Small Bonsai Pottery for Plants


Bonsai trees grow in small pots. Traditionally, bonsai pots are clay, with fine pots costing hundreds of dollars. Bonsai pots should suit the shape, color, and final style of the tree. Common tree styles suitable for small bonsai pots include formal upright, informal upright, and cascading. By pairing the pot to the tree, you can create a pleasing visual balance of pot and tree.


Bonsai originated in China as an art created to make miniature landscapes of different parts of China for the emperor. Early in its history, bonsai was for the exclusive enjoyment of the emperor. Bonsai was prohibited for commoners. As time went on, the limits were relaxed and bonsai became popular in China. Bonsai was transferred to Japan during the Heian period (794 to 1191 A.D.). This resulted in two general styles of bonsai. Fine small pots are produced in both countries, with Chinese pots being more organic in shape and Japanese pots being more precise in shape and line.


There are two general classes of bonsai pot. Formal bonsai pots have small feet that raise the pot above the surface on which it sits. Informal pots have no feet. Informal pots are generally unglazed, but there are exceptions. Formal pots are can be either glazed or unglazed. Formal and informal pots come in a variety of shapes.


Bonsai pots come in two shape types. Pots for cascading bonsai are tall and narrow to allow the tree to gracefully drape down the side of the pot. Pots for most other types of bonsai are flat and shallow. Pots of both types come in a variety of shapes, including square, round, oval, hexagonal, and specialized shapes like lotus flowers or culturally symbolic shapes. Rectangular pots are often used for conifers and larger deciduous trees that have a wider base that tapers as the tree rises. Oval or round pots are often more suited for deciduous trees with less taper on the trunk.


Bonsai pots can be either glazed or unglazed. Unglazed pots are available in a variety of colors, especially pots from Yi Xing, China or high-end Japanese pots. Unglazed pots can be made from black, brown, red, purple or blue clay. Fine unglazed pots are generally made in the Houtoku or Tokaname districts in Japan or Yi Xing, China. However, these regions also produce glazed pots. Glazed pots suitable for bonsai are only glazed on the outside. Leaving the inside unglazed helps the pot to retain moisture between waterings. Unglazed pots often do not come with a matching tray; however, glazed pots usually have a matching tray.

Proper Size of Pot

The smaller the pot, the more it will limit the growth of your bonsai tree. When selecting a pot, consider the size of the root ball on the tree. When performing a root pruning, you can remove up to two-thirds of the roots, depending on the tree. Some trees, like pine trees, do not do well with bare rooting, so be careful of using too small a pot.

Keywords: bonsai trees, bonsai styles, bonsai pots

About this Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.