Bonsai trees are a beautiful addition to any home or garden and are surprisingly easy to care for. If yours is cared for correctly, it can live for decades and become a lifelong companion.
However, they are also costly, and your ideal bonsai pot will likely put a dent in your wallet. Why is this, exactly?
If you invest in the right bonsai pot, your plant friend will return the favor by blossoming into a beautiful miniature tree. Keep reading to find out what makes a bonsai pot so expensive, and why they are a worthy investment.
Each Pot Has a Unique, Purpose-Driven Design
Unlike other plant pots, bonsai pots usually aren’t mass-produced with one identical design on millions of products. Rather, every aspect of a bonsai pot is designed to either enhance the appearance of the tree or to encourage growth and longevity in the plant.
The following are ideal characteristics of a bonsai pot.
Plenty of Space
The bonsai tree’s roots must have enough space to grow. If there is not sufficient space, the bonsai will not thrive and may even die if left in these conditions for too long.
Bonsai translates to “plant in a tray” in Japanese and is a reference to the shallow pots that bonsai trees should be grown in. Having a shallow pot serves two separate purposes:
- Aesthetically, the tree will appear like it’s growing directly from its surroundings
- It’s easier to keep the soil moist and stops the bonsai from growing too large, meaning a longer and healthier life for the plant
Complements the Shape of the Bonsai Tree
Bonsai trees are either masculine or feminine in appearance. While it sounds odd to attribute human characteristics to plants, it makes it easy to choose the right pot for your bonsai.
- A masculine bonsai has a thick trunk and plenty of foliage, with a sharp, angular outline. Its pot should be dark in colour with a lipped rim and sharp angles.
- A feminine bonsai has a thin trunk with smoother bark, and its outline is softer/more curved. Its pot should be smooth and low, with visually unobtrusive feet.
Additionally, different shaped pots will hold different bonsai types better.
- Round pots are best for semi-cascade and cascade style bonsais
- Rectangular pots work well for bonsais that have straight trunks
- A pot with rounded corners is best for a curved-trunk bonsai
- Square pots are the least common shape and aren’t normally used for traditional bonsai
In addition to these factors, your bonsai tree may have unique requirements. The only way to truly ensure your plant is getting everything it needs is to have a bonsai pot custom made and, like any custom product, this can be pricey.
They’re Difficult to Make
The majority of bonsai pots are handmade by experienced craftsmen, who have years of knowledge in how the bonsai pot supports your plant. Different species of bonsai will thrive better in pots with certain materials etc., and the makers of these pots understand the needs of each bonsai.
Here are a few examples of the materials and techniques used for different bonsai pots:
- Tokohame pots originate in the Tokohame region of Japan and use iron-rich clay, giving them a distinctive red colour. Sea salt is used during the cooking process to achieve the characteristic smooth finish.
- Many bonsai pots incorporate the kurinuki technique – a traditional Japanese pottery method where one solid block of clay is gradually hollowed out to make a pot.
A well-made bonsai pot will be expertly crafted not to crack or freeze in the winter, and designed to optimise the bonsai tree’s growth. A craftsman can spend many hours on a single pot, and you’re paying for this talent and effort.
Antiques and Rare Pots Will Cost More
Nowadays you can get factory-produced bonsai pots for relatively cheap, but antiques exist that are considerably more expensive.
Usually made in China or Japan, vintage/antique bonsai pots can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. However, the upside is that antiques will increase in value as time passes and, if you want to sell an antique at a later date, it will probably be worth more than what you paid for it (provided it’s in pristine condition).
Additionally, rare breeds of bonsai trees will require more expensive pots – this is a simple case of supply and demand. It may also be the case that the pot itself is rare and therefore expensive (perhaps made by a popular craftsman, or possessing historical value.
Here is a great article about how long it takes to grow a bonsai tree.
They Must Be a Specific Size
The size of your bonsai tree will determine the size of pot it needs, and an ill-fitting home can be a matter of life or death for your bonsai. As already mentioned there needs to be enough space for the roots to grow, but the root tips must also be able to draw in water and nutrients from the soil.
It stands to reason that the bigger the bonsai pot, the more expensive it will be. This is a necessary investment, though, because without sufficient space to grow a bonsai tree will die.
Here are some of the size requirements for your bonsai pot:
- The length should be around 2/3 of the bonsai tree’s height; if the tree’s width is greater than its height, the pot’s length should be 2/3 of the tree’s width
- The width of the pot should be slightly less than the span of the longest branches on each side
Size should be your biggest concern when choosing a bonsai pot, and this can have a significant impact on the price.
Affordable Bonsai Pots
Here are just a few examples of some fairly inexpensive bonsai pots that can still help your plant to flourish.
MUZHI Rustic Ceramic Bonsai Pot
This is a handmade pot with unglazed ceramic, allowing the soil to be breathable. Its neutral solid colour also makes it suitable for various bonsai types, while the vintage rustic style allows your plant to blend in seamlessly with its surroundings. The pot also boasts a wide and shallow shape. Check it out here if you’re interested in one.
ARTKETTY Large Round Bonsai Pot
The ARTKETTY pot comes with a bamboo tray to catch drippings from your plant, while the drainage hole at the base gives your bonsai some breathability. It’s cooked in high temperatures and given a glazed finish, giving it a beautifully smooth appearance. There are nine different colours available, so you’re spoilt for choice. Check it out here if you’re interested in one.
Kilofly Happy Bonsai Mini Glazed Pots
There are four pots of different shapes and depths in this set, making it great value. Their small size makes them ideal for miniature bonsai trees, and they come a mesh screen for each pot which helps with drainage. Check it out here if you’re interested in one.
MMBOX Succulent Plant Pots
Coming in sets of two, these bonsai pots are thick enough to give plenty of protection to your little green friend. Their minimalist design means they’ll also blend in seamlessly anywhere around your home and, like the ARTKETTY pot, they include a bamboo tray which stops water from pooling on the surface underneath. Check it out here if you’re interested in one.
At first glance it can be difficult to understand why bonsai pots are so expensive, especially when comparing them to other types of plant pots.
Hopefully this article has helped you to understand the expertise and craftsmanship that goes into them, and you now feel more ready to start the journey of growing your own bonsai tree.