little more than two-thirds its height. If your bonsai branch spread is wider than its height, the pot should be little more than two-thirds its width. Also, the depth of the pot should match the diameter of the trunk of your tree, at its base.
Material makes a difference
Bonsai pots are made from a wide range of material, including plastic, mica, terra cotta, and stoneware. It's important to note that terra cotta pots are low-fired, which means they are prone to freezing. Stoneware is high-fired and stronger against freezing, which is why many experts consider it the best. An unglazed pot is always a safe choice, and almost mandatory for an evergreen bonsai. Glazed containers should be limited to deciduous trees, or trees bearing flowers or fruit. Color usually compliments its elements.
Regardless, and perhaps most importantly, the pot must be deep enough to comfortably sustain the bonsai health and life.
Gender considerations in design
Bonsai exhibiting "masculine" elements - angular trunk movement, sharp downward branch movement, and extensive jin or shari - should be planted in containers that are angular. Bonsai with "feminine" elements - gentle trunk movement, cusring branch patterns, and rounded crowns - should be planted in containers with soft flowing lines.
Any of the books written for bonsai enthusiasts will lead you to believe that selecting a pot is intimidating and difficult. But really, the right thing to do is let common sense prevail. It doesn't take an expert to recognize an ugly pot. If people notice the pot before they notice the bonsai, it suggests a lack of harmony - and that's what bonsai is all about.