Choosing a bonsai pot

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By aaron

Size and proportion
- The pot should be in proportion to the tree size, but you also must consider the health of the tree. It must be large enough to store an adequate amount of moisture, and this can be different depending on the species of tree.
- A very general guideline: For a mainly vertical tree, the width of the pot should be 2/3 to 3/4 of the tree's height. For a horizontal tree, the pot should be 2/3 to 3/4 of the tree's width.
- Keep in mind that a new tree will quickly gain mass, so keep that in mind when planning proportions and consider using a slightly larger pot so the tree can grow into it.
- The pot is usually shallow and wide, although some tree styles might call for a different pot shape.
- Usually, subtle earth tones are preferred for bonsai. The pot should harmonize with the tree, not overpower it.
- Fruiting trees often need bigger pots to balance the visual weight of the fruit and to store enough moisture to create abundant fruits.

Design characteristics
- The design of the pot should match the design of the tree. If the tree is informal, the pot should match. A rugged forest tree should probably use a more earthy pot.
- The mass of the tree should be in visual balance with the size of the pot.
- Remember that trees change throughout the seasons. Leaf color, flowers, and fruiting can change the visual characteristics of the tree.
- In general, sharp corners are more formal, while round or oval pots are less formal.
- Match the design of the tree with the pot. A round tree should be in a round pot, a more angular tree should be in a pot with more angles and edges.

Position of the tree within the pot
- Don't automatically put the tree in the middle. Placing it off center can make it look more natural.
- The tree usually should be centered in the front-to-back dimension.
- The focal point of the tree should be above the midpoint of the pot. So if the tree has a large branch out the left side, move the tree toward the right side of the pot.
- Think of the pot like a picture frame. The flow of the tree should keep the eye within the composition and contained inside the boundaries of the pot. There are exceptions to this, especially with the cascade style of growth.
- Try to avoid perfect symmetry, especially with group plantings. Perfect symmetry doesn't look natural.
- Consider the use of "white space", or the empty space around the tree. There should be balance and harmony.

#bonsai

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