How to Prune Ivy Topiaries


Ivy is an extremely versatile plant grown indoors or out. While there are many different ivy varieties distinguishable by shape, size and leaf color, the English ivy is classic. One of the best ways to enjoy the beauty of ivy is to grow it as a topiary tree. Ivy topiaries can be shaped as spheres, cones, animal figures or a creative design of your own. Maintaining ivy topiaries requires careful pruning to achieve the shape you desire. Pruning also controls spread and keeps the tree healthy and attractive.

Pruning for Shape and Height

Step 1

Pinch and remove foliage and vines that are dead or weak, using your thumb and index finger. If the topiary shape is a sphere or cone, you need to prune deep into the center of the design.

Step 2

Cut out the lowest new vines and leaves growing on the main stem or trunk with your bonsai pruning shears. This allows you to achieve height for your ivy topiary. Make the cut flush to the junction where the vine meets the trunk.

Step 3

Cut off growth that is spreading out from the original shape or crowding other foliage. Since the growth rate of ivy differs depending on its variety, your topiary may need to be shaped several times a year. As a rule, prune for shaping purposes when new growth reaches 10 percent of your original ivy topiary diameter.

Pruning to Enhance Light

Step 1

Look for vines that are creating a canopy that prevents light from entering the main stem. This is a particular problem in ivy topiaries grown in geometric shapes. New vine growth tightens the shape so light is unable to penetrate.

Step 2

Cut the foliage, being careful not to harm the shape of your ivy topiary.

Step 3

Trim off growth at the base of the tree if you are unable to see through to the trunk.

Pruning to Control Pests

Step 1

Examine the leaves of your ivy carefully for mites, scales, mealybugs, whiteflies and aphids. A magnifying glass is helpful in locating these tiny insects on leaves.

Step 2

Prune off areas that are infected by pests. Be careful not to touch any other foliage when removing infected areas.

Step 3

Use a pesticide according to directions after disposing of the infected foliage.

Tips and Warnings

  • Prevent leaving a stub by pruning flush to the main stem. A stub is an invitation for disease and pests.

Things You'll Need

  • Bonsai pruning shears
  • Magnifying glass


  • Pruning Ornamental Plants in the Landscape
  • The Rosedale Plantsman's Guide to Herb and Ivy Topiaries
  • Topiary Care Guide

Who Can Help

  • Indoor Ivy
Keywords: ivy topiary, English ivy, topiary tree, pruning topiaries, maintaining ivy topiaries

About this Author

Maryellen Cicione is an award winning writer with more than 15 years of experience in writing and editing. With a background in journalism and corporate communications, she specializes in interviewing, researching and developing a wide range of articles. Cicione's work is published in numerous websites, magazines, newspapers and other publications.