This article accompanies the “Quick Guide to Indoor Topiaries” article in the Early Spring 2016 issue of Garden Design magazine.

Coprosma repens ‘Rainbow Surprise’ sits near a sunny window in an antique marble saucer. Photo by: Rob Cardillo. Pelargonium crispum ‘French Lace’ grows best in a south- or west-facing window. Rotating the plants occasionally allows for all sides to receive equal amounts of sunlight. Photo by: Rob Cardillo. Santolina chamaecyparissus (left and middle) and golden S. virens ‘Lemon Fizz’ (right). Photo by: Rob Cardillo.

Especially during the winter months when the ground is frozen solid and the pleasure of gardening is either a distant memory or a future waiting to unfold, topiaries can fulfill the urge to garden. Here are some tips on caring for indoor topiaries.

  • Let a little light shine in. Light needs depend on the type of plant, but most need bright light and during winter months a few hours of direct sun. Rotate them every few days so all sides of the plant receive equal amounts of light. If they are displayed in a location with low light, leave them there only for a couple of days and then return to a sunny window.
  • Stay sharp. Pruning requires a sharp pair of scissors; place the topiary on a lazy Susan if you have one and spin it around to make sure all sides are trimmed evenly. Trimming back stray branches and half to three-quarters of the new growth will allow the topiary to look freshly coiffed.
  • Water wisely. Water topiary to keep it evenly moist. For best results, place the plant in a sink and water thoroughly, let drain, and move back to its growing location. Never let them sit in a saucer of water, and never let them completely dry out.
  • Infrequent feedings. Fertilize once a month (except during winter), with a well-balanced, water-soluble fertilizer.

Read more about houseplants.
Get more winter gardening inspiration.
Learn about the art of topiary.

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