When a tree is ready for exhibit – needles plucked, wires wired – it’s time to select a show pot.
In Japan, it’s common for bonsai professionals to repot bonsai into show pots so they look their best during an exhibit. For some of the more prestigious shows, bonsai owners rent pots for exhibit. Shortly after the trees return from exhibit, they are returned to their growing pots.
Why not grow bonsai in show pots all year round? Two reasons. Sometimes show pots are worth more than the trees they contain. In extreme cases, antique Chinese pots can cost over $100,000. Growing trees in such expensive pots is an unnecessary risk when a hard freeze or an accidental slip can be so costly.
Show pots also tend to be a bit smaller than growing pots. While it’s possible to keep trees healthy in small pots, it’s far easier to keep them happy in more generously sized containers.
I like to see what a tree looks like in a given container before making a final decision. To do so, I line up a variety of pots to see how the tree looks in each. Some pots emphasize a tree’s silhouette; others, the curve of the trunk. The color of the clay can complement the bark as well as the foliage, and even small details like a pot’s “feet” have a big effect on the ensemble.
Here are photos of eight of the pots I tried with a small pine (11″) I’ll be showing in two weeks. I was surprised how many work well with the tree.
Have any favorites? Would any make you want to stay home from the exhibit? Feel free to comment – I’ll post my selection in a few days.
Pot #1 – Chinese
Pot #2 – Yamaaki
Pot #3 – Chinese
Pot #4 – Sakura
Pot #5 – Chinese
Pot #6 – Japanese
Pot #7 – Bunzan
Pot #8 – Nanban