Create a Herb Topiary

Image via Deposit Photos

Discover the techniques of training a plant into a topiary form. Plus learn tips for caring for your topiary.

Herb Topiary How-to


Shards of clay pots

4-inch plastic pot

Potting-soil medium

1 young, fresh plant, such as culinary bay, myrtle or rosemary

Bamboo stake (should be the same size as the full-grown topiary will be)



Fertilizer, such as fish emulsion


  1. Place the pot shard over the drainage hole in the plastic pot. Fill the pot with sterilized potting soil mixture and plant your desired plant.
  2. Decide what shape and size you want the topiary to be. A standard topiary (in which the plant’s tall stem grows alongside a bamboo stake and ends with a balled top), a spiral or a three-tiered standard topiary are some of these choices. Cut the stake to the desired height and insert it into the center of the pot, directly beside the plant.
  3. As the plant grows taller, train the stem by tying the plant to the stake with small strips of raffia and pinching off any growth that emerges from the stem. Removing any shoots and growth along the stem creates a smooth stem when the topiary reaches full height. Prune off any flowers that appear while the topiary is taking shape so that the energy of the plant is directed to vegetative growth.
  4. When the topiary plant is large enough and has a substantial amount of vegetative growth, trim the growth with scissors to the shape you’d like. Continuing to groom the plant as it grows, and removing growth along the stem, will allow you to keep the topiary in its desired shape. Transplant into larger pots if needed.
  5. Feed the topiary once a month from the middle of February until late November with a fertilizer such as fish emulsion. Water the topiary regularly; do not let the soil dry out. If you’re transplanting the topiary from a plastic pot into a clay pot, be especially careful that the soil medium does not become too dry.

Atlock Farm
545 Weston Canal Road
Somerset, NJ 08873
Open Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Wilson Bros. Gardens

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