Home Gardening and Landscaping Topiary: A Comprehensive Guide to Growing, Pruning, and Shaping

Topiary: A Comprehensive Guide to Growing, Pruning, and Shaping

by Gregory
3 minutes read

Topiary: A Comprehensive Guide

What is Topiary?

Topiary is the art of trimming and training plants into various shapes and sizes. These shapes can be simple, like balls or cones, or complex, like animals or figures. Topiary has been around for centuries, and it’s a popular way to add interest and beauty to gardens.

Best Plants for Topiary

The best plants for topiary are small-leaved evergreens that respond well to trimming and look good all year round. Some popular choices include:

  • Box
  • Japanese holly
  • Privet
  • Yew
  • Bay
  • Cupressus ‘Castlewellan’
  • Small-leaved ivy

Where to Place Topiary Plants

Topiary plants are versatile and can be placed in a variety of locations in the garden, including:

  • Pots and containers
  • Front gardens
  • Raised beds
  • Borders
  • Hedges

Growing Topiary in Pots

Topiary plants can be successfully grown in pots. Use a soil-based potting compost and ensure the pot has good drainage. Water regularly and feed in spring with a controlled-release fertilizer.

Pruning Topiary

Regular pruning is essential to maintain the shape of topiary plants. Prune several times during the growing season, making the first trim in late May or early June. Always check for nesting birds before cutting.

Tools for Pruning Topiary

Choose pruning tools according to the size of the plant. Hand shears are fine for small plants, while powered trimmers are easier for large ones. Keep the blades sharp to avoid bruising the cut stems.

Using Topiary Frames

Topiary frames can be used to achieve perfect symmetry on larger pieces. Place the frame over the plant and train the stems to grow within the frame.

Topiary Problems

Box blight and box moth are common problems for box topiary plants. In areas with high rainfall, it’s best to choose an alternative plant, such as Japanese holly. Other problems that can affect topiary plants include:

  • Clipping with blunt pruning tools
  • Pruning in hot, sunny weather

Advice on Buying Topiary Plants

When buying topiary plants, consider the following:

  • The type, shape, and size of plant that suits your space
  • The health of the plant, checking for any brown or yellowing leaves

Where to Buy Topiary Online

There are many online retailers that sell topiary plants. Do some research to find a reputable seller that offers a variety of plants and sizes.


Topiary is a beautiful and versatile addition to any garden. With a little care and attention, you can grow and maintain healthy topiary plants that will add interest and beauty to your outdoor space for years to come.

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