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I bought these on the street an hour ago but I can't tell if they are just very young trees or genuine bonsai.

The seller said they were several years old. I don't remember exactly but maybe 5-15 years old.

He claimed they were in their definitive pots. That they didn't need to be changed again. I know nothing about bonsai. If that's wrong, it could just be that he didn't know much either.

What do you think and or how can I figure it out?

Don't be afraid to tell me they are not genuine. I already believe they aren't and they didn't cost a fortune.

Alleged bonsai 1

Alleged bonsai 2

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They are genuine Bonsai. They mass produce these little trees and they make great first Bonsai. This example is a great start. Not necessarily first rate but super to learn on before you get a 'real' Bonsai, half a century in age or more worth thousands of bucks...highly recommend a hands on class in Bonsai!

Bonsai is a PROCESS, never an end result. Yours looks like Ilex. Great foliage and needs thinning very soon. Water every day. Try to find bottled water or a friend's well water. There is also light, fertilizer, how much to prune off the top growth and then how much to prune from the roots to keep the top growth in balance with the roots. Start reading up on these guys as they are the ultimate test of a gardener. This is akin to adopting an animal friend for life? Constant vigilance yet so very rewarding.

Sign up for a class. The best are by Bonsai Masters (that seem to not speak English). The white gravel has got to go, grins! When I watered bonsai I would dunk the entire pot in a bucket of water and wait until the bubbles stopped. Sometimes that would be good enough for 2 days. Feel the weight of your pot and plant after soaking. It will feel markedly lighter when it needs to be soaked again. Your plant isn't meant to be watered from above at all...

  • ...oh I just knew you'd like that detail...laughing!! – stormy Aug 9 '17 at 23:30
  • Thank you. Do you know how old these trees are? I'm not sure if what you mean is that they are normal small trees that can be used to get started in the bonsai process, or if they have already been cared for in the bonsai way for a while. And in that case, for how long? – Norbert Aug 10 '17 at 16:35
  • These are not 'trees'...any woody perennial can be used for Bonsai. I think you've got Ilex (crenata) or Japanese Boxwood. That is a shrub. Your plants are less than 5 years old. That is why they were inexpensive. The trick is making this 'stunted' shrub to look like a real tree in miniature or as if you are viewing it from a distance. You got a great start to take to a class and learn how to keep this plant growing. This is the most artificial of all plant/human skills. If you can keep this guy alive you are learning what plants need and becoming a great gardener. – stormy Aug 10 '17 at 18:55

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