How to Make an Evergreen Holly Topiary

Updated February 21, 2017

Topiary trees are shaped evergreen plants that hold a form with wire and some pruning. There are many common plants used for topiaries, but Yaupon holly is an easy-to-work-with choice. Yaupon has fine leaves on flexible stems, which respond well to shaping. It does grow fairly slowly, so a little patience is necessary when creating a topiary. Yaupon holly lends itself to harsh trimming, and the foliage fills in fast after shaping. You can use wire topiary frames or make your own shape to train the holly bush. Simple topiary shapes can be made with canes or just by eying the form and roughly trimming the plant.

Make certain your pruners are sharp so you can make the fine cuts necessary for shaping a topiary. Stroke the blade of the pruners at a slight angle over the file 10 to 20 times. Check the edge by carefully brushing your thumb lightly over the edge in a perpendicular direction.

Roughly cut the shape you are going to make in the holly bush. Push the wire frame into the soil around the pot, and bend any stems that stick out into the wire. Give the plant another shaping to remove any material outside the form after it has been sunk in around the holly.

Wait until growth has filled the interior of the wire frame. During this period, take off errant growth on the exterior of the frame. This can be done monthly to ensure you are keeping up on the shape.

Give the holly plant 1/2 to 1 cup of time-release granular fertiliser. Scratch it into the top 3 inches of soil and then water the plant until puddles form on the surface of the soil. This will feed the plant during the whole season and help encourage the formation of new growth.

Trim the topiary at least twice annually once it has filled in. This will keep the shape crisp and the lines clean. Remove stray branches and lightly clear smaller growth that make the outline fuzzy. Leave the wire frame in the topiary as a support.

Things You'll Need

  • 2- to 3-year-old holly bush
  • Topiary frame
  • Pruners
  • File sharpener
  • Time-release fertiliser
  • Water
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About the Author

Bonnie Grant began writing professionally in 1990. She has been published on various websites, specializing in garden-related instructional articles. Grant recently earned a Bachelor of Arts in business management with a hospitality focus from South Seattle Community College.