Colanders/baskets: how big? where to buy?

Hi folks,

Two questions:

  1. If I’m using a colander/plastic plant basket as a substitute for ground growing, how large should I aim for? E.g. 12 inches across, 5 inches deep.

  2. Suggestions for inexpensive options that will hold particles as small as 1/8"? If the “will hold small particles” piece isn’t realistic, how do other folks handle it – just line the whole colander/basket with a plastic bonsai screen?

ETA: assuming my goals are (1) first stage trunk/branch thickening for trees with up to 2" diameter trunks, many of them much less, and (2) portability given I’m likely to be moving cross country within 1-2 years and hauling 50+ trees with me.


cc @Joe_Perry whom it seems like has know-how and strong feelings on the subject!

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Dollar stores, goodwill, thrift stores, Daiso (japanese dollar store). Pond baskets are fine also.

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Pond baskets available at HomeDepot and Lowes for around $4 each. -and of course amazon.

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Suggestions for inexpensive options that will hold particles as small as 1/8"?

  • build a wooden box:
  1. Use wire mesh or screen for the base supported by wood (snd serves as feet for the box too). There are diiferent sizes, not sure if there are sizes smaller than 1/8".
  2. Use wood for base snd drill holes… lots of holes.

-or line the colander with long fiber sphagnum moss before putting you soil. Easier :wink:.

-or use those coco fiber liners for hanging baskets. Easiest :grin:

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I make boxes out of cedar and line with 1/8” mesh screen. I leave a gap on two sides and gaps along the bottom for airflow/oxygen and drainage.


Follow up question: for grow boxes etc., should I use 100% pumice, regular organic planting soil, or something else?


If you have some Asian food stores in your area, look there. Asian colanders tend to be not as high in relation to their width and also have wider (more stable) bases in comparison to traditional American kitchen colanders. I’ve bought them in 8”, 10”, 13”, and 15” sizes at these stores for a few dollars. The only concern you should have with these is to how quickly UV rays cause deterioration of the plastic. I had some red ones that only lasted two years because of this.

Asian colanders are designed to hold rice. Don’t worry about 1/8” bonsai soil washing out.

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100% pumice, using the pumice will assure a good balance of water and oxygen.
This method would be for general health of the tree and root development.
I was going to suggest to you for trunk thickening the fastest way is in the ground, but since you are moving in a couple years, boxing the trees in pumice for that period, then put them in the ground at your new location to thicken the trunks.
Trunk thickening will also depend on what the trees have for branch placement. Thickening occurs in the area where the branch originates, then when desired thickness is achieved, the branch is removed.
Anybody chime in with your thoughts and or corrections. :grinning: :evergreen_tree:


I did exactly the same as @MtBakerBonsai except I bought vintage wooden crates of various sizes in local garden centre. Not sure of a result as it was first time this spring I put my JBP 5 years old seedling in there to see how much faster it will grow/thicken in compare to its sibling of a same kind/age in plastic black nursery container. Also agree re plastic deterioration of colanders with time esp when it comes to pines which shouldn’t be re-potted often.
Only cos Im light weight woman with no garden, shed neither owning much of right tools I found it easier to purchase these than build them from scratch as much as I would love to :slight_smile: maybe in the future…
You can use google and find them really cheap! But advice too to anyone else with limited access/skills make their own boxes…