I’ve been using colanders and perforated pots like pond baskets for years to grow pines. They’re great for developing roots, they allow for frequent watering and they’re easy to find. What they aren’t great for are developing deciduous bonsai – at least, not without proper watering.
Most deciduous trees want a lot of water. Colanders excel at providing air to the roots.
I’ve used colanders for a variety of trees, but my biggest experiment using them for deciduous varieties has been with Chinese quince.
Chinese quince in a colander
Overall they’ve worked well, but I think more traditional pots would work better. Why? Because Chinese quince can wilt quickly in colanders.
Wilted Chinese quince
I’m currently watering my quince in colanders and pond baskets twice a day whereas my other deciduous trees need water only once a day.
A little bit of wilting isn’t always a big problem, but I find the trees that don’t wilt have healthier roots and grow faster.
Wilted quince foliage
The same shoot after watering
It could be that if I watered the trees even more frequently – 2-3 times per day in summer – and used a heavy layer of moss on the surface of the soil that the perforated pots would be fantastic for root development.
Colander – good when lots of air is beneficial
For people who aren’t around to water a lot, more traditional nursery containers like plastic cans or terra cotta pots might be a better option.
2-gallon nursery can
Terra cotta pots
I’m planning to transplant my quince into nursery containers this coming winter to help ensure the roots have lots of available water. I may use both terra cotta and plastic pots to see which work better, though mostly I’m looking forward to a growing season when the trees don’t wilt so easily.
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