How to choose a bonsai pot no 1 - Xavier's Ficus burtt-davyi

Updated: Jun 11, 2021

Due to popular demand we have started this series to help Bonsai artists and our loyal customers in their choice of a bonsai container. There are many factors that need to be taken into account when selecting a bonsai pot and we will be diving into the way we select a container for our trees and customers trees.

Masculine or Feminine

The main consideration in choosing a pot is to work out if the tree is masculine or feminine. This is determined by multiple characteristics of each tree, for example the nebari, trunk line, bark texture, leaf density and much more.

A tree that has characteristics of strength, power, formality, harshness, roughness and struggle can be considered masculine

A tree that has characteristics of calm, delicacy, instability, informality and finesse can be considered feminine.


Please note that these are merely guidelines and form a basis on how to break down the elements of tree and pot to help in choosing a correct Bonsai container. Every artist and bonsai enthusiast will have their own opinions and artistic flair which will create a different composition of their own.

Ficus burtt-davyi

Xavier van der Merwe

Current pot size: 26 x 19cm

Tree characteristics

Lets start by listing some of the characteristics of this tree and how they fit into the masculine or feminine approach.

  1. Nebari - Feminine, Not a very pronounced root base, not even radiating root distribution.

  2. Trunk line - Feminine, Elongated, slight angle to the ground, slender movement.

  3. Bark texture - Feminine, Smooth bark but with age will mature with more texture.

  4. Bark colour - Feminine, Light cream in colour with a light brown tint.

  5. Primary branches - Masculine, thick primary branches with acute angle to trunk. less taper and movement than the trunk. Possible improvement in future to match this.

  6. Ramification - Feminine, early stages but Ficus burtt-davyi create nice fine twiggy growth.

  7. Leaf size/density - Feminine, leaves reduce well, therefore quite petite and dainty leaf veins.

  8. Leaf colour New/Old - Feminine, light colour of the leaf vein and lamina.

  9. Other features - Scars, will heal over and be less visible in time.

Masculine 1 - Feminine 7

On the scale below the tree is at no 4 on the feminine side.

Pot selection

Option A: Dot Pot - 21.5cm round x 6cm - Willow Bonsai Pots

A. Pot characteristics:

1. Top View - Feminine, Round.

2. Side Profile - Feminine, reduction towards base creates a gentle curve.

3. Rim effect - Feminine, No rim present.

4. Feet of pot - Feminine, feet are indented from the front profile view.

5. Feet design - Feminine, Simple yet rounded design, low profile is slightly more masculine though.

6. Details and special features - Masculine, the studs on the top and lower section of the pot.

7. Glazed/Unglazed - Masculine, Due to the matt tone of the glaze and neutral Deep Stone glaze the glaze is more subdued.