Tutorial for Planting and Growing Topiaries
Place the topiary form over a living plant
Place the empty frame over a live plant and let the plant (box wood, euonymus, ivy) grow into the form. Trim the plant until it fills the form. Once planted, fast growing and small-leaved ivy can completely cover a small to medium wire frame, creating a topiary in a few short months.
Add plants to the outside of the mossed frame
Soak the moss filled form in water and let drain. If you have 'cell pack' sized plants (3/4"-1 " sq.) you can poke a hole into the damp moss from the outside of the form and insert the plant.
Add plants to the inside of the wire frame
Soak the moss filled form in water and let drain. Snip the plastic connecting ties and open the form into its parts. (exclusive to our topiary) Pull out some of the moss. Remove a little of the soil from around the root ball and insert your plant into the form. Wiggle the leaves up through the wires. Repack the moss around the roots. When planted, reattach the form with the cable ties provided.
Water with starter fertilizer 10-52-10, and keep in a shaded area, out of the wind for several days before moving to the selected area in your garden. Check for water daily, as you would a hanging basket. Fertilize every other week with a 20-20-20.
Use plant selection to mimic animal texture and color
Take a few moments and study the look of the animal you are replicating - pay close attention to its textures and colors. Are they smooth, fluffy or maybe scaly? Consider fur, feathers, manes and coats, and don't forget details like whiskers for kittens, stripes for bees, and eyes for personality. Then look for plants which best represent the those characteristics. For instance, grasses would be a good choice to represent a long slim mane and tail on a horse. Low growing plants like sedums, will give the body a smooth look, and are also a good drought tolerant pick.
The use of color is always fun, and plant color can create a pattern in your animal. To make a pattern, use a plant that is available in two colors like sedum acre in the green and gold. It can also be an unexpected bonus when your plant flowers. For instance, a horse could have a dark mane and tail, and light body (or vice versa)
Choose a plant with a leaf size that is small enough for the frame
Scale is simple: the smaller the animal the smaller leaved plants work best. The idea is to compliment not overwhelm the form. Smaller leaved plants work best on smaller animals. The idea is to compliment, not overwhelm the form.
Choose plants that like similar conditions
It is best to use a mix of plants that like the same growing conditions. Succulents are a good drought tolerant choice. Rockery type plants which are invasive and low growing make great topiaries. Because smaller portions of the topiary (ears, legs, tails) tend to dry out faster than fuller areas, it may be necessary to leave some areas just mossed as plants can quickly wilt in these thin or elevated areas in dry conditions.
Determing the how many plants to use to fill the wire frame topiary
Are you having a garden party and need spectacular results, instantly? Plant every 2 inches. If you plan to watch the season's growth unfold, plant every 4 to 6 inches.
Storing a topiary during the winter
Water well before frost, mulch and /or move to a protected area or unheated garage near a window (water about once a month)