Learn how to create an indoor topiary and bring this beautiful craft into your home. Have you ever marveled at a beautifully-kept lawn or garden that features trees in unique, ornamental shapes? Then you’ve enjoyed the sight of a topiary. Topiary refers to the practice of shaping trees into clearly defined shapes. However, it can also refer to the trees themselves. Topiary has been around since ancient Roman times. Back then, gardeners trimmed trees into elaborate shapes, such as obelisks, ciphers, and animals, in wealthy citizens’ gardens.
While most people imagine topiary as something they would find in an outdoor garden, indoor topiaries are quite popular. In fact, indoor topiaries were already around during those ancient Roman times. Since the introduction of atriums in Roman houses, people created topiaries to decorate an otherwise empty space.
Best Plants to Create an Indoor Topiary
One of the most important considerations for growing topiaries indoors is choosing the right plant. Some good options for indoor topiaries include: boxwood (Buxus sempervirens), holly (Ilex crenata), myrtle (Myrtus communis), lavender (Lavandula stoechas), and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). Once you have selected a plant, it is important to trim it regularly to maintain its shape. It is also important to provide adequate light and water; most indoor topiaries require at least six hours of sunlight per day.
You can use the same features when you’re looking for plants to use for an indoor topiary. These plants should be evergreen, woody, and have dense foliage. However, it’s best to choose plants that are small and compact even when fully matured. If you want to make a hollow or stuffed topiary, you’ll want to use vines.
Types of Indoor Topiary
If you’re just getting started and want an indoor topiary that is easy to create, you can create a hollow topiary. A hollow topiary features a wire frame, fashioned into your desired shape, with the plants wrapped around the edge to make the shaped plant’s final appearance.
First, find a sturdy wire. You can use coat hanger wires or any thick but flexible metal wire. Using a pair of pliers, fashion the wire into your desired shape. Hearts or spheres are excellent choices for beginners, but you can also choose something more intricate such as animals. Alternatively, consider a pre-made topiary frame to make things super easy.
After shaping the frame, fill your pot with a mixture of soil and sand, then place your wire form on top of the dirt. Wrap your plant around the frame. For hollow topiaries, you can use creeping species, such as English ivy or creeping fig. However, you can also use larger species, such as pothos or philodendrons. Use twist ties or cotton twine to secure the vines to the frame.
If you don’t want to use pots and soil, you can create a stuffed topiary. The initial step of making a stuffed topiary is similar to making a hollow topiary: using sturdy and flexible wires, create a frame in your desired shape.
After you are done with the frame, stuff the inside of the frame with pre-moistened sphagnum moss. The sphagnum moss is going to act as your water reservoir. Finally, wrap clear fishing line around the frame to keep the moss inside.
Wrap your desired vines around your stuffed topiary. Smaller and lighter vines such as creeping fig or English ivy are more suited for stuffed topiaries. Since this type of topiary doesn’t use a pot, you can place it on top of a surface or hang it near a window. However, since there is no soil, the sphagnum moss can dry out quickly, so make sure to water this type of topiary every few days.
For those looking for a bit of a challenge with their indoor topiary, a pruned topiary might be right up your alley. This type of topiary requires the most maintenance and takes the longest time and most skill to make. If you want to experience trimming and pruning, as you would for an outdoor topiary, this is the topiary for you.
If you want to start from scratch, you can train young plants to hold a specific shape. The most common plants used for an indoor pruned topiary are lavender and rosemary. However, if you don’t want to spend a lot of time waiting for the plant to grow, you can purchase pre-pruned indoor plants and just maintain the shape.
How to Care for Indoor Topiary Plants
As we all know, indoor plants are still plants. Just like their outdoor cousins, they need to get the right amount of water, sunlight, and temperature to grow and thrive. Here are some tips on proper care for your indoor topiary:
- Prune, prune, prune: keep a regular pruning schedule, so the plant learns to grow in the shape you want. Use a sharp pair of plant scissors to remove any parts of the plant you don’t want. Do not pull or tear off the leaves or vines. Doing so can damage the plant and cause it to wilt.
- Shine some light: make sure your plant is receiving enough sunlight every day. While the amount and intensity of needed light will vary from one plant species to another, most indoor plants thrive in bright but indirect sunlight.
- Water is good: just like with sunlight, the amount of water a plant needs depends on the species. As a rule of thumb, indoor plants you use for an indoor topiary will thrive best in moist, well-draining soil.
- Fertilize only when needed: don’t go overboard with the fertilizer! Once a month is sufficient.
- Guard against pests: even if your plant is indoors, insects and diseases can still attack. Keep a lookout and nip any problems in the bud, as it will be more challenging to control down the road. Indoor pest control is easy with all the options available.
How to Create an Indoor Topiary – The Wrap-up
Successfully growing an indoor topiary is a rewarding experience. Not only do you get the satisfaction of effectively training a plant in a unique and eye-catching way, but you will also enjoy a gorgeous piece of décor. What’s more, you can show off your indoor topiary to visitors, who will undoubtedly be impressed.