Ceramic bonsai pots can be quite delicate and they can be broken in a number of different ways. You can drop it, the tree roots can cause it to crack and even the weather can cause your pot to break.
However, if one of your bonsai pots gets broken, it doesn’t automatically mean it is no longer usable.
There are a number of different things you can do with a broken pot, which I will go through below.
Glue The Pot Back Together
The easiest thing to do is just glue the pot back together. Although the success of this will really depend on how badly damaged the pot is.
A small amount of damage can be easily fixed, but the pot will always been weaker afterwards, so you will need to take that into consideration.
As for what glue to use, really anything designed for that purpose is going to be fine. You can use normal super glue/ gorilla glue or you can go for something like epoxy or any sort of ceramic bonding agent.
Really you just need to go to a hardware shops and see what is available.
The two thing you should really consider is if it will affect the tree afterwards … will any chemicals leach into the water and cause damage to your tree. Then secondly, will the glue you are using be able to handle getting wet once it has set, it’s not going to be ideal if the pot falls apart when you water the tree.
So long as you are happy neither of these two happen, then it’s all good.
Try The Kintsugi Method
Kintsugi is just gluing the pot back together … but in a fancy way.
When you glue a pot back together it’s ugly. You can tell it’s been broken and repaired. Kintsugi accepts this and actually celebrates it. Basically you use gold dust in the glue which allows the broken parts to stand out proudly to be displayed and appreciated.
This is a traditional way of dealing with broken ceramic in Japan and is a way of realising that imperfections can also be enjoyed and loved too. A pot that has been fixed in this way is often seen as more beautiful than it was originally. It makes it more unique and shows it has been used and has as story to tell.
If we look at the Japanese word it is 金継ぎwhich roughly translate as gold patching/joining.
The cool thing is you can do this very easily yourself. You can actually buy Kintsugi kits, but really all you need is gold dust and glue and you can make it happen.
Some people use the glue then sprinkle the dust on top, others mix the gold dust into the glue, then use it as normal.
I guess it will depend on what glue you are using so you might have to play around with it.
Personally I have never broken a pot, but I am sure it will happen eventually and when it does I am hoping to use the Kintsugi method to give it a new life. (I will also write a full guide when it happens)
Use It While Its Still Broken
Sometimes if a pot breaks, you can just keep using it.
This will totally depend on the damage and if the pot is still structurally sound. If you just have a crack or chip in the pot it probably isn’t going to affect its overall performance as such and is going to be more of an aesthetic problem.
Of course a pot that has a crack of chip can become weak and eventually break further, but there is nothing stopping you from using the pot until that time comes.
I have also seen some damaged pots being used as a sort of feature. I have seen pots with the corner missing and the soil in this area is exposed. This looks kind of strange, but the root ball is intact and doesn’t affect the trees health. The missing area is kind of like a focus point and gives the whole display a different look and feel.
It’s not to everyone’s taste, but it can look interesting. It certainly stands out.
Use The Broken Bonsai Pot For Something Else
As I have already mentioned, repairing a broken pot can leave it weaker than before so you may want to use the pot for something else.
A lot of the time the trees roots are the problem. They can put a lot of pressure on the walls of a pot as they grow outward, looking for more space. If there is any sort of weakness in the clay the force that the roots produce will eventually make this worse and break it …and if you have glued a pot back together, this is very much a weak spot.
If this is the case then you may want to use the pot for something where this won’t happen. You could plant a less aggressive root growing tree, or even go for something totally root free, such as a moss display, or even a viewing stone, which of course will never move and affect the pot.
Just Bin It
Sometimes a broken pot just belongs in the bin. This will really depend on the amount of damage and the quality of the pot but sometimes it may just be beyond repair and can’t be saved, or it may just be not worth saving for any number or reasons.
Sometimes the bin may just be the best option and that’s okay. You can’t save everything and this always gives you a good reason to go and buy a new pot.
(You can read more about – Where Can You Buy Bonsai Pots?)
Hopefully now you can see that if you break a pot it is not the end of the world. There may be life still left in the pot and with a little bit of care you can either keep using it or repurpose it.
It will of course never be perfect, and may not look the same, but you can hopefully still be able to appreciate it and enjoy it …and then if the pot is really smashed into a million pieces, then you can just buy a new one.
Buying a new pot is always fun and it will quickly make you forget about the damaged one!
Hi, I’m Ian. I discovered bonsai in 2014 and I’ve been hooked ever since. I created this site to spread all the knowledge I have acquired over the years. Don’t forget to check out my Youtube videos where I show the progress of my Bonsai