Some of the most beautiful designers have incorporated topiaries into their indoor and outdoor spaces. Topiaries are known for their unique and whimsical shape. There are so many kinds of plants that lend themselves to topiary shapes, such as Cypress, Boxwood, Rosemary, Myrtle, and Ivy. Affectionately nicknamed “Topes”, many people are intimidated by how to care for them but I can assure you it’s not so bad if you follow a few easy guidelines listed below.
The spring and summer time mean longer days and more growth, especially for Myrtle topiaries. It’s important to trim and shape your topiaries during this time to promote new growth for a lush plant. The most popular shapes to emulate are round, elongated, mushroom caps, and cones. Sometimes your plant will tell you exactly what shape it wants to be based upon its natural stem lines. Grab a clean pair of scissors or shears like these and give it a go, being careful to shape the leaves and not cut out the bigger branches. Trimming topiaries twice a week produces a tight topiary. Be selective, but have fun and learn as you go.
Topiaries love some sun, but be careful to not let them dry out. Too much time in the hot sun can burn them and do more harm than good. For the most part they enjoy partial sun and filtered sunlight. Rosemary topiaries, specifically, do best in bright light but away from indirect sunlight. Just a quarter turn once per day, to even out the sun exposure, is all you need to do. And if your topiaries are inside, be sure to look up and make sure they’re not under a vent that will ultimately dry them out. Once the weather starts to turn, be sure your topiaries head indoors. If they are left outside during a frost, they will sadly not survive. Ouch!
Topiaries thrive on a careful watering system. The soil must remain moist and your plant will show signs if it isn’t. When a Myrtle topiary becomes too dry, the leaves will curl, and it will be hard to bring it back. Milton Candelario, from NY Topiary, gave us his best tips for topiaries. He states to “never let a Myrtle dry out” and practices good “watering every other day in the sink and let drain”. In order to avoid any over watering, or root rot, be sure your pot has appropriate drainage with a hole in the bottom. On the other hand, Rosemary topiaries are a little bit more forgiving. Candelario states that “Rosemary is drought tolerant and can dry up between watering.”
My favorite product to use on my topiaries is called Neem Oil. This organic oil spray helps with bug infestations and can also be used as a preventative product even if your plant is healthy. It is non toxic and pro tip: it also wards off mosquitos! A slow release fertilizer is a favorite for topiary owners because it is low maintenance and feeds the plant itself over time. Ideally, the best time to fertilize your plant is when it is healthy, to allow it to continually thrive. A water soluble fertilizer like this one will help create a healthy plant with a strong root system.
Adding some velvet moss or white pea gravel to the top of your topiary will give it added character and style. We even love tying little red bows on them for the holidays. Preserved topiaries are great alternatives to the real deal. Drop them into your favorite pot and no one will know.
Topiaries provide us with an ongoing relationship that involves care that you will take pride in. Next time you see a “tope” in the store, will you give it a try? And if it’s faux, we’ll never tell!
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