A Potted Topiary Is in Your Future -- Here's Why

Julia Millay Walsh

Dating back to Roman times, topiaries (shrubs and trees clipped into ornament shapes) have a long history. While gallery-like gardens across the globe have been devoted to topiaries, the horticultural practice is experience a resurgence at home lately, with potted plants popping up everywhere from fireplace mantels to childrens' bedrooms. If you're interested in joining the bandwagon of this trend, read on for some guidelines.


One of the benefits of topiaries is that they're readily available in both preserved or live form. For black thumbs, preserved topiaries -- real, previously living plants -- offer all of the beauty and authenticity of live foliage with none of the required maintenance. Meanwhile live topiaries are just like any other plant, requiring sunlight, water, fertilization, and occasional trimming. One of our favorite resources for both is Fresh Topiary.


What defines topiaries is that they're available in all types of shapes. If you grow yours from a seedling, it's up to you to decide what shape. Nevertheless, store-bought topiaries generally come in a few classic shapes: one, two, or three balls on a stem (the most popular), cones, globes, pyramids, rings, spirals, and wreaths. For the more playful decorator, heart and animal shapes are also available.


The types of plants that can be pruned fall into four categories: shrubs, hedges, vines, and herbs. Common topiary shrubs include boxwood (most common), holly, and laurel. Hedges are often used for taller shapes like spiral and pyramids; good choices include yews, hollies, and Alberta spruce. For the home cook, herbs, such as rosemary, lavender, olive, or thyme, are the optimal pick. For topiaries with a more advanced or playful shape, vines like ivies, angel vine, and creeping figs can be trained to grow around a complex wire or mesh form.


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Olive Tabletop Topiary, $95, Jackson & Perkins Boxwood Cone Topiary, $16, Shop Olive & Rosemary, $75, One Kings Lane
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Preserved Boxwood Double Ball, $45, Amazon Fukushu Kumquat Topiary, $95, Viva Terra Santolina Topiary, $68, Terrain
Source: Carrier and CompanyTraditional HomeLonny, Eric Piasecki for Elle DecorDomino, Miguel Flores-Vianna for Elle DecorSuzanne Eason InteriorsTraditional Home, Steven Gambrel, Lonny 

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