How to Start a Topiary


Ivy, hydrangea, boxwood, holly and rosemary make very pretty topiary plants because they respond well to pruning and can be shaped around a form. Topiaries are not certain types of plants, but rather the art of making shapes with living plants. The practice of making topiaries has been around for hundreds of years. They are available to purchase, but starting your own is very rewarding because you can watch it grow and take shape.

Step 1

Buy a plant pot that can support the eventual height of the topiary. To determine the correct size, use your topiary form as a judge. If the tree will grow to a height of 4 feet, for instance, plant it in a container than has a 24-inch diameter.

Step 2

Create a fertile base. Put compost and potting soil in the bottom of the pot. Make it an even mixture. Place the topiary form in the middle of the pot and put just enough of the combination soil around it to hold it in place.

Step 3

Fill the container up until the soil reaches 3 inches from the top brim. Nestle the plant at the bottom of the topiary form, and put soil over the roots. You want the plant as close to the form as possible so that it can easily grow over and around it.

Step 4

Water until the soil is moist. Insert your finger as far down as possible and make sure it's damp down to the roots. Pour some liquid fertilizer, following the application directions, onto the soil to get the topiary to grow faster.

Step 5

Wind the vines around the form to encourage them to grow in that direction. Don't pull on them tightly. If they are stubborn, hold them in place by tying them to the form with green dental floss.

Step 6

Touch the soil every day to check for moisture. If it's drying out, water the plant with a kitchen sprayer or hose. Dunking it into a water pail will also work, as long as you don't leave the plant sitting in water.

Step 7

Trim the topiary to retain its shape. Regular pruning will also keep the plant dense. Cut off any branches that are growing in a wayward fashion. If stems are looking stringy, remove them, too.

Step 8

Put the plant somewhere that gets a lot of sunlight. A windowsill is ideal for indoor topiaries. You can move them outside in the warm weather.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not put topiaries in dark spots, because they will not grow well. Avoid giving topiary plants too much water.

Things You'll Need

  • Container
  • Topiary form
  • Compost
  • Soil
  • Vining plants
  • Hose or kitchen sprayer
  • Liquid fertilizer
  • Green dental floss


  • Potted People and Their Potted Pets: How to make a topiary
  • Gardening Know How: How to Make Your Own Topiary
  • P. Allen Smith: Making an Ivy Topiary
Keywords: start a topiary, plant a topiary, grow a topiary

About this Author

Kelly Shetsky has been a broadcast journalist for more than 10 years, researching, writing, producing and reporting daily on many topics. In addition, she writes for several websites, specializing in medical, health and fitness, arts and entertainment, travel and business. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.