What Are Bonsai Pots Made Of?

Bonsai pots are most commonly made of plastic, mica, and various types of clay – including porcelain, ceramic and stoneware. The material used will affect the price of the bonsai pot and, while some materials are more affordable than others, they can be harmful to the plant.

It’s a question that we don’t put much thought into but, if you’re starting to take an interest in the world of gardening, it is essential to know what your plant pots are made of. This is of particular importance to bonsai trees, which will only thrive in the correct pot (in both shape and material). 

A bonsai tree can be a lifelong companion if it’s taken care of correctly, including if it’s housed in a pot made from the right material. Keep reading to figure out which type of bonsai pot will be most suitable for your plant.

Plastic

Plastic bonsai pots

Plastic bonsai pots are often passed over because they lack aesthetic appeal, which is considered to be an important factor. However, plastic is by far the most affordable material for bonsai pots, and it can even be a favourable option when your bonsai is in training.

Gardening enthusiasts will often use plastic pots as a starter home for their bonsai, to later transfer them to a sturdier shallow pot. The plastic pot will help your bonsai to establish a wide yet shallow root system, and ensure that it doesn’t grow larger than intended. 

Advantages of Plastic Pots

  • They are by far the cheapest option when growing your own bonsai – you will likely be able to find multipacks for less than $10!
  • They’re very lightweight, which makes it easier to transport particularly heavy trees.
  • Plastic tends to better encourage plant growth when your bonsai is “in training” (young and still growing), helping it to develop an established root system.

Disadvantages of Plastic Pots

  • As already mentioned, plastic pots lack aesthetic appeal. Bonsai enthusiasts place a lot of value in the look of a bonsai pot and how it complements the tree’s shape, size, etc. 
  • Plastic tends to retain more water than other materials, meaning that there’s an increased risk of over-watering your plant; this can lead to root rot and the eventual death of your bonsai.  
  • If placed in consistently high temperatures, plastic pots have the potential to release harmful toxins such as BPA which are then absorbed by the soil – this can be very dangerous for your bonsai.
  • Plastic doesn’t last forever – it can crack and warp/lose its shape over time. While it may be good for bonsais that are still in training, it’s not an efficient long-term option. 

If you think that plastic bonsai pots might be the right option for you, you should consider the 3 pack of growneer pots.

These pots are specifically marked as suitable for starter bonsais and the plastic used is environmentally friendly. 

Mica

Mica bonsai pots are normally made from 80% mica, 15% polyethylene and 5% graphite and can also be used for starter bonsais as a more durable alternative to plastic. However, bonsai enthusiasts often bicker back and forth over whether mica pots are worth the hefty price tag. 

Advantages of Mica Pots

  • They’re much more durable than plastic and, unlike ceramic, they don’t crack in frosty weather. Mica pots will remain intact even if they’re blown over or dropped from a height. 
  • They have the look of more expensive bonsai pots but are a more affordable alternative.
  • Mica has good heat control – there is enough insulation to help your bonsai grow, but not so much that it could overheat.

Disadvantages of Mica Pots

  • There isn’t much choice in terms of aesthetics; mica pots only come in one colour (dark brown), which might limit the creative vision you have for your plant.
  • There can be huge price discrepancies, and you must be careful when shopping for mica bonsai pos because you may be able to get one made from better quality material (like ceramic) for the same price. 
  • Thermal quality means that they may not be suitable in particularly hot climates.

The oval mica bonsai pot is a great option if you wish to go for mica. The pot is designed specifically to enhance the aesthetic value of your bonsai tree, and it’s also available in a number of different sizes.

You might be interested in this article about: Why Are Bonsai Pots So Expensive?

Clay

Clay bonsai pots

Clay is the material used for traditional Japanese and Chinese bonsai pots; after being carved and shaped (whether on a pottery wheel or with bare hands), the pots are fired in a kiln to make them sturdy, as well as preventing them from absorbing moisture when you water your bonsai. If you have a flair for the creative, you can even try making a clay bonsai pot yourself. 

What Types of Clay Can a Bonsai Pot Be Made From?

There are numerous types of clay, but these are some of the most common types that are used to make bonsai pots. 

  • Stoneware – this has a rough stone-like texture when it’s kiln-fired, hence its name. It’s grey in colour and does not need to be glazed, because it is naturally waterproof after kiln firing. 
  • Porcelain – this has a smoother and shinier texture as well as being very durable. Porcelain tends to not absorb as much water as other clay types, which can potentially be good for keeping the soil of your bonsai tree moist. 
  • Earthenware – this clay type is usually the most suitable for plant pots due to its high porosity; however, this also means that earthenware pots must be glazed so they are waterproof. It is usually kiln-fired at lower temperatures than stoneware or porcelain.

Advantages of Clay Bonsai Pots

  • Clay pots are normally handmade and can be crafted specifically to complement the shape and size of your bonsai – they are much more unique than plastic or mica pots.
  • Traditional Japanese pottery techniques. (like kurinuki) can help to improve your bonsai’s health.
  • Depending on the clay type, your pot can come glazed or unglazed; this gives you more opportunities when it comes to aesthetics.
  • They’re good for areas with extreme temperature fluctuations; clay pots can protect the soil from becoming either too hot or too cold.
  • They’re heavy enough that it’s near impossible for them to be blown over in the wind.

Disadvantages of Clay Pots 

  • They’re prone to cracking in frosty weather.
  • Clay isn’t particularly flexible, and can be easily broken during repotting etc. 
  • In hot weather they release lots of moisture, meaning you will have to water your bonsai more often (clay pots are better suited for plants that prefer dry soil).
  • They can be expensive, especially Tokoname pots or ones that have a very intricate design.

The Yishang Terracotta Clay Pots are relatively inexpensive, and are shallow enough to be a happy home for your bonsai.

They are kiln-fired at high temperatures and each package must pass a three-foot drop test before shipping, ensuring that you’re getting the best quality. There’s also a drainage hole at the base which will help your bonsai to thrive.

Final Thoughts

Bonsai trees can be a very worthwhile gardening project, and you can take pride in watching yours grow over time.

If you’re passionate about making your bonsai as healthy as possible, it’s vital that you choose a bonsai pot that’s made from the right material. Good luck on your gardening journey!

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