Ratio of pot to trunk diameter?

Hi folks!

Generally speaking: for single trunk, non-literati, non-forest-planting trees, what do you look for in your ratio of pot diameter to trunk diameter? Do you look for a certain amount of space from pot edge to trunk?

If only it were that easy. There are several things to consider as well as some limiting factors. But rather than thinking about a ratio it may be more helpful to think about striking a balance between aesthetics and functionality with the pot. There are several folks on this forum more versed in pot selection than I and I’m sure they will add a lot more, but here are some considerations.

  1. Water needs of the tree. The smaller the pot the more you will likely need to water the tree. So if you are gone at work all day, work OT, travel a lot, etc. a pot on the larger size may be more appropriate.
  2. Repotting frequency may increase with smaller pots and also depends on species.
  3. Large roots that the tree depends on may limit pot size.
  4. Depth of the container. Informed by the style of the tree.

I think a good strategy going into the repotting season is to have several pots on hand. This will be particularly helpful if you are doing a first repot on a Yamadori with an unknown root mass.
There are a few videos in the archive on repotting that will have a ton of great info.

Post a pic of the tree and of the pot you would like to use.

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Thanks for your response! I was afraid somebody would say that. :wink:

Here’s my challenge: I picked up a pot I’m in love with, and I’m trying to think about the size of tree I’d like to look for to match it (over the next few years…)

Operating constraints are 9" across and 1.75" internal height. What I’m trying to figure out is: all other things being equal, what’s the fattest and thinnest trunk I should consider? My intuition says 5-7" for both aesthetics and horticulture, but Iunno!

Pics of pot.

Beyond trunk size do you have a type of tree in mind? My first thought is a twisty rough dark barked conifer. But with that little flash of tan at the bottom you could maybe go with a smooth barked broadleaf tree too. I dunno, maybe not.

My secret bonsai shame is I don’t really like working with evergreen conifers.

Ideally: a twisted pom or European olive. I was also scoping some American cranberry (Viburnum trilobum).

I with you on that. I have a few conifers but also prefer broadleaf evergreens and deciduous. That pot has so much character it’ll be interesting to see what you pair it with.

I believe the average norm for pot depth from a design perspective is pot depth equals the diameter of the tree base. The width of the pot would be 2/3’s of the tree’s height. Probably even 1/3 for literati. If you can find David DeGroot’s book on design, it would be a good resource. I think David also addresses the relationship between the 2 dimensional visual mass of the tree (everything - trunk, foliage) and the mass of the pot being around 30% of the pot mass compared to the tree mass. I lent a friend David’s book so I can’t reference it right now. The numbers above, if accurate, are traditional norms. You need not follow them.