When you stop and think about bonsai pots, you will quickly realise that there is an almost infinite number of different shapes you can get.
I will try and go through some of the more common ones you can get, but the next time you are looking at some trees stop and notice all the different pot shapes.
Of course there are different, textures, clay types and colour too, but here I will mainly be going through the different shapes you can get.
There Are 2 Main Shapes Of Bonsai Pot
While there are a lot of different styles and shapes, I think you can place every pot into one of two categories.
Those that have more rounded edges or those that have more squared angles.
You could also describe these as either Feminine or Masculine. This actually ties in with the tree itself, which can also be classes as one of these two styles.
Ideally you want a masculine tree in a masculine pot, which would be one that has squared angles and then you would want to put a feminine tree in a feminine pot, which would be the more rounded shaped pots.
As with all things this is not set in stone and you can mix things around. You may also find that some of the pots themselves may be a bit of both, they may be rounded with sharp angles, or they may be quite square, with rounded edges.
This is the beauty of bonsai, there is always going to be a pot that has the perfect shape for your tree. You just have to find it.
(You can read more about – What Is The Difference Between Masculine And Feminine Bonsai?)
You Can Get Different Sizes
I guess size is a type of “shape” and bonsai pots comes in all sorts of sizes.
You can usually find the exactly same pot in a number of different sizes. This is especially common with the cheaper pots. These are usually made with moulds, so they can usually just make the same mould …just in a different size.
The reality is that a pot can be made to any size and you can actually have one custom made to your exact specifications if you require.
You Can Get Pots With Different Thickness
A part of the shape that we often overlook is the thickness of the pot. This really comes down to what materials are used and how good the potter is but there can be a significant difference between pots.
This doesn’t make a huge difference, but it can matter. Some pots do have very thick walls and they just look bulky and heavy and might not look right with certain trees.
A lot of this will be down to the general shape and style of the pot, but the thickness of the walls can play its role so it is worth looking at.
A classic example of this is homemade concrete pots. They are always a decent shape, but they always looks too thick and there is just something about them that doesn’t look right …and it will be down to that extra thickness.
Look At The General Shape Of The Bonsai Pot
I’ve already touched on this when mentioning the angles of the side of the pot, but if you look at a pot from above, you will also see they also have a number of different shapes.
You have the more rounded shape, such as circles or ovals and then there is the more square or rectangle shapes.
You also have a sort or in between shape where the circumference of the pot is crimped in, which is the cloud shape. You can various levels of this and some pots will look more round and some will be squarer.
The Height Of The Pot Can Be Different
If you look at the height of bonsai pots, you can see that they can be very different. You can get very shallow pots and then very deep ones and everything in between.
The goal of bonsai is to get your tree into a shallow pot, but that doesn’t always mean you need a shallow bonsai pot. Even a “deep” pot can be a lot shallower that the average flower pot. Really the depth you need will depend on the size of the tree and the size of the root ball.
The style of the tree can also affect what pot depth you go for. If you look at cascade tree it actually needs a very tall pot, so that it can cascade down the side of it.
The Shape Of The Sides Can Be Different
I have just mentioned the depth of the pot and how this can be different, but if you look closely you can see how this depth is achieved through different angles.
The side of the pot can slope down from the top to the bottom in a number of different ways. They can drop down and be very straight or slowly curve down and inwards in any number of different angles.
You can even get pots that will fan out in the middle, giving the pot a more spherical feel.
Having the walls be different shape like this can actually give the inside of the pot more space. This can be a clever way of making more or less space while not changing the height of the pot.
You can reduce the overall height of the pot, but make more room by pushing the walls out and making them more convex. The same thing could also work the other way round, where you make the pot taller, but reduce the internal space by making the walls concave.
There Are Different Types Of Feet On Bonsai Pots
Bonsai pots have so many different types of feet. There are probably as many different feet types as there is pot shapes.
