What plant to use for topiary?

Gretchen - 5(Mi)April 15, 2000

I recently purchased 2 topiary forms for use in my garden. Both are animal shapes, approximately 15" tall. I've never planted a topiary before, and need advice on what plant to use. I live in zone 5, and I don't want to have to bring the forms inside in the winter. What plant would be appropriate for a beginner? (I'm open to using a tender annual also, and replanting each year.) Thanks!

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Claude Sweet - 9A

Small leafed ivy or ficus are excellent if you are using a moss lined form and planting cuttings into the form.

If you are trimming shrubs into a specific shape, I would suggest choosing a small leafed shrub that tolerates being clipped. Boxwood comes to mine, but I am sure there are lots of other shrubs. I would imagine that an evergreen shrub would be preferred to a deciduous shrub.

Claude Sweet
San Diego, CA

    Bookmark   April 15, 2000 at 8:09PM
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You might check out a great topiary site (below) and see what they recommend about how to plant your topiary.

Here is a link that might be useful: Samia Rose Topiary

    Bookmark   April 16, 2000 at 2:52AM
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Mary-Jane Emmet - 5

if deer are not a problem, try yew - it's wonderful. small-leaved boxwood are also good if you're not in a hurrry and your form is not too large. Scented geraniums might work - especially for standards. Meserve hollies as well if your form is not too small.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2000 at 9:39AM
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Lonicera nitida, or Japanese box honeysuckle (which actually comes from China) has very small leaves and twiggy growth. Grows quickly and is very hardy. This shrub takes kindly to constant clipping and is easy to grow from cuttings.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2000 at 3:03PM
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Joanie Finch - 8 and 9

Buxus 'Winter Gem' and 'Green Beauty' are very hardy and work well up to 3 and 4'. Pyracantha is fast if you don't mind thorns.Ivy is perfect for shade and for forms that are open, such as hearts.
Happy planting.
Joanie Finch

    Bookmark   April 19, 2000 at 12:58AM
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Tally - OR-8

Another plant that might work for you is an upright fuchsia. I have had some experience training a dwarf species we called "hummingbird" onto small topiary frames, I don't see why you couldn't do the same with a more standard sized species plant. Try a Hardy fuchsia, and train the tender new growth around the wires, and pin the stems if necessary until the stems have become woody and will stay on their own. Trim off areas that won't fit into the shape. By continuous pinching of the newest tips of the plant it will become bushy and beautiful. While you are encouraging new growth, make sure to trim off the developing flowers because they rob valuable nutrients away from foliage growth. I hope this gives you some useful ideas, and have fun! --Tally

    Bookmark   April 19, 2000 at 2:45PM
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Denise - Pa. 5-6

Hollies also work well for topiary.Denise

    Bookmark   April 21, 2000 at 9:09AM
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susan Follas - zone 6

can holly bushes be made into a topiary? I have one that has a longer trunk than the other and I thought maybe I could try it, what do you think?

    Bookmark   May 31, 2000 at 6:56PM
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Anna - MD zone 6/7

What about vinca minor? It is hardy and grows fast.... I'm thinking about trying that. Anyone else tried it?

    Bookmark   December 19, 2000 at 2:47PM
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The choices are many, boxwood (English, African, Japenese, etc etc) is a good robust choice. Keep in mind though that there are many differnet plants that could be used. In general you are looking for a relatively compact and dense shrub that readily branches. The other issues to contend with are leaf size and plant growth. In the case of leaf size the size of the cage is the determining factor the smaller the cage the smaller the leaf size needed in order to maintain the shape of the display. In plant selection you have trade offs. For example your box woods, are typically slower growing which means they require less maintenance, but take longer to grow out a cage. Your pine needle type evergreens (ie Diasoma-Austalian Name) on the other hand fill in quicker but require more frequent pruning. Now if you are looking for almost instant results try stuffing the cage with long fiber moss and using Ivy or creeping fig. It will still take some time for the the frame to cover completely but the moss filled frame looks good by itself. I've seen a few displays that used only moss.

Hope this helps


    Bookmark   February 13, 2001 at 3:48AM
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Chick Luckanish - 6

When is the best time to trim an English Boxwood ?

    Bookmark   March 7, 2001 at 4:26AM
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The following works well for me when maintaining boxwood

During the late part of Winter or early Spring, is the best season to prune most plants do to this being prior to the beginning of growth. You will want to head back branches that have flower buds. Avoid pruning frozen wood.

During the late Spring and early Summer you will start to experience the greatest growth. Remove some of the oldest canes of mature shrubs after flowering. By pinching out tips you will encourage branching which results in a bushy fuller plant. This is the plants survival mechanism working to your advantage. Pinch any buds that may be starting undesired growth.

Summer pruning entails removal of plant parts that are actively at work.

During the summer you will want to prune regularly to maintain the appearance and shape of your topiary. Always be ready to pinch tips of leafy shoots, but wait until after any flowering.

At the end of summer you will want to limit pruning as new growth could possibly be damaged by the lower winter temperatures.

Prune shrubs once more in September, especially to remove basal suckers.

Happy clipping

PS If you have a question you want answered you would be better off posting it as a new post so it ends up on the board and not as a thread (Sub question).

Kind Regards


    Bookmark   March 9, 2001 at 6:52PM
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I am new to gardening and topiaries and am working to restore a 4.5 ft tall gorilla topiary. The metal frame was stuffed with what looks like peat moss and soil and secured with fishing wire. A few plant spores have seeded themselves but for the most part the gorilla is bare and the soil/moss mixture has eroded. The topiary is equipped with an internal hose and can be saturated easily. I would like to remove the remaining moss/soil and grow irish and scotch moss. Does anyone have any experience with this? What is the best way to grow the moss? Where is the best place to get it, anywhere in the Puget Sound area? Do you feel it will take root even though it needs well drained soil? I would rather not do ivy but are there other plants that may work well in this project? I have a picture of the gorilla if that would help you offer advice. Thank you!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2003 at 1:35PM
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what type of person is suitable for being a topiary gardener

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 1:08PM
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