Condition topiaries with bright light and a moderate temperature.
Create an Ideal Environment
Credit: Helen Norman; Designer: Loi Thai

The Big Idea: Is it too decadent to reserve a room of your home for a special 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 10 years and even occasionally sell them at Tone on Tone (, their Scandinavian antiques store in Bethesda, Maryland. Because topiaries look best displayed in groups, it makes sense to have a feature room with ideal growing conditions.

The Care: In winter, the sunroom above gets around eight hours of sun and has a temperature of about 68 degrees in the daytime and between 58 and 62 at night. "Water consistently," says Loi. "The extra moisture is why my pots get nice and mossy." Good drainage is important; soil should be damp but not stay wet. Myrtles respond well to pruning. Foliage production slows in winter, so most training and shaping occur when plants are actively growing—in spring and summer.

Editor's Tip: 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.