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How to Make a Plant Grow Into a Shape

By Michelle Powell-Smith ; Updated September 21, 2017

There are several methods to make a plant grow into a shape or create a topiary. Wire frames and trellises may be used to train a plant, or it can be done with judicious trimming and pruning. With training, plants can grow into a variety of shapes, including classic spheres atop a trunk or stem, rings or even whimsical shapes. Topiaries can be small tabletop plantings or large decorative outdoor plants, depending upon the size and type of plant.

How to Make a Plant Grow into Shape

Choose a woody herb, shrub or a vine type plant for training. Opt for a woodier plant if you want to train your topiary without a wire frame. Use a vine for a wire based topiary.

Prepare the supports for your plant. Shape your supports as appropriate to help the plant grow into a shape. Start with a metal or plastic plant stake to support the stem of the plant. Wrap the stake in floral tape. Repeat if you will be using a larger frame to make a plant grow into a shape.

Cut chicken wire into manageable sections appropriate for your topiary. Bend a frame from chicken wire, stuffing hollow parts of the frame with sphagnum moss. Create narrow and manageable shapes to form a frame for a woody plant. Make larger, fuller sculptures as a base for ivy or other plants that vine and trail. Secure the wire frame to plant stakes using floral wire.

Secure your frame into the dirt in the garden or the potting soil with plant stakes. Be sure to embed deeply into the ground, especially for larger plants.

Plant young but sturdy plants near your frame. Choose woody plants that remain flexible to successfully make a plant grow into a shape. Use younger or slightly more mature vines for a larger topiary. Consider using several vines to cover the topiary frame more quickly.

Secure the plants to the stakes and frames with flexible plastic ties. Secure the plant rather loosely to allow room for growth while you train the plant to grow into a shape.

Clip away excess growth from the plant to create the shape. Leave growth on the plant in the direction you prefer the plant to grow. Continue trimming the plant into shape as it grows.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Plants
  • Plastic or metal stakes
  • Floral tape
  • Floral wire
  • Flexible plastic ties
  • Wire cutters
  • Small-gauge chicken wire
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Pruning shears

About the Author

 

With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.