Updated: Sep 28, 2021
Oh man this is the part of Bonsai every Artist and Enthusiast loves, Acclimating your tree into its new home A.K.A The Bonsai Pot.
There is so much that has happened in your Bonsai's journey before this point in its life and with all that has happened you want to ensure success when moving your Bonsai from its current growing medium to a Bonsai Pot. Preparing a Bonsai Pot might seem like a simple and straight forward task and maybe be often over looked or seen as a less important detail.
There are certain elements in Pot Preparation that are vital to your tree's success in its new environment so lets take a look at what they are below.
The techniques i share with you are my particular way of doing this and the way i have learnt, like the old saying " There are many ways to skin a cat " this applies here. As long as you take in the fundamentals and learn why each step is taken then you can put this into your practise and maybe even create your own workflow when it comes to Pot Preparation.
Lets get Stuck in.
This seems like an obvious step but there can be critical mistake made here.
For example you could choose a pot that is far to shallow for the species of tree you have or the complete opposite. If you ended up with a pot that was too deep or too large for your tree then you could end up with soil that wont dry quick enough and cause problems down the road, Not to mention a pot that is too big or too small for a tree is aesthetically unpleasant.
I cant tell you which pot exactly to choose or this post would be the size of a phone book!
BUT! i can give you a few things to consider..
Consider the following aspects of a pot when choosing for your tree
1. Size ( Try not too get a pot that is either oversized or undersized )
2. Colour ( Glazed, Unglazed, Dark Clay or something with nice art work )
3. Shape ( depending on the style of your tree this usually tells you what shape pot you might need )
4. Drainage ( if your species needs alot of drainage choose a pot with ample drainage holes )
5. Wire Holes ( pots with wire holes make anchoring a tree a breeze and allows you to get a tighter anchor and less movement on your tree )
6. Try to support local Ceramicists. This isn't a rule nor an obligation but supporting your local pot makers keeps this Hobby thriving in all aspects and generally the pots coming from artists are far nicer then production pots made by the 1000's.
Now that you have chosen your pot lets get down to Preparing it for your tree!
Here is a list of items you will need.
Mesh ( Although The Photos Show Fly Screen I Recommend Something With Better Drainage, i used fly screen for a few years but have since seen better results with better draining mesh. )
Smaller gauge wire ( to anchor tree )
Now that we have our tools we can begin the work.
Cut your mesh just a little bigger then your drainage holes and lay them over the holes on the inside of the pot.
Now we want to secure the mesh down using some of our small gauge wire, We don't want to use too small of a gauge otherwise the wire will be able to be pulled through from the outside, we don't want to use wire that is too thick either as we want to try keep the drainage holes as free flowing as possible.
How you tie the mesh down is up to you, You can either create a butterfly by twisting the wire opposite ways
or you can use a simple U shape pictured
Why do we put mesh over the holes?
This serves a few purposes some more important then others. The main purpose is too stop bugs and insects being able to get into the pot through the drainage holes and living within your pots soil often times causing havoc on your trees root system. The mesh also prevents coarser soils falling out of the pot through the holes. You don't want to use mesh that is too fine as this will cause clogging if your soil isn't very coarse. The last thing you want is water log due to your drainage holes being clogged. The mesh can also stop roots from growing out the bottom of the pot and air pruning them selves. it is ideal for your roots to stay within the pot and to rectify any root growth issues with re potting when needed.
Now we want to add our wire for anchoring down the tree. There are a few ways to go about this and it will all depend on how many holes your pot has to offer.
Here i will show you methods for a single hole, 2 holes, and 4 purpose made wire holes.
First lets tackle a pot with
A Single Hole,
This can be tricky as everything has to go through the 1 hole all the while we are trying not to plug that single hole up. A single hole can make anchoring a tree tricky but i will show you a simple method i use.
First of all you want to cut a fairly thick piece of wire just a little bit longer then the holes diameter. This will be used to secure your anchor wire.
Next we want too cut our anchor wire ensuring you cut enough to be able to wrap around the trees base at least once and be tightened down.
Once you have your wire cut feed it through the drainage hole from the bottom of the pot,
as your wire is about to be pulled all the way through put in your thick piece of wire you cut earlier to help anchor your wire to the bottom of the pot.
Now that your wire is pulled through push it across the bottom of the pot and up the side making the wire take the shape of the pot, this leave you plenty of room to get your tree and its root system in the pot.
A pot with 2 holes is far easier then a pot with 1. for this method measure out your piece of wire ensuring you have enough to run from hole to hole and also wrap around the trees base at least once.
Once you have your wire cut place it on the bottom of your pot and place the middle of your wire between the 2 holes ensuring even length. We can now bend 2 90 deg turns at each hole.
Once this is done we can now feed the wire through the 2 holes and pull it up until it is flush against the bottom side of the pot.
Bend your wire across the bottom of the pot and up the side walls to take the shape of the pot leaving room for your tree.
4 Purpose Made Wire Holes
This is the easiest method of all especially once it comes to anchoring the tree down which will be covered in another post. For this method we want to cut 2 lengths of wire, 1 for each set of holes. The same method here is used as we did for the 2 Hole pot. Cut your wire at the correct length, put your wire across the holes at an even length and bend the wire at 90deg at each hole.
Once your 2 pieces of wire are bent you can now feed them though the wire holes and bend the wire inside the pot to take the shape of the bottom and side walls of the pot.
Now that our anchor wires are complete why do we need them?
Anchoring down a tree is important as it stops movement of the tree inside the pot disturbing the root system especially in strong winds or when handling the tree and pot. It also stop the tree from plain falling out of the pot, When a tree is freshly planted in a new pot it has no support from its root system until the roots grow within the pot creating a hold on the pot. This can also help stop pets, young children and various creatures from pulling the tree out of the pot. If your child gives the trunk a good yank you'll be glad your wired the tree in!
And thats about it! We have now prepared our Bonsai Pot for our Bonsai Tree we know why we prepare the pot in this manner!
I hope you enjoyed this and can use these tips in your own practise.
In our next post we will discuss properly anchoring down a tree.
Till then enjoy potting up your Bonsai!
If you want to further your education check out our Master Class Series Online Bonsai Course! https://www.bonsai-en.com.au/master-class-series