Choosing the best topiary plants is dependent upon finding plants that can be easily shaped into figures that display the texture and color you desire. Since topiaries are a culmination of different plants joined together to create a visual representation of some other form, such as an animal, it is wise to begin with a list of your best options with a variety of ornamental choices for any shape and surface design.
Stonecrop (Sedum spp.) is one of the best topiary plants because it is low maintenance and has a high tolerance to drought. Displaying small yellow flowers during the summer season and green foliage, stonecrop is available in a wide variety of visual options including Sedum ternatum that bears white flowers. Thriving in full sun to partial shade, stonecrop prefers moist, well-drained soil. Stonecrop grows to a height of 3 to 12 inches and grows best when planted in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 8, according to the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension Service.
The polka-dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) is a perennial plant well suited for use as a topiary plant due to its high density, fast growth rate and vibrant foliage. Displaying dotted foliage in hues of red, pink or white with deep green, variegated leaves, the polka-dot plant bears blue to lavender flowers during the summer months. Thriving in filtered light to full shade, the polka-dot plant prefers moist, well-drained soil with an acid pH; this plant tolerates slightly alkaline soil but must remain out of intense, direct sunlight or leaves may fade and curl, according to the University of Florida IFAS Extension. Polka-dot plants reach a height of 12 to 18 inches and should be planted in USDA Hardiness Zones 10B to 11.
Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans), also referred to as ajuga or carpet bugle, is well-suited for use as a topiary because of its dense growth pattern and semi-evergreen foliage. Displaying deep green leaves with clustered blue flowers that bloom in May to June, bugleweed is available in other varieties that offer bronze foliage. Bugleweed thrives in full sun and well-drained soil, tolerating shade and most soil types. This topiary plant grows to a height of up to 8 inches, according to the University of Missouri Extension. Plant in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 10A.
Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) is one of the best options for use as a topiary plant, due to its rapid growth rate that allows you to cultivate and create your topiary without a long wait. Creeping Jenny is a low-spreading plant that displays green to yellow foliage and yellow flowers that bloom during the month of June. To add yellow to your topiary, choose the cultivar aurea that displays yellow foliage. Creeping Jenny thrives in full sun to partial shade and prefers moist, well-drained soil; tolerances include wet sites. This topiary plant reaches a height of 1 to 3 feet; plant in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9, according to the University of Illinois Extension HortAnswers.