Bonsai development basket vs bonsai pot plus’s vs downfalls

So I know that most information is going to be situational of individual goals.
I’m very new to the practice of bonsai so most my trees are seedlings of 1-4 years (I don’t mind the time it’s going to take I know 20 40 60 years is my time frame hopefully) so they’re very early in their development and I wouldn’t mind a little larger tree (still trying to work on my terminology)
So with that time frame with those goals and really want to enjoy growing with these trees and learning and growing hopefully making some respectable bonsai to outlive me I currently have a mix of both just wondering thought and maybe find a deeper reasoning to go with one or the other

Some pictures of how I have things set up (I had to rush and get everything under shade it went from 76 to 106 in a few days lol have to love the Central Valley of california

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the pictures are to show how i have the baskets and training pots set up. for the baskets i use half organic potting soul and pearlite the training pots are the mix of akadama pumice and lava rock ratio depends on the plant. the part im wondering about is the younger seedlings (coastal redwood is the big one on my mind) if the would develop at a similar rate (i do think the basket should be dramatically more effective) i originally thought it would help control the growth and give me time to learn while it grows. i do want larger bonsai so i do believe in the long run i am hurting myself by not pushing the growth earlier on. i wonder about the structure wiring and if i have an ok soil mix for the baskets thoughts opinions experiences all are welcome and greatly appreciated

Hi Josh, nice set up. The way to get maximum growth is to put in the ground. I took a coastal redwood of about 18 inches and thumb thick at the base. After two years in the ground it was about 8 feet tall with a trunk diameter at the base of about 2.5 inches (and I live in the frosty north of the UK). This may not be possible for you so the next best option is to grow in pots. Care must be taken not to ‘over pot them’. This can be disastrous as the soil will be far too wet for the small amount of roots and they will drown. The soil mix plays a huge part in how much or how little growth you get. Ordinary potting mix in a plant pot will give you more growth than akadama mix in a training pot. This growth however will not be as refined as the akadama mix.
With the baskets you will get lots of fibrous roots, which is good, though the top growth may not be as much as you’d like.
I’m sure I’m not the only one but what I do is every couple of years I repot my trees in development into slightly larger pots, then when they are the size I want I down size a couple of times before potting into a bonsai pot.
In the meantime, while waiting for your trees to grow, nip to the nursery and buy a couple of cheap ones to play with. There are a couple of streams which show what to look for when doing this.


my backyard is almost solid concrete which im lucky to have the space i do but i do wish i could pop a few in the ground. i do like the grow out and pull back methode lol it reminds me of body building the same sort of cycling over size then cut down refine then go big again!!! hmm so the baskets seem like the best bet for the ones i do want to grow a little faster so my limitations are going to be with my soil at this point. i was looking at the differences between pumice and perlite from what ive read pumice is the hands down winner so i guess the real question now is the organic matter lol potting soil peet or hmm lol guess i need to look into a few more things thank you for helping me work all this out lol

Hi @newbie_josh,

Contrary to what many on the forum recommend, I do not find growing in baskets to be a way of achieving faster growth unless you are watering 2, 3, 4, or more times a day and using a lot of fertilizer.
Course rock and bark soils just do not deliver enough water. It’s basically like hydroponics, by which you are able to deliver both water and oxygen at high levels. To get fast growth you need nothing more than nursery mix and a large container. Try a comparison test, you’ll see.



I remember reading that the consensus seemed to be that colanders are great for pines that need to dry out, maybe I misunderstood that.

That said, I put mine in trays of pumice that are wide saucers and they hold a lot of water. This kind of compensates for if it ever dries out too much.

Do you bury the pot or basket or the unpotted tree?

no i dont have an area to do that so the best i have is baskets and i put half cactus potting soil half pumice. ive gone back and forth with this sence spring and the baskets are out growing the bonsai pots by a noticeable amount. so the basket does seem like my best option its just getting the sub straight down which can always be improved

I’m in a similar boat. I have a bunch of seedlings and small trees, I can’t field grow them, and I can’t really afford larger trees.

At first I planted most of my trees in bonsai pots. Several months in, I regret it. The cherry blossoms are doing just fine (AFAIK these things are impossible to kill), but the rest don’t seem very happy with me. I’m planning to give them a year or two to recover and then take them back out in favor of better growing pots.

I’m using 9 inch mesh pond baskets for about 50 of my young trees - similar to yours, but a bit shallower. I can’t speak to the growth rate yet because I’ve only had this going for a few months, but they all seem healthy at least. I’m just using regular potting soil. The mesh pots are so free draining that it’s nearly impossible to drown them even in the more spongey soil. So I don’t know if mesh pots are the best option, but I think they’re at least a fairly safe.

I’ve also heard good things about grow bags, which have similar advantages to the pond baskets, but can be purchased in much larger sizes. I have a coast redwood growing in a 10 gallon bag.