Print this page

Basics 4


Unglazed pots are generally used for conifers, although they can be used for other species. Glazed pots can be used for many deciduous, flowering and fruit bearing trees. The pot should be chosen to harmonize best with the seasonal colouring in which the tree is most beautiful. The chart below refers to some glaze colours suitable for flower, fruit, leaf or bark colour.


Characteristic Colour of the Tree    Pot Colour
White    Pastel yellow, green, celadon, faint red, light blue up to dark blue, white, very dark colours
Yellow    Dark green, dark without glaze, blue, celadon
Red    Pastel blue, dark blue, green, dirty white
Orange    Dark brown, green with or without glaze
Pink    Blue, green, white or fruit-stone colours
Blue    Red, yellow, faint white, fruit-stone colours, metal grey
Variegated or white leaves    Black or dark green
Conifers and evergreens    Brown, reddish, grey without glaze, black or faint white
Conifers (with shiny green leaves, reddish bark and deadwood)    Terracotta without glaze
Deciduous trees with soft, delicate looks   Soft grey with or without glaze


Note: Think twice before using pots with glossy or flashy glazes.


The chart above shows some characteristics that determine the optical meaning and strength of a pot. A strong tree has a thick, dominating trunk, well-defined strong branches, a rough bark texture and strong surface roots. Pots can express an active or passive feeling with their shape. These fine characteristics in the pot's visual power make it possible that e.g. a lightly and delicately looking pot makes the creation more dynamic. As a general rule, the more striking and prominent the feet, the rim or edge of a pot and the more ornamental the shape, the more active is its effect.

The passive containers are usually those that are moderate and in which the edges and feet are integrated into the total appearance of the pot. The following chart shows some shapes that are used with different styles.


Style    Pot Shape (common)    Pot Shape (also possible)
Formal upright   Rectangular, shallow or medium shallow, oval shallow or medium shallow.   Rounded shallow, square or irregular, oval irregular shallow.
Informal upright   Shallow or medium shallow, linear or oval. Shallow, irregular, oval.   Very shallow, rounded, or rounded irregular. Hexagonal, octagonal, square.
Slanting   Rectangular or oval, shallow or medium shallow. Oval irregular. Shallow rounded. Irregular rounded.   Shallow octagonal, hexagonal or square.
Semi-Cascade   Rounded, square, octagonal, hexagonal, medium deep.   Medium deep rounded irregular. Deep rounded or square.
Cascade   Deep, hexagonal, octagonal or square.   Shallow rectangular or oval, medium deep.
Broom Style   Stone slab, shallow. Shallow free shape. Rectangular or oval.   Shallow rounded, sqare, hexagonal, octagonal.
Bunjin   Shallow rounded. Shallow free shape.   Shallow oval or rechtangular.
Twin trunk   Shallow or medium shallow, oval or rectangular. Stone slab.   Shallow or medium shallow, rounded or square.
Clump   Shallow or medium shallow, square, hexagonal, octagonal, lotus flower shape. Stone slab. Shallow rectangular or oval.   Medium deep rounded, square, hexagonal.
Raft   Shallow oval, rectangular. Free shape. Stone slab.    
Group planting   Shallow oval, rectangular. Free shape. Stone slab.    
Rock planting   Shallow oval or rectangular, with or without drainage holes.    
Saikai   Shallow oval or rectangular.   Special shapes.


Note: A plant container that gets narrower toward the bottom is more frost resistent than containers with vertical or curved walls. Pots with convex walls are more difficult for repotting, because the root ball has to be cut around the pot's edges in order to remove the tree from the pot.


This article was kindly provided by BONSAI ART.

Photographs: Tom Heyken, BONSAI ART grafik

Pots: Peter Krebs

Translation: Heike van Gunst

Previous page: Basics 3
Next page: Clay and Pottery