Many factors go into creating the perfect bonsai. It takes a great deal of work to obtain and shape a tree into a beautiful and accurate representation of the art of bonsai. Selecting the tree, the lighting, the temperature, the amount and frequency of watering and what type of soil are just the basics. Achieving the right aesthetic requires attentiveness, honesty and thoughtfulness that result in their own quasi-Zen process. The bonsai is shaped to reflect the gardener’s work as well as their mood and level of awareness. Part of the look and whole picture of the bonsai depends largely on the potting and arrangement of the tree(s), stones and what you are putting it all in. Selecting the right pot for your tree and décor is one of the first and most important steps in setting up the bonsai. The tree needs to be re-potted soon after purchase to ensure its stability and healthy growth.
Repotting isn’t only to maintain the small size. But it is necessary to have a healthy tree. The same concerns go into the initial repotting as they do to older, more settled trees. The main purpose, first, is to get the bonsai into the gardener’s own pot and out of whatever it was transported in to the garden. Second, repotting is done to maintain the health of the roots. In the smaller space, the roots have less room to expand out and can grow into each other. The gardener has to trim them to keep the roots from strangling each other. So the repotting serves as an opportunity to trim the roots and promote healthy growth and to facilitate the effective absorption of essential vitamins and minerals from the soil. Bonsai soil is unique and has the proper aeration to allow the roots to breath in the more shallow pot. It also retains adequate water to hydrate the plant, and drainage to expel all the excess and prevent over-watering.
Bonsai Tree Pots
Picking the right pot requires the gardener keep several concerns in mind. Planting in the smallest size possible is important when choosing a pot for the bonsai. The pot has to be large enough to adequately hold the plant and allow its roots to grow steadily, but small enough to confine and control the growth so it is limited to that container for a long time. Repotting has to be done as quickly as is feasible, with tools, soil, drain cover, stones and water on hand. The tree should be removed from its original soil, inspected for bugs or weaknesses and shaken through to the roots (especially if it was not previously in bonsai soil). The roots should be trimmed as much as possible and then the tree situated in the chosen pot. The root hook can be used to remove about a third of the total amount of roots. Then the mesh is put into place over the drain hole and can be wired there with bonsai wire. A layer of soil goes in the bottom of the pot once the mesh is in place.
The tree can then be placed in and soil used to fill the rest of the pot as needed to keep the tree in place. Then stones and/or fertilizer granules go on top to slow the water absorption and create the desired aesthetic. And the drip tray, if not with the pot, goes underneath immediately. The most important things to remember when repotting are:
- only bonsai soil should be used, the appropriate one for the specific type of tree (conifer or tropical);
- it should be in optimal conditions or repotting season (late winter, early spring usually);
- only remove 20% of the root system at most to fit into the pot;
- work all air pockets out of the soil to the end of the roots
- Once all is in place, the bonsai should be watered immediately but keep out of sun for 1-2 weeks.
Bonsai Pots For Sale
There are a plethora of pot styles, sizes, shapes and colors to choose from, just as there are many types of bonsai plants and trees to choose to grow. Most are ceramic with:
- Chinese pottery (glazed or unglazed);
- Mica Pottery in several shapes;
- Japanese pottery (glazed and unglazed);
- Orchid pots and many more additional types.
As long as the size is right and there is plenty of aeration and a drainage hole (or one can be added), any type of ceramic or terra cotta pot will do. A drainage or drip tray is also necessary and many pots come with them. Pot choice is a very subjective choice and individual for every gardener and bonsai tree. The depth should be about equal to the area of the bottom of the tree. The shape should match both the shape the tree is and what shape the gardener wants it to end up being. (There is much talk of feminine and masculine pots and trees, but generally, it’s just the gardener’s preference for both). The color and texture should complement the tree, its leaves, the stones and soil you are using. The pot should fit the tree and the gardener and there are plenty of choices to suit both.