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How to choose a bonsai pot no 2 - Scott's Pine

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.

Pinus (Pine)

Scott Kirby

Current pot size: 50 x 35 x 19cm

Tree Size: 60 x 60cm

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 very powerful at the moment, Once repotted look further down into the soil if there is a nice tapering effect and if possible to lift to showcase that.

  2. Trunk line - Masculine, Straight with a slight lean. Conforms to the general rule of Formal upright in this regard.

  3. Bark texture - Masculine, Textured bark with a flaky manner, showing age.

  4. Bark colour - Masculine, Very subdued light grey colour, mostly with hints of dark grey on the flaky bits and speckled throughout.

  5. Primary branches - Masculine, Straight branches with good taper from trunk to end of branch. Mirrors the trunk line well.

  6. Ramification - Masculine, Not very fine branching yet however this will improve over time but the branches will still have a strong supporting look to support the foliage.

  7. Leaf size/density - Feminine, Beautiful colour fine needles give a feel of delicacy to the tree.

  8. Leaf colour New/Old - Feminine, Older needle colour darker, New needle colour light with a tinge of blue.

  9. Other features - Masculine, Scars and deadwood can be used to showcase the masculinity of this tree.

Masculine 6 - Feminine 3

On the scale below the tree is at no 3 on the masculine side.

Pot selection

Option A: Rectangle Window Xlarge 40 x 31 x 11cm - Willow Bonsai Pots

Unglazed effect or Peacock Glaze

A. Pot characteristics:

1. Top View - Masculine, Strong straight sides with sharp edges. Rectangle

2. Side Profile - Feminine, Can be viewed as masculine but the slight curvature has a nice flow.

3. Rim effect - Masculine, Emphasized rim with strong lines give power to the pot.

4. Feet of pot - Masculine, Slightly indented but very strong lines.

5. Feet design - Masculine, Rectangle type design with straight sides and simple design.

6. Details and special features - Feminine, The indented window section on each side of the pot gives a nice small detail and reduces the optical weight of the pot.

7. Glazed/Unglazed - Masculine, Best option would be our Manganese unglazed effect(See Pottery studio page for picture).

Glaze Option B: to create a feminine effect a more glossy glaze must be used for example the green Peacock glaze. The rich tones in this Peacock glaze will help enhance the foliage colour while the darker hues will contrast with the bark and foliage.

Masculine 5 - Feminine 2


1. Contrast and Harmony - The unglazed manganese oxide effect on this pot will enhance the masculinity of the tree while contrasting with the foliage and light grey colour in the bark. It will harmonize with the flaking bark and speckled dark areas in the bark.

2. Composition/ Telling a story - This pot emphasizes the straight formal upright design, straight powerful branch structure while complementing the fine needles of the Pine. This pot choice will help to show the majestic, powerful, singular look of the tree while enhancing the strong masculine features. The tree will be planted on the right third line as the lean is to the left, meaning the flow of the composition is from right to left. The size of pot is perfect for the rule of thirds as its length is 2/3rds the height of the tree.

The option B glaze will tone down the masculinity a little by reducing the optical weight of the pot. This in part will help showcase the foliage more than the straight lines or bark colour.

Glaze option B for Rectangle Window Xlarge:


Option B: Rectangle SS Large - 34 x 25 x 7cm - Willow Bonsai Pots

B. Pot characteristics:

1. Top View - Masculine, Rectangle with sharp edges.

2. Side Profile - Masculine, Straight with taper to feet, Very strong effect.

3. Rim effect - Feminine, No rim present.

4. Feet of pot - Masculine, no indentation, follows line of the side profile.

5. Feet design - Masculine, Rectangle feet with simple design and strong design.

6. Details and special features - None.

7. Glazed/Unglazed - Masculine, Unglazed Manganese or Peacock glaze as with Option A.

Masculine 5 - Feminine 1


1. Contrast and Harmony - The unglazed manganese oxide effect on this pot will enhance the masculinity of the tree while contrasting with the foliage and light grey colour in the bark. It will harmonize with the flaking bark and speckled dark areas in the bark.

2. Composition/ Telling a story - This pot emphasizes even more the masculinity of the tree. It may be a second planting option if the root ball is sufficiently reduced to accommodate the pot. The difference between Option A and this pot is that this pot allows the viewer to leave the pot and allow a more open feel due to the lack of rim. The rim on Option A restricts the viewer to only view inside the frame the pot creates. The reduction in optical weight shows off more the finer detail in the branches to the viewer as well as the trunks masculinity.



This Pine will be best planted in Option A to get as much out of the composition as possible. It will also have enough space for root growth etc. The unglazed look being the best but for something different with something that pops out at you the 2nd glazed option will work well.

As always this is an opinion and is just a guideline to what can work and the reason thereof. In art we need to take a set of choices and make them tangible and easy to understand. Breaking up the characteristics of the tree and pot makes this easier to explain the options and choices made in a constructive manner. Not just saying it looks nice or not, but using the above to tell a story and convey the image in the artists mind to the viewer.

Want to participate?

We plan on doing a case study on a tree like the above each week for our customers and collection trees. If you would like to participate and have us choose a pot for your tree with explanations please send us an email with the following details:

  1. Photo of tree taken from the front and at eyelevel

  2. Size of the tree

  3. Size of current pot

  4. Future growth and compositional remarks for the future.

  5. What story do you have in mind for the tree or what feature do you want to enhance.

Send the above to

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