Bonsai Pot Care..... is that a thing?

Atom#28

Shohin
Messages
253
Reaction score
493
Location
Eastern WA
USDA Zone
6b
This may be the dumbest question ever asked here....

Does anything specific need to be done to preserve and maintain bonsai pots?

Bonus question: is there any way to tell if a pot is capable of handling deep-freeze temps? I mean, besides watching it shatter when it freezes.....
 

canoeguide

Yamadori
Messages
62
Reaction score
72
Location
Pennsylvania
USDA Zone
6a
I know that people use various oils or even silicone spray to make pots look good for show and to "protect" them from deposits. Vinegar is good at removing hard water deposits.
 

thams

Chumono
Messages
908
Reaction score
1,194
Location
Roswell, GA
USDA Zone
7b
What do you mean by preserve? Preserve patina or preserve a new pot to maintain a shiny new appearance? This is an important distinction because the last thing you want to do is remove decades of patina by soaking a pot in vinegar or scrubbing it with a stiff bristle brush.

Most quality bonsai pots are going to be vitrified and therefore frost-proof. If you picked up a pot for $5 (that wasn't just a lucky find), then chances are it's going to fail at some point more sooner than later.
 
Messages
1,214
Reaction score
1,602
Location
Netherlands
This may be the dumbest question ever asked here....

Does anything specific need to be done to preserve and maintain bonsai pots?

Bonus question: is there any way to tell if a pot is capable of handling deep-freeze temps? I mean, besides watching it shatter when it freezes.....
Not a dumb question at all, in general there is not really a care sheet for bonsai pots, common sense goes a long way for this (don't knock your jewellery on them, no tossing around and don't store/display them in places where traffic/kids/pets can get to them). I personally do like to clean them every now and then. Mostly just with my hand wiping sand etc off very gently, not to damage the glaze or a small brush and some water for algae etc.
For show prep you can use oil of whatever kind but beware that the oil doesn't spoil easily. You can also warm up vinegar to remove calcium deposits etc.

BQ: not really, but asking the potter about vitrification and firing temps is a good start. Not foolproof as it's not a vitrification guarantee but if you gently tap the pot with your fingernail and it has a nice ring most of the time it's vitrified or at least frost resistant to some degree.

Also, if you keep the pots outside on the drier end (no soaking in water/submerged etc) they shouldn't crack most of the time.
 

sorce

Nonsense Rascal
Messages
21,489
Reaction score
28,955
Location
Berwyn, Il
USDA Zone
6.2
You should prevent white build up.
Folks call this patina. It isn't.
Using organic ferts is a good prevention.
Chemical ferts, especially excessively, is a sure fire way to ruin a good pot.

If that part is not adhered to, the rest is moot. So do take preventative measures first.

Once you have prevented white build up, be it calcium, salt, whatever your preferred argument, using oils is not only to shine them for a show, but to lock in handling grime, this is patina.

So don't be sold on white nasty use as patina, chances are that pot is also not Frost proof, due to the seller's ignorance.

People say you can't speed up patina.
Lie.
It's a slow process, but there is a difference between a pot in a glass case that will never build patina, and a used pot, always handled with garden hands.

That said, speed up your patina by picking up your pots regularly. This is also another good reason to display trees where they can be easily picked up and inspected for pests.
Daily handling for pest inspection, is daily adding patina.

A tree in a pot won't cause patina, it is the act of rubbing dirt in with the oils on your fingers that causes patina. So when you take into account how often we actually need to, or can pick up a pot, we see why it is a long process.

Deep freeze.

First. Definitions of Frost-proof, and vitreous, must be fully understood, to understand what pots won't be destroyed over winter.

Vitreous means Non-porous. The Latin "like Glass".

Frost-Proof, to industry standards, doesn't necessarily need to be vitreous. Rather, the ceramics must have an appropriate percentage of open and closed porosity in order to accommodate the expansion of freezing water within the ceramic.

You can lick test a pot to see if it is vitreous, if it licks like glass, it is likely vitreous. (Remember the only applies to non glazed parts, glazes are vitreous themselves almost always.GLAZES NOT GLAZED POTS)
If water on the surface doesn't visibly absorb in some time, it also is a good indication of vitreousness.
The higher the ring when blipped, best done while holding the pot upside down with one finger as a cymbal, the tighter the molecules, which is also a good indication of vitreousness.

Vitreousness isn't going to keep a bag shaped pot from breaking in the freeze.
However, choice of soil plays a big part in this scenario, more on soil later.

So just because a pot is vitreous, doesn't mean it can withstand winter freeze. This is purely shape dependent.

Tests for non vitreous Frost proof pots can be found Here. These tests can be done with entire pots without ruining them for future use, and if it is a great concern, I highly recommend performing them.

