Although you can buy topiaries at the nursery, it can be more rewarding to grow and shape your own. Topiaries are best done with trainable shrubs and vines like rosemary, boxwood and holly, and grow most popularly in the shape of a lollipop.
Use rosemary for a small topiary or holly or boxwood for a larger one. Pot the shrub or plant in rich, quick-draining potting soil for more flexible placement, and to protect the plants with indoor locations during the winter. Put a large stake behind the plant in the pot, and tie the main stem or trunk of the plant to the stake.
Allow the plant to grow for several weeks to months before you attempt to train it. Turn the plant often for even growth in the crown, and water it as necessary for the breed. Cut away suckers or shoots growing low on the trunk.
Train the plant once it reaches the height you want. Decide on your design – one, two or three balls, sitting on top of each other – and trim the plant to that design. Pinch or prune away shoots around your design to leave a rough pattern.
Trim and neaten the remaining foliage to accomplish your desired design. Keep in mind that upward shoots grow more quickly and may distract from the pattern of the topiary.
Trim the topiary every one to two weeks to encourage thicker growth and neatness. Always trim to your desired pattern to control the growth.
Tips: Low light leads to sparse growth, and leads to unsatisfactory topiaries. Make sure your plant gets the light and water it needs for best growth.
Never allow the topiary to flower, as this will destroy the pattern.