Some feet look like they are part of the upper part, while others look can look more added on and the pot is resting on them. They can be all sorts of different sizes and shapes and have different levels of decoration.
The feet can be really important, they can really ground the pot and make it feel stable and just generally change the feel of its overall look.
There Can Be Different Textures
You can also get different textures, which change the shape of the pot. When I say texture, I don’t mean the texture of the clay itself. This is of course a thing, but it doesn’t really affect the shape.
I am talking more about how some pots may have a ridged line going around it, or the classic raised dots (I am sure this has a proper name, but I don’t know).
These different textures can really change how a pot looks and while its overall shape hasn’t really changed (especially inside) the outside can have a totally different look to a pot that has smooth walls.
Some Bonsai Pots Have Lips
If you look at the top of a bonsai pot you will see that they have all sorts of different lips. A lot of these lips face outward and just change the general shape of the pot.
However, you can also get internal lips …which I have no idea why these exist. They do not change the shape of how the pot looks, but they certainly change the function of it. An internal lip can be a nightmare as it makes getting a tree out of the pot very difficult.
Roots will grow under the lip and then the tree basically gets jammed in and the only way get the tree out is to cut these roots off while the tree is still in the pot. I am sure there is a reason why they are made this way, I have just never heard an explanation.
I strongly believe these types of pots are made by people who do not work on bonsai trees themselves. If they did, they would know how annoying they are and wouldn’t make it this way.
You Can Get Different Drainage Holes
Drainage holes do not really affect the overall shape or aesthetics, but it is still an important feature and is something you should look at.
So long as your pot has some sort of drainage hole it should be fine. If it is an actual bonsai pot, then it will have these.
(You can read more about – Why Do Bonsai Pots Have Drainage Holes?)
You Can Get Any Combination Of All Of These Things
When you start looking around at different pots you will realise that you can basically find so many different combinations of all the features I have spoke about above.
There really is an endless amount of shapes due to all the different combinations you could have.
Then when you start adding on the next layers of aesthetics, such as different materials, colours and glazes, you can really see that there is an unlimited amount of different pots available.
(You can read more about – How Are Bonsai Pots Made? (The Complete Journey Of Clay Through The Production Process))
Some Examples Of The Differences In Bonsai Pots
As I’ve already said there is an unlimited amount, but I will compare some pots so that you can start to get an idea of how different they really can be.
The pots above are a similar shape, colour and size with probably a similar material, but there is still a huge amount of difference between them.
The pot on the left has a lip, the one on the right doesn’t. Also look at the texture of the pot on the right, it has that classic raised rectangle panel on the side, where as the pot on the left is smooth.
Also look at the edge where it slopes down, the left is a very subtle curve, especially under the lip. It can be hard to see, but it is very clear when you compare it to the pot on the right, which slopes straight down from top to bottom. Then when you get to the bottom, you can see the both have very different feet which changes how high the pot is off the ground, which makes a visual difference.
These two pots are very similar… but very different and its small things like this that you need to look at when thinking about buying a pot.
Slates/Slab Style Bonsai Pots
I’m not sure if these count as “pots” but slabs and slates are an option.
These can also come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes and are a pretty cool alternative to the usual bonsai pots.
They are a pretty advances technique and aesthetic, but they do look great. There is nothing wrong with using a normal pot for years, then deciding you want to use a slab, so they are always worth considering, even if you don’t use one right away.
What Is The Best Shape Bonsai Pot To Get?
When it comes to the “best” shape there are a few things you need to consider. Really you need to ask if the tree and pot work well together and if they complement each other. You want to use a pot that reflects the shape and colours of the tree.
However, the most important factor is that you need to like it and really that is what it all boils down to.
If you like the shape and you think it looks good with your tree, then this is the best pot for you. Don’t worry too much about what anyone else says. You can certainly take their view on board, but if you like it, do it.
(you can read more about – Where Can You Buy Bonsai Pots?)
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