Should outdoor bonsais have a drip tray?

I’m confused on this matter. I recently read that only indoor bonsais need drip trays, but now I’m reading things which make me question this, such as Bonsai Humidity Tray - Why you need to use one

My trees are currently all outside, directly on the ground. So there’s no concern right now of water damage to the surface they’re placed on. I’m also watching Ryan’s soil video, where he is talking about the need for water to be sucked up from the bottom (I think that’s what I understood from it). Then I thought, does that process not require a drip tray?

Please help un-confuse me!

I do not use drip trays under my outdoor bonsai. The water drains through, on to the bench, and then to the ground. If I had the tree on a fine piece of furniture and did not have a good place to put it for watering (we want water to run through the pot), then I would use a drip tray. I use drip trays for my trees that are inside during the winter.

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Do you still use a drainage layer, like pumice, at the bottom of the tray?

Sort of related question. I bought two bonsai trees. The one’s pot is about 18x12cm, and only has a small perhaps 1cm in diameter drainage hole. The other is quite smaller: about 8x8cm, and I can’t see any visible holes from the bottom (might have small ones I can’t make out). Is that bad? The owner I bought them from said he just recently repotted the larger one. Would you advise repotting into pots with better drainage?

I do not use anything in the drip tray - the only purpose is to catch water draining from the pot.

The 1 cm hole may be large enough in the 18 x 12 pot, but I like larger drainage holes. the smaller pot needs a drainage hole or to be repotted. It is is a plastic of mica pot is in fairly easy to drill some small (3-5 mm) drainage holes.

The smaller pot is ceramic, so I’d have to replace the pot. How important is it? Do you think it could last a season, such that I could replace it next year?

I would get it into a pot with drainage holes since I believe that provides a better water/oxygen balance.

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Ok, I could use some help planning the repot as this’ll be my first. This is the tree:

I have a couple of these on order: as well as this one: I don’t think either really fit the tree. Another few I found which could work:

Any thoughts? I don’t yet have much of a feel for what pots work.

I think this is a good time of the year to repot (I’m in the UK). I have the soil I need. I have wire to anchor the tree. Do I need anything else?

Concerning the driptrays, I think you are overthinking it atm:) The use for indoor bonsai is contested, and outside (as previously stated) to protect benches.
In your first post you asked about water comming up from the bottom. Thats in the pot. You dont always get water directly under the trunk (no problem with your trees), then the wet soil to the sides and bottom of the pot will get the soil underneath the trunk wet (capilarry).

For the pots, seeing the tree you have its in early development. The eventual esthetic might be different, so the pot at this time isnt of unmost importance. I have trees in development in pots that fit, not pots that look 100% right:)
Then again I might be to easy going if it concerns esthetics:)

For a repot. I need for the tree: chopsticks, rootcutters, perhaps something to get it out of the pot:) The new potting: soils, anchorwire (bamboo perhaps) and chopsticks to integrate soil.

Quite a rant:p Hope it helps some, and as stated in another thread. Try to find someone in the neighbourhood when its possible. It helps alot to spar with someone.

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Ok so don’t worry about pot selection too much. I’m happy to go with that.

I’ve got general bonsai shears. Would they work as rootcutters for now? Ordered chopsticks; got the soil; I have anodized aluminium wire - would that work as anchorwire?

Please I will happily soak in this great knowledge from you. I don’t consider it a rant. I’m asking around for locals. There’s someone in particular I’m trying to get a hold of who’s been recommended to me.

Shears, ye. They will get dull because of the soil. The wire should work.

I dont live in England. Only names I know are Saruyama and Willowbough (not 100%).


I also have knob and concave cutters. I think I’ve seen root shears - should I get a pair?

I started the first 2 years with a shear, knobcutter, rootrake (never use it anymore) and wirecutter.

I was easy to get into the hobby, its fast to get sucked into XD. So if you wanne go in full forse, get some.
Dont be to afraid, as Ryan says, you will kill trees. I just killed my first one, after 5 years now…

I use a fairly low cost pair of garden shears for most of my repotting work. They look like typical bonsai shears except that they have molded plastic handles. They actually hold a fairly good edge and can be resharpened. Low cost pliers (what Ryan uses) and wire cutters (diagonal cutters) from the hardware store work great for tightening wire and cutting heavier wire.

I agree with a previous post about not worrying too much about aesthetics right now since the tree is in early development. The goal is to keep it alive and continuing to develop. However, that is helped by planting in a container that is not ugly even if it is not the perfect fit. You can always improve the container later.