Three-Tier Topiary

Check out our tips for making a super-simple triple-decker topiary.

Ivy is readily available in garden centers year-round, and it quickly clambers along a frame. For fastest results, purchase an ivy hanging basket with roughly 20 stems that are 24 to 36 inches long. Transfer the plant to a container, and add the topiary frame.


1. Train. Wind the inner strands of ivy around the wire frame.

2. Trail. Allow the outer stems of ivy to cascade over the edges of the pot. As new growth occurs at the tips of the strands, remove the leaves on the vines that form the "trunk" of the topiary.

3. Trim. To keep your topiary lush and full, trim new growth frequently, never allowing shoots to exceed three inches. Ivy needs bright, indirect light for best growth.

Interested in more projects? Use poultry wire to create your own outdoor lights.

Topiary Tips

Shape and trim. If you purchase mature plants, all you'll need to do is shape and trim them. Or you can start with young plants and grow them until they're big enough to train. Sculpt the shape. For plants such as the santolina or rose, decide how tall you want your topiary to be. When the plant is tall enough, cut off most of the branches along the main stem, leaving enough on top for a good shape. To make a multitrunked topiary such as the myrtle, leave a few branches on the main stem, then trim the stem and branches, leaving tufts of twigs and leaves on the ends.

Prune regularly. The most important step in caring for a topiary is regular pruning. Snip new growth before shoots exceed 3 inches. This promotes branching, which keeps the plant full. Be courageous; the more you cut back, the healthier your topiary will be.

Create blooming topiaries. You can train many flowering plants as topiaries. If fragrance ranks high on your list, create a topiary gardenia or stephanotis. Other blooming beauties to consider are scented geraniums, pineapple sage, hibiscus, lantana, azalea, or camellia. Herbs such as rosemary and sage also make wonderful topiaries.

Train vines, too. You can find wire frames for vining plants at your local florist or garden center. A florist can also order unusual frames, such as the candelabra.

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