Making an Ivy Topiary

Vines can offer a unique and whimsical look like few other plants. And what's interesting to me is that you can take a common, everyday plant like English ivy and transform it into something fantastic by training it onto a wire topiary form.

Follow these steps to create a simple ivy topiary.

Materials:

  • 24-inch Pot
  • 36-inch lollipop topiary form (available at antique shops, craft stores, etc.)
  • potting soil
  • three 6" pots of English ivy*
  • green dental floss
  • sheers or gardening scissors
  • watering can
  • liquid houseplant fertilizer

Directions:
Fill your container with potting soil leaving about 3-inches of space between the top of the soil and the rim of the container.

Secure the topiary form in the center of the container by burying several inches of the base beneath the potting soil. For this particular project I used a 36-inch tall, lollipop form, but there are other shapes and sizes available. Just be sure to select a container that is proportional to your form.

Plant the ivy or other type of vining plant around the base of the form. Position the plants so that the longest tendrils are closest to the form.

Wind the plant tendrils up the form and loosely secure with green dental floss.

After planting, water the soil and feed the plant every 10 days or so with an all purpose liquid fertilizer diluted according to the package instructions.

As the vines grow continue to train them up the form.  As they fill out clip them to maintain the shape.

You'll find that by starting with large plants such as the 6-inch pots of ivy that your topiary will fill in within one growing season.

Caring for Your English Ivy Topiary:

English ivy will grow both indoors and outside.  In the house place them in bright, filtered light in a room that stays on the cool side.  Outdoors your ivy will thrive in shade to partial shade.  English ivy is cold hardy and will survive the winter in zones 5 through 11.  Gardeners in areas colder than those growing zones should bring ivy topiaries indoors for winter.  

Whether your ivy is indoors or out, the care of the plants is similar: keep the soil consistently moist, but not soggy and during the growing season use a liquid houseplant fertilizer mixed at half strength every 7 to 10 days.  The most common pest on ivy houseplants is the spider mite.  Keep ahead of them with a bi-monthly application of insecticidal soap, following the label instructions.

To keep your ivy topiary in good shape, pinch back new growth and weave tendrils back into the form.

*The fast growing nature of English ivy (Hedera helix) makes it ideal for topiaries, but it is also extremely invasive.  So limit your use of this plant to containers.  Other ivies that are not invasive can be used too.

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