July 24, 2021

Choosing The Right Bonsai Pot

Choosing the bonsai pot is one of the first things bonsai hobbyists look at when buying a bonsai. It can be confusing especially for beginners in bonsai. There are several bonsai pots available and choosing one that you like not only depends on your preferences but also on how much you want to spend.

We will look at bonsai pots made of different materials and the bonsai pot sizes available to bonsaists.

Bonsai Pots Made Of Different Materials

There are bonsai pots made of several materials such as wood, metal, ceramic and plastic.

1. In bonsai pots, ceramic is the most popular material

2. Ceramic pots are usually made from clay and fired at a high temperature to create hard, durable pieces

3. Clay pots can also be glazed with different colors or patterns to make them more interesting

4. Plastic bonsai containers are often used when plants need to be moved indoors for the winter because they’re lightweight and easy to clean in case of spills

5. Wooden bonsai planters offer an earthy tone that pairs well with natural materials like stones and bamboo stalks

6. Bamboo pots are great for keeping your plant’s roots moist while it grows taller than other types of pot would allow

Why Is Drainage Important In Your Bonsai Pot?

1. What is drainage in a pot and why do I need it?

Bonsai should be planted in bonsai pots that allow water to drain from the soil while keeping bonsai tree roots and bonsai soil healthy

The bonsai pot drainage holes are located on the bottom of bonsai pots so that excess water can escape easily.

Benefits of having drainage in your pot include:

  • Less likely to promote root rot during the wetter seasons of fall and spring
  • Allows drainage of excess water from plant pots that may cause root rot in bonsai trees
  • Easier for you when watering your plants because once you have added water, it will naturally drain through the bottom holes of the bonsai pot.

How to make sure that your pot has the right amount of drainage holes for you

Most bonsai pots come with pre-drilled holes in different sizes that are intended to drain as much water from the pot as possible while still keeping your plant’s roots healthy.

Bonsai hobbyists should not use extra drainage holes just for looks because it will make too many holes and cause more water to drain.

When to put your plant into its new home 

When you have adequate holes in your pot, covered the drainage holes with mesh and or rocks and have the best soil in the pot.

Why you should use organic material only when filling up the pot’s hole with soil or other things like rocks, sand, etc…

The common ingredients in bonsai soil are akadama, pumice, lava rock, organic potting compost and fine gravel. Ideal bonsai soil should be pH neutral, neither acidic nor basic. A pH between 6.5-7.5 is ideal

You should not use clay balls because they will break down over time and release toxins into the soil that can be harmful to plants as well as humans

It is important to put stones on top of clay balls before planting anything so it doesn’t break down too quickly

 Types of materials that are best for draining water from bonsai pots (i.e., gravel, pebbles, small rocks).

Soil mixes are described as being either organic or inorganic. Dead plant matters such as peat, leaf-litter, or bark are described as being organic soil components.

The potential problem with organic soil components is that organic matter breaks down and reduces drainage over time. Some organic components deteriorate at varying speeds, so it’s hard to say how quickly organic soil becomes harmful.

If you’re adamant about using an organic soil mix, we recommend choosing a mixture that uses pine bark. Most potting composts absorb water very poorly once they are completely dry.

This is one of the biggest problems for cheap indoor Bonsai trees purchased at garden centers. You’d think you watered the tree but the water runs past the soil into the bottom of the pot!

Inorganic soil components contain little to no organic matter such as volcanic lava, calcite, and baked/fired clays. They absorb fewer nutrients and water than organic soils but are great for drainage and aeration. The limited absorption capacity also gives us more control over the amount of fertilizer in the soil.

Soil components

The most common components for Bonsai soil mixtures are Akadama, Pumice, Lava rock, organic potting compost, and fine gravel also known as grit.


The material your pot is made of can have a big impact on the health and wellbeing of your bonsai.

For example, ceramic pots are porous and will allow water to drain more quickly than clay or plastic ones.

Clay pots offer excellent insulation for plants that require cool temperatures such as azaleas. Plastic pots may be lightweight but they don’t offer much protection from insects or heat damage so should only be used with plant species that grow well in warm climates like cacti and succulents.

If you need help determining which type of container is best suited for your needs then we encourage you to subscribe to our newsletter where we provide monthly care tips, gardening advice, outdoor living inspiration, home decorating ideas plus lots more!

About the author 

Greg Reed

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