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How to Plant a Self-Contained Moss Topiary Frame

By Fern Fischer ; Updated September 21, 2017

Topiaries are plant sculptures, first popularized as elaborately pruned and trimmed pieces in formal gardens. Today, even inexperienced gardeners can have fun growing a topiary. Shaped wire forms are used as support frames for small climbing and trailing plants. The shaped forms can also be stuffed with sphagnum moss, which becomes a planting medium. The moss filling allows trailing plants to grow roots over the entire surface of the stuffed form, creating a lush, full topiary.

Create a Moss-Filled Topiary

Soak the sphagnum moss in a bucket of water for 10 to 15 minutes. The moss should be completely saturated and sponge-like.

Take a handful of the wet moss from the bucket and squeeze out the excess water. Leave enough water so the moss clings together.

Pack the wet sphagnum moss inside the three-dimensional wire topiary form. As you pack the form, wind nylon fishing line around the moss and the wire to hold the moss in place. Continue packing and winding until the entire wire form is filled with moist sphagnum moss.

Make a small planting hole in the topiary, and insert the plant you have selected. Use several small plants for faster coverage, or use rooted cuttings.

Spread the vines over the moss-filled form. Use hairpins or topiary pins to secure the vines in place. For any roots that are growing along the length of the vine, make a small hole in the moss and gently press the roots into the moss. Secure the vine with a hairpin wherever there are rooting points.

Water the topiary by misting it daily. Keep the moss moist. Use water-soluble fertilizer about once a month in your regular watering routine.

Trim your topiary as the vines grow. Keep it in shape by trimming and pinching back the vines regularly. Follow the shape of the wire form when you trim the plants. Most topiary forms look best when they are covered by no more than 2 inches of greenery. Excess growth masks the intended shape of the topiary form.


Things You Will Need

  • Three-dimensional wire topiary form
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Nylon fishing line, clear
  • Sharp scissors
  • Small-leaved trailing plant
  • Wire hairpins or topiary pins


  • Place the wire topiary form on a tray as you pack it with the wet moss. The sphagnum moss should be wet enough to drip, and the tray will catch the excess water.
  • Two types of plants that are excellent for small topiaries are Creeping Fig (Ficus repens) and Ivy (Hedera species). Both will thrive in the moist moss growing medium, and both grow well indoors or in shady, protected areas outdoors. They root easily as they spread over the moss-filled form.
  • When planting the topiary frame in a pot, place it in the center of the pot and tightly pack the soil around the topiary frame. The topiary frame will be top-heavy after it is filled with moss.

About the Author


Fern Fischer's print and online work has appeared in publications such as Midwest Gardening, Dolls, Workbasket, Quilts for Today and Cooking Fresh. With a broader focus on organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family articles, she specializes in topics involving antique and modern quilting, sewing and needlework techniques.