Best plants for topiary – 9 of the best to clip into shapes

1. Buxus Sempervirens – Box

Small leaves and dense texture make box the classic choice as a plant for topiary. Box is a surface rooter and likes a cool, well-aerated rooting area. The ideal site is deep, fertile, well-drained soil in a sheltered, partly shaded spot. However, it is a very adaptable plant and will grow in most situations apart from waterlogged soil.

2. Ligustrum Delavayanum – Delavay Privet

This hardy evergreen is not susceptible to the pests and diseases that box plants can get. Long pliable stems make it particularly useful for winding onto frames. Delavay privet is a compact shrub with ovate dark green leaves, panicles of small white flowers in early summer, followed by blue-black berries. It grows in sun or part shade in any moist, well-drained soil and tolerates most soil types and all aspects, and is also drought tolerant.

3. Ilex – Holly

With glossy leaves and berries, English holly is one of the best plants for topiary and has the advantage that it is slow-growing and only needs trimming occasionally.

4. Pittosporum

This neat, evergreen shrub needs a sheltered, sunny position in any well-drained soil. There are different foliage colors to choose from with pittosporum. Select the small leaved types as plants for topiary and more vigorous than box, you will need to clip these twice a year, in spring and fall, to keep the shapes neat.

5. Photinia

These small-leafed shrubs and trees make ideal privacy hedges and attractive standard lollipops with their bright red glossy leaf tips, as they respond well to pruning as plants for topiary. They tolerate most soil types, apart from heavy clay or being waterlogged, and prefer a full sun position. Once established they rarely need watering and tolerate mild drought conditions.

6. Euonymus ‘Emerald N Gold’

This is a slow-growing compact evergreen shrub that tends to be pest and disease-free. It clips well into simple geometric shapes and can also be used as a hedging and groundcover or among plants for pots all year round.

7. Camellia

Among the best shrubs for shade, camellias are also excellent as plants for topiary. Boasting dark glossy green leaves, they also have the added bonus of showy flowers. As they re-sprout from bare wood they can be used for topiary and hedging. Select a slow-growing variety to cut down on the amount of clipping needed. For a standard or lollipop, look for a nice strong central trunk and remove side shoots until you have the head forming at the top, which can take a few seasons, so don’t be too harsh.

8. Laurus Nobilis – Bay

With their architectural, narrow, leathery aromatic leaves, which are often used in cooking, bay trees are equally at home as statement topiary potted standards flanking a door, or in productive gardens surrounded by herbs. Ideal in English garden schemes, grow these topiary plants in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun. Small star-shaped flowers are followed by purple-black fruit on female plants.

9. Trachelospermum Jasminoides – Star Jasmine

Ideal for a quicker result, star jasmine is a vigorous fast growing flowering vine that will twine through a frame, and also provide fragrant flowers in summer and leaves that turn red in winter.

Follow us on Social Media