How To Care For Myrtle Topiaries

Topiaries need bright light and a moderate temperature.

Create an Ideal Environment
Photo: Helen Norman; Designer: Loi Thai

Add a touch of greenery to any space by cultivating topiaries. Plants, trees, and shrubs that keep a compact shape when trimmed are ideal, including holly laurel, boxwood, and myrtle.

So, is it too decadent to reserve a room in your home for a unique plant collection? Not if you're an enthusiast like designer Loi Thai. He and partner Tom Troeschel have grown myrtles (Myrtus communis 'Compacta') in their Washington, D.C., home for more than ten years and even occasionally sell them at Tone on Tone, their Scandinavian antique store in Bethesda, Maryland. Because topiaries look best displayed in groups, having a feature room with ideal growing conditions makes sense.

As one of the more popular choices, myrtle topiaries flourish with a showing of dense foliage and flowers, which release a sweet fragrance during spring and summer. In the winter, it is essential to trim topiaries to maintain proper care. Here are a few more tips for caring for myrtle topiaries to get the best results.

What Is a Myrtle Topiary?

Myrtle topiaries (Myrtus communis) have lush verdant foliage and tiny white flower blossoms. The "common myrtle" is a shrub or small tree that can grow up to 16 feet tall and needs pruning to form a desired shape. This plant is native to Asian countries and throughout the Mediterranean regions. As topiaries, myrtles are excellent indoor plants because they grow well if given the proper sun exposure, and the blooms emit pleasant fragrances.

How To Care For a Myrtle Topiary


Keep myrtle topiaries in a room that receives at least eight hours of sun during the winter. It is preferable that the temperature stays between 58°F and 62°F at night and reaches 68°F during the day.


"Water consistently," says Loi. "The extra moisture is why my pots get nice and mossy." Good drainage is essential because the soil should be damp but not stay wet. Mist plants often. Heating systems can dry out air and plants. If leaves curl or drop, your plant was dry for too long. Toss it, as myrtles rarely survive once they've completely dried out.


Myrtles respond well to pruning. Foliage production slows in winter, so most training and shaping occur when plants actively grow—in spring and summer.

Pruning is an opportunity to shape myrtle topiaries. Begin by visualizing the form you want for your plants before removing any branches. (Using a wire mesh can help you visualize the shape.) Always use clean pruning shears because you don't want to spread fungi or bacteria through the branches.

You can start pruning by first removing the lower branches, leaving some depending on the maturity of the plant. Next, shape the crown by cutting back branches to match your design and promote new growth on the interior for a more dense arrangement.

Even during the first few growing years, beginning to prune myrtle topiaries in the desired shape will help it to develop the way you envision.

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