Undercut pot rim

I picked up this handsome little pot this week with a shohin mugo pine in mind to be potted up in the spring

Hopefully you can see from the photo that the inner lip of the pot is deeply undercut. Anticipating future repots, I am aware that I will have trouble getting the pine out. My question is this- do I pack out the inner wall, or just get in with a blade and cut the roots?

Good observation. You may know all this but here are a couple thoughts:

-Just as a design fyi, it’s a nice pot but very feminine for many pines. That doesn’t mean it won’t be perfect for your Mugo, just be aware that ovals with concave lips are typically for graceful, gentle, trees. Even the unglazed ovals. I personally like unglazed ovals best with informal Kishu or Itoigawa junipers. Possibly a Hinoki if it isn’t too straight and sparse.

-You can root prune Mugo in spring or summer. Pretty cool for a pine! Just an option if you want to pot it up now.

-Despite this vitality, Mugo still grow with helpful mycorrhizae like any pine so do not bare root but leave some field or nursery soil in the root mass when you rake them out.

-When you first pot it, the Mugo should need to be anchored in the container securely by wire and not have such a big rootball that it is already snug to the edge of the pot. You need enough room for a healthy layer of your Boon’s Mix all the way around. If it is too tight, you either must root prune more or the pot is too small for your material.

I am still learning this species myself, but I have noticed Mugo roots grow pretty fast and thick for a pine. They are quick to circle a pot and begin choking the tree. I am thinking that these pines in small containers might potentially need repotting every two years instead of three. It wouldn’t be good to put too much strain on pine roots as that is where the strength of the genus is, so it is a balance between root pruning before it becomes pot bound but not so often that the tree is overly stressed.

While it isn’t a show stopper, here is my mame Mugo pine in a nice Gyouzan pot. The pot is a little quiet as it has no outward lip, sharp corners, severe angles or masculine characteristics other than being a rectangle. This works well with a young bushy healthy pine like this one. I think so anyway.

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Awesome @Joe_Perry
Thanks for the info.
Until you mentioned it, I hadn’t even considered how feminine the pot is. I picked it because the pine is semi cascade, and I was looking for a pot with a bit of hight as well as stability. I will have to keep the lines graceful.
I don’t know about the possibility of potting now either, but to be honest, I moved the tree into another pot for a show, then into a training pot, all in the last 6 weeks, so I think it best to let it recover until spring.
Your tree looks really healthy, and sits well in it’s pot. I have found with my tree that when it back buds, it’s best not to touch the pair of needles where the embryo bud is emerging from. More than once, I have tried to pluck, and ended up pulling off the bud.


It’s a brilliant tree, much more dynamic than my little mame Mugo!

I think you are absolutely right about holding off on repotting until it has settled. I slip-potted a Engelmann Spruce twice in one year. I thought it would be fine because I didn’t prune any roots, but it really was unhappy for a while because of it. Engelmann don’t even rely on mycorrhizae in the roots the same way pines do! So, yeah, you are wise to wait until spring.

In many cases, my trees are not as nice as my pots. An example of this was the mame Mugo in the Gyouzan rectangle (pot worth much more than tree). Another example is my Sierra Juniper semi-cascade. While the tree is just Ok, the container is killer. It’s by female Tokoname potter Atsuko Bisho. This is a true semi-cascade pot. Despite being round, the impressed studs and outward flaring lip make it more masculine. I got this one maybe 3 three years ago from Matt Ouwinga.


Random containers like this Bisho aside, I think the very best semi-cascade and cascade shohin pot maker is Fushu. I’m not sure if you know her, but she is the wife of Master potter Shouzan and also the mother of the equally respected Ikkou. Talk about an amazing family!! Her shohin cascade and semi-cascade pots cost about $150-$200, so they are a moderate price. I found pictures of two Fushu pots that my friend Nelson S. sold over the last year.

Softer semi-cascade pot by Fushu. The hand-pinched band around the lip is a nice feature.

More masculine full-cascade pot by Fushu. It’s loud, but show quality.

If you are interested, I can find out if any of my ceramics people have a Fushu pot currently for sale. :+1:


Fushu pots are usually between 4"-6" with occasional sizes up to 9".

Hi @Joe_Perry
Very nice pots!
Sometimes it makes sense to put a tree in a superior pot; it gives the tree something to live up to, creates the causes for a better tree, and ages the pot. I have definitely been guilty of putting trees in small pot, that should have gone into training pots for development, but that’s all part of the fun.
Fushy’s work looks beautiful, do you have a link?

Sadly, like many great Japanese bonsai potters, Fushu has no website and Michael Ryan Bell never made it to creating a blog entry about her. Her pots come up for sale on ebay semi-regularly. Maybe 12 pots or so per year.