When choosing a new bonsai pot for repotting, pick one wider than your tree so they are somewhat proportional. You are welcome to choose a smaller or larger pot for repotting, however, these both come with their own implications. An oversized pot can prohibit the soil from properly drying and the roots may rot as a result. A smaller pot, on the other hand, will force you to frequently repot the plant and prune the roots.
There are two basic kinds of bonsai pots to choose from – display pots or training pots. While still in the training phase, your bonsai needs to remain in a practical and functional training pot, typically made out of mica, plastic or wood. Your training pot must provide an adequate space for a stable and healthy root system to grow, as well as to achieve the desired thickness of the trunk and good branching. Training pots are also equipped with large drainage holes to ensure water does not pool at the bottom of the pot, which can waterlog the roots and ultimately kill your bonsai.
Once your bonsai has completed the critical training phase and is fully developed, you can repot it in a display pot. Display pots are more aesthetically appealing and are typically ceramic with either a shiny, glazed finish, or an unglazed, matte finish. The ceramic pots are also frost proof. While display pots can be beautiful, it is important not to choose a pot that will overshadow the beauty of your bonsai, rather to choose one that will enhance the beauty of your tree.
Deciduous or flowering bonsai trees are complemented best by being displayed in glazed pots with soft hues, such as cream, light blue or green. Glazed pots often have designs on them like flowers or birds.
Unglazed pots in somber hues, such as gray, brown or reddish clay, are best paired with conifer and evergreen bonsai trees. These austere colors help portray the harsh environment that is their natural habitat. Unglazed pots are also often used when emphasizing the age of the tree or when the bonsai is being used to help express a quiet and calm atmosphere.
The size and shape of your pot should be in direct correlation to your bonsai tree. Longer pots work best for taller bonsai trees. Deeper pots work best for bonsai trees with thick trunks. You must ensure your pot can sufficiently sustain your bonsai tree. Trees with a masculine appearance look best planted in angular pots, while trees with a more feminine appearance are best suited for rounded pots.
Pot selection for your bonsai tree will eventually become a crucial, yet fun part of your bonsai experience. It will help you exercise your own sense of beauty while emphasizing the natural beauty of your beloved bonsai tree.