A growing trend in gardening is to add wire formed animals such as Lions; turtles; horses and alligators to the home landscape.

Some Of The Tools You May Need

Transplant fertilizer; Water-soluble fertilizer; secateurs; pencil; crochet hook; long fibered Peat moss; water; kitchen knife; soil less mix; topiary shears.

Warning: Never use soil-less mixes or any form of peat moss in a dry state. They pose a respiratory hazard. They can also hold up to fifteen times their own weight in water. This will make them very heavy. Therefore large Topiaries should be planted as close as possible to their final position in the home landscape.

Topiary lion made from Spider Plant and Creeping Jenny.
Topiary lion made from Spider Plant and Creeping Jenny.

These wire forms are either pre-stuffed or you fill it yourself with long fibered Peat Moss. The larger forms are usually constructed in two half's which are later locked together with lock ties. If they are pre-stuffed remove the center of the peat from the body and take your selected plants and tip them up inside the cavity. Using a crochet hook or pencil gently pull the plants leaves up through the wires. If the plant is very large then you can take the wire snipes and cut several wires to allow the plant to be positioned. The wires can then be folded back in to secure the plant in place. In smaller diameter areas of the wire form small plants can be tucked in by bending the wires then using the crochet hook or pencil to create a hole where the plant can be inserted. The peat Moss is firmed around its roots and the wires if necessary can then be bent back into their original position. These procedures are repeated until the topiary form is as covered as much as you want. The general rule for the spacing of the plants is small plants two to three inch centers vines are usually placed on six-inch centers. Large plants can be divided into smaller plants by carefully cutting their root balls with a sharp kitchen knife or secateurs.

  • Topiary Turtle.
    Topiary Turtle.
  • Topiary Horse.
    Topiary Horse.


The Soil less mix or long fibered Peat Moss has no nutrient value. So when you have completed planted your Topiary water in the plants with a transplant fertilizer containing a rooting hormone. On a regular basis fertilizer the animals with 20-20-20 for green growth, or 15-30-15 for flowering.

Bruce Zimmerman surrounded by topiary enemies.
Bruce Zimmerman surrounded by topiary enemies.


Use ferning pins to tack vines to the long fibered Peat Moss and trim regularly with scissors or secateurs.


Watering depends a lot on the demand by the plant material and there growing environment. Adjust your watering appropriately. Topiaries will generally dry out quickly so check them daily until you see their watering pattern.

Over Wintering Topiary

Best stored in a bright frost free area reduce their watering but never let them dry out. If they are to big to move try this, place stakes in the ground and wrap a single thickness of burlap one to two inches above the ground and one foot above the top of the Topiary and open at the top. In harsh climates stuff the burlap with straw.

Some Recommended Plants For Your Topiaries

  • Hens & Chicks (Sempervivum) – Full sun tolerant of drought.
  • Vinca (Vinca Minor) – Tolerates dry shade.
  • Vinca (Vinca M. Aureo-variegata) – Partial shade / shade.
  • Stonecrop (Sedum) – Full sun rich moist well-drained.
  • Ajuga (Ajuga M. Crispa) – Rich moist well-drained.
  • Sedum (Sedum Acre) – Moist well-drained tolerant of drought.
  • Black Brass Buttons (Lepinellas Platt's Black) – Moist full sun partial shade well-drained.
  • Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia Nummularia) – Partial shade / full shade moist soil.
  • Hutchinsia (Hutchinsia Alpina) – Full sun well-drained.
  • Saxifrage (Saxifraga) – Full sun / partial shade.
  • Creeping Fig (Ficus Pumila) – Moist well-drained no direct sun.
  • Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon) – Full sun well-drained moist.
  • Dianthus (D. Tiny Rubies) – Alkaline moist well-drained sun.
  • Baby Tear's (Helxine Soleirolii) – Moist shade well-drained. Difficult to grow.
  • Thyme (Thymus) – Drought-tolerant moist well-drained sun.
  • Arabis (Arabis Alpina Variegata) – Moist well-drained sun.
  • Armeria Maritima (Sea Thrift) – Moist well-drained full sun.
  • Galium Odoratum (Sweet Woodruff) – Moist rich well-drained.
  • Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum) – Moist well-drained full sun.
  • Pussy Toes (Antennaria) – Full sun.
  • Carex (Carex) – Moist well-drained partial shade.
  • Cotton Lavender (Santolina Chamaecyparissus) – Moist well-drained full sun.
  • Polk-a-Dot Plant (Hypoestes) – Moist well-drained sun. Cut back for best colour.
  • Kew Euonymus (Euonymus F. Kewensis) – Moist sun / shade.
  • English Ivy (Hedera Helix) – Moist well-drained sun / shade.
  • Lily Turf (Liriope) – Partial shade moist well-drained.
  • Candytuft (Iberis) – Moist well-drained full sun.
  • Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia Maritima) – Moist sun annual.

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