Topiary shrubs in a garden.

What Plants to Use to Create a Topiary

In a cool conservatory; sun-room, or entrance porch a perfectly-clipped piece of topiary makes a dramatic focal point, in the same way as a statue or ornament.

Small-leaved, slow-growing evergreen plants are ideal for clipping into formal or fun shapes. They can be purchased pre-shaped, or trained from an early age by using a preformed wire shape. Trim regularly with pruners to keep it within the framework.

As the plant ages and reaches the desired shape, it will need only a regular trim to keep it within the outline.

This can be done by pinching as soon as shoots emerge beyond the outline, or in spring and early fall using hand shears.

Training Plants

Many houseplants originate in the wild as rampant climbers, trailers, and scram­blers, holding onto their support by means of aerial roots, twining tendrils, or twisting stems. These plants need to be trained against a wall or frame to keep their growth — which is often inclined to be straggly if left to itself — under control.

Plants such as hoya, thunbergia, and Ficus pumila naturally trail, but they too can be grown against frames to display their flow­ers or foliage to full advan­tage. The support should suit the plant — a large plant, such as monstera, needs a sturdy frame, while a delicate plant, such as passiflora needs a more delicate one in order to create a balanced display.

Supports and ties

There is a wide variety of frames available, made from wire, bamboo, plastic, and rattan. The plant’s stems are tied in place using string, twisties, wire rings, or twine — tightly enough to hold them in place, but not so tight that they constrict or bite into the tissue. Against a wall — in a conservatory, for example — the stems can be held in place using small nails with plastic hoops attached and garden twine as ties.


Plants for Training

Young plants can be trained on smaller frames, but large ones need to progress to a more substantial support

Training on a wall or large frame Training on a moss pole Training on a small frame
Bougainvillea X Fatshedera lizei Ficus pumila
Cissus Ficus pumila Hoya
Hedera Monstera Pelargonium
Jasmine Philodendron
Plumbago auriculata