How To Add Live Foliage to a Topiary Frame

How-to Instructions for adding ivy or vine foliage to a frame topiary
Step by Step Instructions to Establishing Topiary Frames

A) Start with a frame that’s wider at the base than at the top. If you are creating a special shape, make sure to securely stake down the base of the topiary and consider adding stakes to support the top of the frame. Take time to secure the base where it enters the soil and supports the frame at the top by lashing it to a sturdy bamboo stick. Once the plant starts to take over the frame, it may get heavy and be difficult to manage. The initial set-up is critical for a topiary that will survive whatever weather occurs.

B) As the vine grows, work it into the frame regularly. The plant will seek to grow up. If it reaches the top of your topiary frame and escapes too soon in the growing season, the vine will form a tangled mat and may strangle itself. Part of the topiary artform is letting the plant fill the structure over time. If you have a particular shape you need to fill, you may need to plant another vine rootstock to fill the frame. Topiary animals can be challenging to fill successfully if you have a special event early in the summer, so be ready to add more plants as needed.

C) Fasten the vine to the frame at points across the structure with a lightweight, weather-resistant nylon product. The fishing line will work as long as the outer skin of the vine won’t be cut by the line. If the line is particularly sharp or the vine especially tender, consider using a thicker nylon cord to secure the vine for the initial training stage.

D) As the vine grows, monitor it frequently and tuck new growth into the topiary mesh. After a heavy rain, check the stability of the topiary frame and add additional bracing if needed. Consider thinning the fine if the leaf cover is heavy enough to serve as a wind block as this can make your topiary vulnerable to tipping over in a strong breeze.

E) Successful topiary vines will be fast-growing and aggressive. While this may be the best option for the special shape you’re working to build, be aware that these plants can be invasive in the environment. If you’re constructing a topiary feature in a pot, monitor new growth so it doesn’t spread from the pot to the surrounding soil. Depending on where you live, a fast-growing ivy or sweet potato plant can turn from a one-time topiary to a yearly challenge.
Horse Frame Adding Foliage
Horse Frame Adding More Vine Foliage

What Plants Are Good for Adding Foliage to a Topiary Frame

Below is a list of plants that we recommend to fill your topiary frame. Rosemary is the plant we suggest, we also sell this topiary whole. Please visit your local nursery for their best recommendation depending on your area.

Ivy Plant

On the level ground they remain creeping, not exceeding 5–20 cm height, but on suitable surfaces for climbing, including trees, natural rock outcrops or man-made structures such as quarry rock faces or built masonry and wooden structures, they can climb to at least 30 m above the ground. Ivies have two leaf types, with palmately lobed juvenile leaves on creeping and climbing stems and unlobed cordate adult leaves on fertile flowering stems exposed to full sun, usually high in the crowns of trees or the tops of rock faces, from 2 m or more above ground.


Jasmines can be either deciduous (leaves falling in autumn) or evergreen (green all year round), and can be erect, spreading, or climbing shrubs and vines. Their leaves are borne opposite or alternate. They can be simple, trifoliate, or pinnate. The flowers are typically around 2.5 cm (0.98 in) in diameter. They are white or yellow in color, although in rare instances they can be slightly reddish.

Smaller frames can be easily assembled just like the larger ones.
These frames open for easy assembly around the plant or you can also wrap the vines up and around the frame

Add Ivy to a Dolphin Frame Topiary
Add More Ivy to a Dolphin Frame Topiary to Get a Fuller Look
Adding Ivy To a Swan Topiary Frame
Adding More Ivy To a Swan Topiary Frame
Complete Ivy Swan Topiary Frame. The rest of the frame will fil over time as the ivy grows.
Japanese Boxwood

They are slow-growing evergreen shrubs and small trees, growing to 2–12 m (rarely 15 m) tall. The leaves are opposite, rounded to lanceolate, and leathery; they are small in most species, typically 1.5–5 cm long and 0.3-2.5 cm broad, but up to 11 cm long and 5 cm broad in B. macrocarpa. The flowers are small and yellow-green, monoecious with both sexes present on a plant. The fruit is a small capsule 0.5-1.5 cm long (to 3 cm in B. macrocarpa), containing several small seeds.

Creeping Fig

As the common name, “creeping fig” indicates, the plant has a creeping/vining habit and is often used in gardens and landscapes. It is not frost-hardy, and in temperate regions is often seen as a houseplant. It is fast-growing and requires little in the way of care.


The plant is an evergreen shrub or small tree, growing to 5 meters (16 ft) tall. The leaf is entire, 3–5 cm long, with fragrant essential oil. The star-like flower has five petals and sepals, and numerous stamens. Petals usually are white. The flower is pollinated by insects. The fruit is a round berry containing several seeds, most common blue-black in color. A variety of yellow-amber berries is also present. The seeds are dispersed by birds that eat the berries.


Rosemary is an aromatic evergreen shrub that has leaves similar to hemlock needles. The leaves are used as a flavoring in foods such as stuffings and roast lamb, pork, chicken and turkey. It is native to the Mediterranean and Asia but is reasonably hardy in cool climates. It can withstand droughts, surviving a severe lack of water for lengthy periods.

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