An argument can be had, that it is likely safer for a bag shaped pot to be non vitreous yet Frost proof, as water in the bag will have somewhere to go.

Soil.

I can only speak about what I have observed, which happens to be the 2 extremes we need to understand about soil and freeze anyway.

When DE, over 2mm sifted Napa 8822 in this case, freezes, the way the ice crystals form actually cause the DE to "Fluff" for lack of a better term. The resistance needed to stop this fluffing heaving action is so little, it is by far the best soil choice for any bag shaped pot IMO. The Ice is essentially seperate from the soil, leaving space for movement, not acting as a single unit.

Regular Soil, standard dirt, even tighter nursery Soil, acts more in a fashion of a single unit, like an ice cube. The entire soil and water acts as one mass, expanding together, with no spaces. This is what causes it to break pots easier than DE.

Resorce.

Sorce
 

Atom#28

Shohin
Messages
253
Reaction score
493
Location
Eastern WA
USDA Zone
6b
Damn dude, thank you very much. I am now playing my pots like Vinnie Paul hehe. Most of them have a really sweet, high tone with lots of sustain. I bet they’ll vibrate sympathetically when I crank my amp to 11, too!! Thanks for taking the time to help me.


BQ: not really, but asking the potter about vitrification and firing temps is a good start. Not foolproof as it's not a vitrification guarantee but if you gently tap the pot with your fingernail and it has a nice ring most of the time it's vitrified or at least frost resistant to some degree.
Thank you. I wish I could ask the potter, but most of the ones I own have Japanese, Chinese, and Korean writing in them. If the tap test is reliable, I think I should be fine. I won’t have trees ready for proper bonsai pots for at least another year...then the test of winter is on!!!
 

sorce

Nonsense Rascal
Messages
21,489
Reaction score
28,955
Location
Berwyn, Il
USDA Zone
6.2
playing my pots
I was trying to post a video I had of playing pots but couldn't find it. Think it's on the BOOk. Don't go there no more!

Sorce
 

Crawforde

Mame
Messages
122
Reaction score
142
Location
Florida
USDA Zone
9b
You should prevent white build up.
Folks call this patina. It isn't.
Using organic ferts is a good prevention.
Chemical ferts, especially excessively, is a sure fire way to ruin a good pot.

If that part is not adhered to, the rest is moot. So do take preventative measures first.

Once you have prevented white build up, be it calcium, salt, whatever your preferred argument, using oils is not only to shine them for a show, but to lock in handling grime, this is patina.

So don't be sold on white nasty use as patina, chances are that pot is also not Frost proof, due to the seller's ignorance.

People say you can't speed up patina.
Lie.
It's a slow process, but there is a difference between a pot in a glass case that will never build patina, and a used pot, always handled with garden hands.

That said, speed up your patina by picking up your pots regularly. This is also another good reason to display trees where they can be easily picked up and inspected for pests.
Daily handling for pest inspection, is daily adding patina.

A tree in a pot won't cause patina, it is the act of rubbing dirt in with the oils on your fingers that causes patina. So when you take into account how often we actually need to, or can pick up a pot, we see why it is a long process.

Deep freeze.

First. Definitions of Frost-proof, and vitreous, must be fully understood, to understand what pots won't be destroyed over winter.

Vitreous means Non-porous. The Latin "like Glass".

Frost-Proof, to industry standards, doesn't necessarily need to be vitreous. Rather, the ceramics must have an appropriate percentage of open and closed porosity in order to accommodate the expansion of freezing water within the ceramic.

You can lick test a pot to see if it is vitreous, if it licks like glass, it is likely vitreous. (Remember the only applies to non glazed parts, glazes are vitreous themselves almost always.GLAZES NOT GLAZED POTS)
If water on the surface doesn't visibly absorb in some time, it also is a good indication of vitreousness.
The higher the ring when blipped, best done while holding the pot upside down with one finger as a cymbal, the tighter the molecules, which is also a good indication of vitreousness.

Vitreousness isn't going to keep a bag shaped pot from breaking in the freeze.
However, choice of soil plays a big part in this scenario, more on soil later.

So just because a pot is vitreous, doesn't mean it can withstand winter freeze. This is purely shape dependent.

Tests for non vitreous Frost proof pots can be found Here. These tests can be done with entire pots without ruining them for future use, and if it is a great concern, I highly recommend performing them.

An argument can be had, that it is likely safer for a bag shaped pot to be non vitreous yet Frost proof, as water in the bag will have somewhere to go.

Soil.

I can only speak about what I have observed, which happens to be the 2 extremes we need to understand about soil and freeze anyway.

