Part 1 of our Japanese bonsai pot guide! Match your tree to a pot!

Welcome to our Japanese bonsai pot guide!

Here you will find Part 1 of a 2 Part guide on all things potty....... !

In the world of bonsai, the pot is just as important as the tree itself. Definitively, the word itself, bonsai, means tree in a pot, so it comes as no surprise that the pot itself comprises 50% of the aesthetic appeal.

The very process of dwarfing a tree relies on the constraint of it's roots in it's pot. This restrains the tree's growth, leaving the tree to retain a small, dwarfed size.

In Western civilisation there has been a surge of popularity around Japanese bonsai in particular. Japanese pot makers at Tokoname, Yama aki and Bizen have never enjoyed so much business! Why? Because the Japanese bonsai pot is thought of as among the best in the business!

Before choosing a pot in which to house your bonsai, we would like to guide you towards making good, educated choices! The human eye is the best judge, but will always be your biggest critic!

First and foremost, choose your pot carefully! If your aesthetic senses are not fully developed, which is fine - this can take ages, try and locate an antique Chinese or Japanese bonsai pot...... They are aesthetically pleasing and will suit many bonsai specimens. If this is impossible, or beneath your skill level, you can make your own, but more on this in Part 2!

So, what makes a good bonsai pot, or in particular a good chinese or Japanese bonsai pot?

Before continuing, have you seen our guides on bonsai history and the art in our bonsai tree information section?

Read on...........

Choosing Your Pot

Rectangular Pot

Mainly for powerful, thick and heavier trees with thick trunks and branches

Round Pot

Fragile and thinner looking trees - literati

Oval Pot

For forest plantings

Square Pot

For Literati styles

Hexagonal & Octagonal

for Literati styles with symmetry


For windswept and driftwood styles

A few examples..........

japanese bonsai pot 1

Deep, round, outward pointing, glazed


Shallow, round, outward pointing, unglazed with feet


Small, oval, inward pointing, glazed


Shallow, round, outward pointing, unglazed

Texture & Glaze

As a rough guide you should plant evergreens in an unglazed brown or dark-coloured Chinese bonsai pot, or the same Japanese bonsai pot. You will mostly find deciduous trees in glazed pots. Also, the texture of the pot will come into play, and again, as a rough guide, rough textured and older, antique pots are great for older trees, whist smooth and more modern pots are great for younger, colourful trees.

Lip Shape & Feet

The lips of bonsai pots are fairly important for your tree's aesthetic appeal. Lips vary from wide, narrow, outward and inward pointing, hard or soft in appearance, curved to straight. All lip shapes will impact the vibe of your tree so choose carefully! We like to use outward pointing lips for powerful looking trees, and straight for smaller more intricate trees like the Juniper.

Now, lets have a look at style matching! Remember to read our article on bonsai shaping to learn the various styles!


Pot & Style Matching Guide!

Formal Upright - Medium/deep rectangular or oval. Varies in accordance with trunk thickness

Informal Upright & Coiled - Medium/deep rectangular, oval or round. Varies in accordance with trunk size

Slanting - Medium depth rectangular or oval

Windswept - Medium depth rectangular, rough-textured and unglazed

Cascade/Semi-Cascade - Deep square, hexagonal or octagonal

Literati - Medium depth circular, inward pointing lip, square, hexagonal, unglazed

Broom - Medium/shallow oval or round

Weeping - Medium-depth square, hexagonal, round or octagonal

Root Over Rock - Medium/deep rectangular, oval or round

Split-trunk & Driftwood - Medium/deep rectangular or modern, unglazed

Multiple Trunks - See Medium/deep rectangular, round or oval. Varies in accordance with trunk size

Forest - Shallow oval or stone slab

Landscape - Shallow oval, rectangular or stone slab, unglazed

Leave Japanese bonsai pot guide Part 1 and Head back to Bonsai Care!