Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Make a Topiary

By Katie Jensen

Topiaries add a bit of whimsy to the landscape. Sometimes called standards, topiaries are shapes, usually spherical, on the top of a sturdy trunk. Sizes can range from tabletop to six feet or taller. Topiaries don't occur naturally but are pruned or sheared into shape. The shapes can vary from the simple sphere to complicated animals. This topiary will be about two feet high with a sphere at the top.

Decide on a variety of plant. Leaves should be small or the plant should be a prolific bloomer. Evergreen plants are preferred so the shape is visible even while the plant is somewhat dormant. Vines can be used such as ivy. Even roses can be coaxed into a topiary.

Choose a plant with a long, straight central stem, rather than a plant with several stems. If working with a vine, choose one with long, trailing branches. Most plants grow from the top or tips of their branches, unlike grass which grows from the roots up. The plant should be from 2 to 3 feet tall.

Stake the central stem to a sturdy support secured in the plant's pot. Remove side branches for the first 18 inches of the stem. Tie the stem to the support about every 4 inches. You now have a plant that resembles a stick with bed hair. Trim little by little into a shape that somewhat resembles a sphere. It won't be perfect. As the plant grows, continue to snip any branches below the sphere perpendicular to the stem. Allow gaps in the sphere to fill in and keep trimming the rest of the sphere to maintain the shape. Once the shape is reasonable, allow the sphere to grow until it reaches a size that is in proportion with the stem or trunk.

Select a support for a vine topiary that is as high as the top of the topiary. Crush chicken wire into a ball shape about the size of a baseball. Push the wire ball on top of the stake and secure firmly with additional wire. The ball should not wobble.

Wind the branches of the vine around the support as closely as possible and fasten with ties. Weave the branches at the top in and out of the chicken wire to cover as much of the ball as possible. As the vines grow, continue weaving them through the wire. Eventually the ball will be completely covered with vines.


About the Author


Katie Jensen's first book was published in 2000. Since then she has written additional books as well as screenplays, website content and e-books. Rosehill holds a Master of Business Administration from Arizona State University. Her articles specialize in business and personal finance. Her passion includes cooking, eating and writing about food.