I have a fetish about putting all my trees into bonsai pots, even the trees in early training that don’t begin to deserve a dedicated pot. My benches are just outside my dining room and kitchen windows so you can see the trees all the time, and they simply look nicer in nice pots. But I have a tendency to pot too early, a nice bonsai pot for an upcoming tree and the tree outgrows it… or changes its style. My Leptospernum myrsinoides ‘Twisted Sister’ went from slanting (training pot) to full cascade (handmade pot) to semi cascade (another handmade pot purchased to suit it) and then it settled on informal upright. So now I have two pots that I don’t need and a tree that is sitting, not altogether 100% compatibly, in a commercial sale pot.
I have started a new trend. I scour op shops for ceramics that can become nice bonsai containers with the addition of one or two holes, sometimes three. The cost is substantially lower and I’ve had pretty good luck. I happened to hit a Salvos just as they unloaded someone’s discarded ceramic pots, small but mostly very nice. At two dollars a pop I bought the lot (except the really ugly one!). I did break one trying to put two holes in it but at $2 there were no tears and a learning curve. Ironstone, ceramic or porcelain… you can do it.
These are some of my finds.
This is one of the $2 pots, beautiful glaze and nice for a mini saotome in training.
This $2 green irregular round is a beauty, finely made, lovely glaze and, until I can find a bonsai that suits it, holds my cheery windowsill plant.
Getting into bigger money, this $6 handmade pot from a bonsai sale stole my heart in one quick snatch and two holes added and it is gorgeous. The privet is in early training and the slant of the pot suits the tree and it is a lovely merger.
This is a twelve dollar bowl, now with three holes. The glaze is lovely, the back side is dark giving two options when utilising it. The little bowl holding the pot is another op shop purchase to grow on smaller trees that need deeper pots- four dollars.
The grewia has gone through three pots and it is hard finding a cascade pot. I got this at Flower Power and while it is a bit over decorative it works and it gives the tree a solid base. Thirty dollars and an added hole. What would this have cost as a bonsai pot?
This is today’s find- $12! Lovely glaze on the outside with a matt finish.
The inside is beautiful to but it needs the hole and who will see these lovely shades of purple.
Now, it is not a hard job to put holes in ceramics. I have done about 20 pots and lost one, oddly enough the least of the lot, which was good. You need a drill plus a concrete bit (which will cost about $15 dollars), a spray bottle helps as you need to keep the drilling site wet and I have a small board. I put a tea towel on the kitchen counter, a non slip pad on that, the piece of board and then the pot. When I penetrate the pot (which can take time and effort), the drill will go into the wood and not my caesarstone bench top. I could do it outside but I don’t think the glass topped patio table is strong enough to take the pressure! It works, that’s all that matters in the end. Start from the outside or the inside… mark your spots and expect the bit to skitter across smooth glaze. You have to work with it. But does it matter… who sees the holes and the fact they are not exactly placed? As long as they offer sufficient drainage… that is the crux.
I now have a number of alternate pots that do very well as bonsai pots. No feet… okay, no feet but I have metal grid benches so it doesn’t matter. You could use Aqua Knead It to make feet if you find it necessary. There’s always a solution, and seeking suitable containers and adding holes makes collecting alternate bonsai pots much cheaper and a lot more fun.