When DE, over 2mm sifted Napa 8822 in this case, freezes, the way the ice crystals form actually cause the DE to "Fluff" for lack of a better term. The resistance needed to stop this fluffing heaving action is so little, it is by far the best soil choice for any bag shaped pot IMO. The Ice is essentially seperate from the soil, leaving space for movement, not acting as a single unit.

Regular Soil, standard dirt, even tighter nursery Soil, acts more in a fashion of a single unit, like an ice cube. The entire soil and water acts as one mass, expanding together, with no spaces. This is what causes it to break pots easier than DE.

Resorce.

Sorce
I live in south Florida and don’t give a hoot about frosts, but I read the whole thing. It was a nice informative post. But low on the humor. But I’ll give ya a 8.8 out of 10.
thanks.
 

sorce

Nonsense Rascal
Messages
21,489
Reaction score
28,955
Location
Berwyn, Il
USDA Zone
6.2
But low on the humor. But I’ll give ya a 8.8 out of 10
Lolol! I really need these laughs and smiles too so many thanks!

"Give a hoot" has been a 'funny' for us here the last week, a story that may get shared some time.
For now. I really really appreciate these words.

Thank you super kindly!

Sorce
 

Crawforde

Mame
Messages
122
Reaction score
142
Location
Florida
USDA Zone
9b
Did you have any luck finding the video playing the pots?
 

Atom#28

Shohin
Messages
253
Reaction score
493
Location
Eastern WA
USDA Zone
6b
Tests for non vitreous Frost proof pots can be found Here.
Very science, much good. 5/7 perfect score. I love the differentiation between porosity and absorbancy. The discussion about surface sealant is kinda what I was wondering when I started this thread, but the last thing I want to do is smear something all over a nice pot and not know how it would affect not only it's weather resistance, but also the health of the tree (leaching of chemicals, etc).

However..... regarding the testing:

Ain't no way I'll be boiling bonsai pots for 5 hours. Someday, maybe. But I have a 4 year old kiddo and a list of honey-do's a mile long. No time for soakin and boiling. Luckily (and kinda sadly), I don't have any pot-worthy trees yet, so not even doing any real world testing for a year or three...

But i'm not sad, I have them all on display in my man cave. No need to rush into filling them with trees. Especially when I'm having so much fun lickin' em.
 

sorce

Nonsense Rascal
Messages
21,489
Reaction score
28,955
Location
Berwyn, Il
USDA Zone
6.2
Very science, much good. 5/7 perfect score. I love the differentiation between porosity and absorbancy. The discussion about surface sealant is kinda what I was wondering when I started this thread, but the last thing I want to do is smear something all over a nice pot and not know how it would affect not only it's weather resistance, but also the health of the tree (leaching of chemicals, etc).

However..... regarding the testing:

Ain't no way I'll be boiling bonsai pots for 5 hours. Someday, maybe. But I have a 4 year old kiddo and a list of honey-do's a mile long. No time for soakin and boiling. Luckily (and kinda sadly), I don't have any pot-worthy trees yet, so not even doing any real world testing for a year or three...

But i'm not sad, I have them all on display in my man cave. No need to rush into filling them with trees. Especially when I'm having so much fun lickin' em.
Involve the kids!

Involving my daughter in something simple as getting permits for chickens has educated her so much about real life!


The school system sucks and doesn't want us to educate these things, because it makes for less feees gathered

Blah
Ddjnk.

Sorce
 

Warpig

Shohin
Messages
435
Reaction score
325
Location
Youngstown, Ohio
USDA Zone
6a
Involve the kids!

Involving my daughter in something simple as getting permits for chickens has educated her so much about real life!


The school system sucks and doesn't want us to educate these things, because it makes for less feees gathered

Blah
Ddjnk.

Sorce
Mixing family and fun? You really are a madman.
 

Atom#28

Shohin
Messages
253
Reaction score
493
Location
Eastern WA
USDA Zone
6b
What do you mean by preserve? Preserve patina or preserve a new pot to maintain a shiny new appearance?

I initially meant preserving the structural integrity of the pot. However, patina and appearance are also topics I need to learn. My brain is hungry, give me all the informations!!!
 

chansen

Shohin
Messages
305
Reaction score
226
Location
Salt Lake City, UT
USDA Zone
6a
You'll build better pot patina using a drying oil, instead of a non-drying oil. Walnut oil is a drying oil, along with a few others.
 

Dav4

Drop Branch Murphy
Messages
10,300
Reaction score
18,075
Location
North Georgia/lived in MA until 2009
USDA Zone
7b
Is that what you use in your nut sack @Adair M ?:)
I thought all the nut sack questions had been answered... but NO!! I always assumed a good nut sack had a moistening affect on whatever you chose to rub it on... or, at least, that was ALWAYS my experience... :p.
 

Similar threads


Top Bottom