How do I know if my bonsai is feminine or masculine style?

Photo – Pixabay / Alexas_Fotos / Espressolia – photomontage CSCeramique

One of the criteria used in the art of bonsai is the notion of “feminine” and “masculine”. This notion is quite ambiguous, because some people attribute this notion to tree species while others associate it with the image that bonsai projects.

Japanese maples are very often said to represent a feminine tree while Japanese black pine represents the masculine side in bonsai. But here, if your bonsai is of another species, how to find the right pottery.

So, if you associate this notion with certain criteria in the design of your bonsai, it will be easier for you to find your pot according to these criteria and it is your tree which will be the big winner, because it will be highlighted.

Arbre féminin
Image CSCeramique
Arbre masculin
Image CSCeramique

How to choose a pot for a female gender tree?

If your tree has curvy lines and is not massive, you probably have a female gender tree. Very often these trees have very light rooting, trunk and branch lines that are not aggressive, and light foliage.

Appropriate pottery for these trees are round, oval, or lotus-style pots. They can have a convex or concave shape cut. These pots should represent delicacy, finesse and lightness. Pots can have designs engraved on the cup such as flowers, designs that represent leaves, etc.

For deciduous tree, we use smooth textures with a color that will bring out an aspect of the tree. Colors like blue, beige, green or gray are often used for these trees.

CSCeramique #1703116
Pot for deciduous tree female gender

For conifers, we will always use the natural colors of clay such as dark brown and terracotta.

CSCeramique #1701091
Pot for conifer tree female gender

In both cases, more open cuts can be used. If your tree is very delicate, you can have a cut with sculpted legs and higher this will give your tree an even more feminine side.

How to choose a pot for a tree of the masculine gender?

If you have a tree with straighter lines, sharp changes in direction, a massive and very triangular trunk and foliage, a very powerful nebari, a tree with dead wood, or “jins” you have a tree of the genus male.

The pots used for these trees are made of straight, angled lines. Square or rectangular shaped pots are very suitable for these trees.

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Pot for conifer of the masculine gender

In this style, your pot should have standard legs without patterns which will reinforce the masculine side of the pot.

For conifers, rough textures can be used on the cut to reinforce the texture of the trunk.

For deciduous trees, you can use darker colors on the cut.  Avoid using pots with images or patterns.

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Pot for deciduous trees of the masculine gender

But in life not everything is black or white, there are also gray areas… And that’s where it gets complicated. It is quite possible that the image of your bonsai certainly has characteristics of the feminine and also masculine gender.

What to do in this case?

Analyze your tree and look at the dominant characters. If your tree is more masculine than feminine, it would still be possible to use masculine-style pottery, but with some feminine traits.

Example: If your tree is massive, but with gentle curves in the line of the trunk, your branches are graceful, but with heavy foliage, it has veins of dead wood that meanders down the trunk, then it would be thinkable to use a rectangular pot with a convex cut or a pot that would have rounded corners in order to also represent this feminine side.

You can add some one of a kind elements in your pot choice depending on the look of your bonsai.

It is always better to choose the right pottery for your bonsai than to choose a pot that meets established standards. Never forget that it is your tree and that you will contemplate it every day.

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