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Indoor Topiary
by Diana Roberts
Category: Indoors
If you have the time and inclination to change the form of your house plants, you may want to try a topiary design. It is fairly easily done but does take time. Topiary pruning has been practiced in gardens since the Middle Ages and has become popular once again for modern gardeners. Topiary is the art of pruning plant material into unnatural shapes. You may have seen hedges or stand-alone garden plants pruned into animal shapes or fancy designs. What you may not know is that you can also prune indoor plants into topiaries.
Boxwood is a small-leaved shrub which is well known for topiary pruning. The more you prune it, the thicker the bush becomes. Left unpruned, many plants just grow outward but when the growing points are pruned, the plant is forced to produce heavier new growth. When pruning house plants into topiaries, use the same procedure you would use outdoors and you will get the same results.
Small leaves
To start your own topiary, choose a plant which can be shaped into a tree and using sharp pruning shears, cut away growth a bit at a time until you have your desired shape. Small-leaved plants make better indoor topiaries as they will become more compact. You can try any reasonably-priced plant that can be shaped into a tree. As you get more proficient at pruning, you may want to move onto more expensive plants. A beginning pruner may want to start with a simple shape, such as a globe. Once you get better at pruning into shapes, you can use your imagination to create squares, rectangles, hearts or animal shapes.
Keep your topiary healthy with normal watering, fertilizing and proper light for the individual plant. Pruning will have to be done consistently to keep the shape of the plant. You will find that in the summer your plant will be growing faster and therefore need more care than usual. If you tire of the shape you have given your topiary, you can change it by just letting the plant grow then reshape it.
You can also make topiary by attaching small-leaved creeping or twining plants to wire shapes. Just bend wire into whatever shape you choose and then push the base of it firmly into the middle of a pot of soil. You can then plant one to three plants, such as ivy, next to the wire shape. With green thread, tie the plant carefully to the wire frame (be sure not to tie it too tight). As the plant grows, be sure to keep it tied to the frame to create your shape. Prune as necessary if your plant gets out of control.
Mesh bag
Another type of topiary you can create is one which covers an entire ball or square which is filled with moss. Fill a mesh bag with sphagnum moss and wrap wire around in the desired shape. Place the base of the wire into a pot filled with good soil and then plant one to three small-leaved vines around the shape. English ivy is always a good choice for this type of topiary. Keep the moss moist to encourage the plant to completely cover the shape.
Hair pins
To start the plant growing on the shape, you may want to secure it with hair pins. Once the roots take hold in the moss, you will no longer need to use pins to hold it in place. Treat this plant the same as you would other topiaries when it comes to watering, fertilizing and light. Just be sure to always keep the moss moist and keep an eye out for tiny pests. There are so many wonderful things you can do with your houseplants, just let your imagination run wild. Give your plants the basic things they need, then take a chance and see what comes of it!

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