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Fresh and Faux Topiary and Greenery: How to Grow and Decorate with Them

I love including plants in my design projects and in my own home. A home without plants or flowers doesn’t look finished or feel inviting.  

Maybe they’re passé, or maybe they aren’t but either way – – topiary are still my favorite thing to have in the home. Unfortunately topiary doesn’t generally care for living indoors all year long. If you’re lucky enough to have a greenhouse you can rotate your topiary every three to six months but if not, let me introduce you to one of the best-selling items in my design stores: faux floral, topiary and greenery. I know, I know. You’re afraid to buy them. They are expensive. True. They are tacky. Not true, if you buy the expensive ones and arrange them right. They fade. Not always.

Blending faux floral and greenery in with fresh plants is a great way to have a classy, natural look. I don’t mean mixing faux and fresh stuff in one pot. I mean having a fresh plant here and a faux plant there. If you buy quality faux, this method will look very natural. When company comes, or there are special occasions or the nursery has some of your favorite blooms, the faux arrangement or faux topiary goes in the hall or laundry room closet and the fresh ones take its place. Super easy, right? But in the meanwhile, while blooms are scarce, enjoy a single flower faux arrangement like my chartreuse hydrangeas that I absolutely love, twelve years later.

Keep out of direct sunlight. Dust every few months with a feather duster. Hose your faux products off annually. And fluff or lift the branches and/or blossoms a bit when they start to look misshapen.

Fresh ivy topiary doesn’t care for permanent indoor life. They winter well indoors but develop bugs mid to late spring. Fresh rosemary or myrtle don’t do well indoors indefinitely either. That leaves you with the option of placing them outside daily (or at the very least on alternating days) to get them the sun they need. That can get time consuming. You can also keep several outdoor back up’s that you rotate in and out seasonally, particularly if you have a greenhouse. This is way more realistic, but not all of us have greenhouses. What I do is have a couple of back up plants that I rotate outdoors during growing season. Rotating your plants outdoors regularly during growing season will keep them healthy.

The old adage ‘Prune and feed the gardener’s creed” applies to indoor plants as well as outdoor ones. Keep them pruned. Feed them non-toxic plant food. I use Jobe’s Organic Root Feeder stakes. They last for two months. I do a whole stake in my medium plants and ½ a stake in my small ones. For large plants use 1-1/2 to 2 stakes depending on root ball size.

I’ve killed so many ivy topiary over the years on my covered patio, mainly from lack of sun or too much sun but perhaps not enough water too. I currently have two, 36 inch double ball ivy topiary that I grew from six pack babies and they’re thriving because they love morning sun and the pruning, feeding and frequent shaping I give them. I recently moved one just a few feet to receive a hint more sun and it responded with wilted, burnt leaves so I quickly, pinched back the burnt leaves and now keep it covered with a flour sack cloth during the hottest hours. They both stay outside because they’re too big to be brought in, but you can do the same thing with smaller ivy topiary and rotate them indoors. Hint: always use plastic saucers inside your pots plus back it up with a pretty ceramic saucer under the pot too. Indoor plant leaks are super damaging!

Preserved greenery is a natural product that has been dried and treated with glycerin. They’re priced considerably higher than the other fresh and faux products. They don’t fade quickly if kept out of direct sunlight but like dried flowers they are dust magnets and are a pain to keep clean. They crumble under a feather duster leaving the only alternative (that I’m aware of) is to gently blow them off with a hair drier on cool setting. Not a task I’m willing to schedule into my own home maintenance schedule. Plus, surprisingly, they don’t look as natural as other faux products.

Decorating with Greenery

I have several go-to looks for decorating with greenery. I love to do one nicely scaled topiary in a great jardinière or ceramic pot, between a pair of interesting lamps, placed on a lovely tray or a stack of books. I also love to do topiary in pairs, particularly on the dining room table in pots that coordinate with the room. My favorite dining room table arrangement to do is a central tray of alcohol bottles flanked by two modestly sized topiary. 

I also love doing tall plant racks filled with one to two types of plants or flowers like maidenhair ferns, violets. This is equally beautiful indoors or on outside patios. I have a rack of maidenhair ferns in my big kitchen sink window that gets lots of sun and is easy to water. It sits on the granite countertop and so there’s no chance of water damage to the floors.

Always save your quality pots, vases and jardinières. Having a collection of them allows you to rotate them seasonally and gives you options when entertaining. I often move mine indoors and out.

Another way to decorate with faux objects is with high quality fruits and vegetables. This is another fun way to incorporate seasonal change. I love moss balls, artichokes, apples, osage orange (they are actually green, not orange) and pears. I’m very select when and where I use them for decoration because they can be easily overdone. My favorite is moss balls. I love using them in the base of my topiary or sometimes alone in a pot.

Keep a large selection of faux greenery and beautiful containers on hand in your pantry or laundry room. They’re awesome for seasonal decorating or as decorative fillers, for those times you have a spot to fill and don’t know what to put there. If your home is missing something and you can’t tell what it is, it’s usually scale, texture or …. greenery.

And if you’d like a deeper dive into decorating and optimizing your home, check out my free downloadable workbook The Wellness Home, 5 Steps to a Soothing, Supportive Home for Women with Arthritis and Chronic Pain

Women with arthritis and chronic pain have some definite challenges in life. The good news is your home has the potential to help you live a fantastic life! Don’t go another moment without getting real help. 

That’s it for today! Bye for now.