Find the right size pot

Photo – Pixabay / Tumisu

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Very often some amateurs buy pots without knowing certain criteria. They make a choice that they like but ignoring the basic criteria to enhance their bonsai.

You will find that I am repeating myself but this question is still as relevant…

Will this pot show off my bonsai?

Often some people buy bonsai pots because they find them beautiful. This is perfect if you are making a collection of these or want to have a great range of pots so you are never caught off guard. But trust me many of these people never have the perfect pot in their collection, they always end up buying another pot for their bonsai.

To find the right pot size for your bonsai, you need to have some knowledge of the gender of your tree, i.e. is my tree feminine or masculine? Is my tree a conifer or a hardwood? If you ask yourself this question or you don’t know what it is about, you can refer to this article here.

Above all, this question should not be neglected, because it is essential. First of all, it is necessary to know what is called “the law of third parties”. This rule is applied in the composition of pictures such as painting, photography or drawing.

Never lose the idea that your tree presentation is part of that picture. A good presentation must respect this rule. The great masters in the world of bonsai use it for the presentation of their trees at major exhibitions. You can apply this rule according to the structure of your bonsai, your pot, your table and the whole set of your tokonoma.

In a future article, I will explain to you how to design the structure of your bonsai with the law of thirds.

It’s easy to understand this rule, its name tells you a lot about it. You take an image and divide its length by three and its height by three. This is going to give you two horizontal lines and two vertical lines.

Here is what you should have as a benchmark.

But how could this rule help me find the right pot size?

Well, if we use this rule and apply it to find in the horizontal direction only, you will find the first measure of your pot.

Photo – Pixabay / ilyessuti

Take the height of your bonsai, divide this height by three (3) then multiply your result by two (2).
Said like that, it may not be very understandable.

Photo – Pixabay – ilyessuti / Photo montage – CSCeramique

So let’s take for example a tree that is 35cm tall from the top of the root bun to the top of the tree, so we take 35 divide by three (3) which gives us 11.66, then we multiply that result by two (2) which gives us 23.33. So your pot should be about a little more than 23 cm long.
( 35/3 = 11.66) (11.66*2 = 23.33)

So to go as short as possible, your pot should be 2/3 the length of your bonsai.

Photo – Pixabay – ilyessuti / Photo montage – CSCeramique

Alright, let’s move on to the second step. How to find the height of the pot?

This measurement is easier, take the diameter of your bonsai at its base (nebari), if it is 5 cm wide, your pot should be at most about 5 cm high on the outside including the feet.

Photo – Pixabay – ilyessuti / Photo montage – CSCeramique

I say « about » because these formulas do not take into account the arrangement of the roots and the appearance of the tree in general. These formulas are scales, conventions established to give us benchmarks, but they are not suitable for all styles of bonsai. Take for example a tree, cascade style, « bunjing » literate style or a forest, these rules cannot apply, because these styles do not correspond to the standard bonsai image.

In this example, the diameter of the tree is much more than the height of the pot. This tree is in its maintenance phase and has probably been in a bonsai pot for several decades so the root system is very compact so the owner can afford a lower pot to give the tree look more massive.

I will come back in a future article, with the three phases that a bonsai goes through.

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