Ivy Topiary Made Easy A DIY guide and helpful care tips


Ivy Topiary Made Easy
  • Posted November 6, 2014

Topiary is a fun way to incorporate plants that suite your style within your home. Topiary is the practice of shaping living plants into beautiful forms through the training and trimming of leaves and stems. The plants continue to grow; as such, this type of living sculpture is flexible to change and perfect for beginners and experienced enthusiasts alike. Ivy (Hedera helix) is a relatively forgiving, easy-care, starter topiary plant. Additionally, its bendable vines may be shaped to a wire form or trimmed, so the topiary takes shape in shorter time than non-vining plants.

To start, choose a decorative container with drainage holes in the bottom because the plant’s roots should not sit in water. The pot should be heavy enough that the topiary will not be apt to tip over. Depending on the size of the decorative container you choose, select 1-4 ivy plants that will fit the proportion of the container and fill out the topiary form. Once the ivy is planted in the container, secure the topiary form in the soil. Weave the ivy vines along the wire form, which provides underlying structure to the final shape, and then trim stray leaves and stems to give the topiary a more precise and defined shape. As the ivy continues to grow, weave new vines into the established form to maintain a full, symmetrical shape.

Secret to Success: Occasionally remove the vine tips to promote bushier new growth.

Along with training the ivy, provide good care to the plants so they remain healthy.

Location: Provide medium to bright light conditions and no direct sun. Place the plant away from heating vents or radiators.

Water: Keep soil evenly moist.

Fertilize: Once every month during growing season.

Humidity: If the topiary is in a warm, dry room, then it will benefit from regular misting.

Container: Repot the topiary into a slightly larger container every 2 years.

Looking for ideas of a topiary shape that suits your personality? 

Try one of these:

circle topiary illustration

Circle Shape (beginner technique):

1. Start by firmly affixing a round wire frame in the soil surface.

2. Weave the ivy vine and use raffia to loosely attach the ivy vines along the form. The raffia may eventually be removed, once the plant is established in its shape.

3. To create the appearance of a symmetrical, full circle, train vines going both directions around the circular form.

Obelisk Topiary Illustration

Obelisk Shape (beginner technique):

1. Start by firmly affixing an obelisk frame in the soil surface.

2. Weave the ivy vine and use raffia to loosely attach the ivy vines along the form. The raffia may eventually be removed, once the plant is established in its shape.

3. To create the appearance of a symmetrical obelisk, place separate ivy plants to grow up each of the obelisk’s corners.

Ball and Stem Topiary Illustration

Ball and Stem Shape (advanced technique):

1. Start by selecting the strongest vines; trim back any short, thin vines. Remove the leaves from the bottom portion of the vines.

2. Divide the selected vines into 3 groups. Loosely braid the stems together and fasten with raffia (leave the vine tips with leaves loose).

3. Secure an upright stake, with a floral foam ball stuck on the top, 1” (3cm) from the ivy root ball in the soil. Attach the braided vines to the stake with inconspicuous floral wire.

4. Wrap the loose vine tips of the braid around the floral foam ball at the top of the stake, until the ball form is fully covered. To maintain the right look, remove any leaves that form on the braided trunk.

5. Step it up even more by adding a second stake and floral foam ball atop the first!



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About the Author

Tamara Horne is an ecologist, a knitter, Garden Communicator (GWA) member, and horticulturist at MasterTag – a horticultural printing company.


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