Try evergreen English ivy topiaries for a classic look that thrives indoors or out.
The Display: Combine several English ivy topiaries and a clipped lemon cypress to accent a garden table. Mix spirals, globes, columns,
and lollipop shapes of varying heights. Unify the look with terra-cotta pots. We love the flared sides of these by Campo de'
Fiori (campodefiori.com). The topiaries are by Schubert Nursery (schubertnursery.com), available at your local garden center.
The Care: Ivy is happiest outdoors. Plants that come from a warm greenhouse will need protection from freezing temps for the first week, so cover plants or move them inside during freezes. Small containers, especially terra-cotta, need moisture often. Trim and tuck in vines as needed to maintain the shape.
Editor's Tip: In the South, English ivy can handle daylong sun in winter, but by summer it needs afternoon shade.
The Display: Go bold with elegant ivy orbs by the door. Depending on the size of your space, use them alone, as a pair, or even as a trio.
Stagger sizes. Elevate simple globes by planting in classic cast-iron urns with pedestal bases.
The Care: Don't assume your topiaries are getting enough water just because they are outside. This is especially true if they're partially sheltered by an overhang. Water when soil is dry to the touch, and spray foliage with water regularly to prevent spider mites. Though this pest is known to plague indoor plants when conditions are hot and dry, spider mites can also cause problems outside in protected areas.
Editor's Tip: To keep orbs and other shapes lush and free of bare spots, rotate the pots and trim plants to encourage equal growth on all sides.
The Display: Fill the void once occupied by holiday decor with this quick fix from your garden center. English ivy topiaries that are
pretrained on metal forms, like the lollipop and globe shapes above, take up little space but add big flair. To display, line
the bottom of a decorative container with plastic. Then slip in the nursery pot—no replanting needed. Top with sheet moss
to hide the soil and for a more finished look.
The Care: English ivy does best near a bright window and can be enjoyed indoors for short periods if you wet (not mist) the leaves each week to keep them from drying out, which will invite spider mites. To water your plant, remove it from the decorative container, water it, let it drain, and return it to the cachepot.
Editor's Tip: The best way to perk up houseplants this time of year is to water them well and then move them outside for a few hours on a warm, sunny day.
Most topiaries at garden centers are created from English ivy (Hedera helix), but if you would like to make your own, start with an angel vine (Muehlenbeckia complexa). It does well in bright-to-low light, indoor warmth, and slightly moist soil. Plant a 4-inch pot of angel vine in a premoistened
soilless potting mix, such as Miracle-Gro Potting Mix. Insert your topiary frame on top of the plant. Wrap the plant around
the frame to train it, snipping away the excess. If aphids become a problem, spray with Safer Brand Insect Killing Soap.
Note: The container shown is from Napa Home & Garden and available from Collier's Nursery; 205/822-3133. Look for topiary frames at your local garden center or online at topiaryinc.com.