How to Make a Real Ivy Topiary

How to Make a Real Ivy TopiaryFor the last few years, one of my frequently asked questions has been whether the ivy in my porch planters was real or fake. Well…I’m here to tell you it is real! I’m also here to tell you how to make a real ivy topiary of your own. It’s an easy project yet so rewarding and long-lasting.   (1.) I start with cone-shaped grapevine trees that measure 24 in. tall. You could use anything you want though for a base. Once the ivy starts to take off the base hardly shows through. (2.) Over the summer months I grow ivy in my deck pots. You can also just buy hardy ivy at your local nursery or home improvement store.  (3.) I use four plants, 2 for each planter. Here they are sitting in a bucket ready to be planted. (4.) After plucking off the dead ivy from last fall and removing the existing (and burned out) lights, I wound new lights around the trees. Previously I used lights with a brown cord but discovered that wasn’t really necessary. The cord doesn’t show once the ivy grows in. I used 150 lights for each tree. Real Ivy Topiary TutorialNext step is to set the trees in the planters with the light cord hanging down the back. I added some new potting soil to the planters to raise the trees to the proper level. This is when I always step back and obsess about whether or not they are the same height. I usually don’t move on until they are! (5.) You can see that there is room at the front corners for an ivy plant. Place your plants and add potting soil. (6.) Take the ivy strands and wind them around the tree, tucking them under the lights as you go. (7.) As you are winding, be careful not to break the ivy strands or pull them from the fresh soil. (8.) The ivy doesn’t reach all the way to the top of the tree but it won’t be long. Water regularly and it will grow like mad. Real Ivy Topiary TutorialI use a couple of extension cords to rig up the lights. It’s not the best set-up but I don’t have an outlet actually on my porch. Last year I put the lights on a timer and it was wonderful. I didn’t have to lean over the railing anymore to plug and unplug them.  I don’t start turning on the lights until well into fall…usually after the time change. I can see them from the chair where I always sit and it’s somehow comforting and cozy. The lights signal shorter days, cooler temps and the approaching holiday season. Much to look forward to. Let me know if you have any questions…I’d be happy to answer if I can. See you very soon.

Linking to: Beneath My Heart

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Make Your Own Real Ivy Topiary

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  1. Janet Lakin says:

    Hi there,
    I was inspired by a post you made that had a cone shaped tree in a galvanized tub…but you filled the tub with other materials first before adding potting soil…so it wouldn’t be so heavy. I found a cool Eiffel Tower wire shape that I want to use instead of a tree shape, and wondered if you could tell me your secret for good filler to use before I add potting soil and my ivy plants nearer the top.


    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Janet…for filler, I usually use plastic water or soda bottles. Another option is packing peanuts, but sometimes they float to the top after watering. I hope this helps!

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  4. Mary@athomeonthebay says:

    I am definitely going to try this Ann! Thanks for the tutorial.

  5. Anne Boykin says:

    Hi Ann, Thanks for the how-to for your topiaries. Love them, especially since you’ve got real greenery & lights too. Enjoy your blog so much!

  6. Amy @ Ms. Toody Goo Shoes says:

    Those are gorgeous, Ann! I love that the lights are woven around. They must be so pretty all lit up! Picture, please!

  7. Jane @ Cottage at the Crossroads says:

    Thanks for the tutorial Ann! I love ivy in any way, shape, or form. Unfortunately, I kill a lot of it! But I think this just might work on our front porch! Pinning this!

  8. Mary Alice Patterson says:

    I love ivy topiaries and this is easy enough even for me to do. I wouldn’t have thought about putting the lights on first, but it sure makes sense.
    Mary Alice

  9. These are so lovely! I’d love to try them.
    This may be a dumb question but, where do you purchase the grapevine cones?

  10. Ricki Jill Treleaven says:

    Oh, how pretty, Ann. Thanks so much for the tutorial! I would like to see them lighted at night! (hint, hint)

  11. Penny @ The Comforts of Home says:

    They look wonderful. Do they die back in the winter time? What temperature is it in the winter where you live?

  12. Yvonne @ StoneGable says:

    Ann, what a great tutorial! I’m making this for sure. It will look so pretty by the time Christmas rolls around! LOVE YOUR STYLE!

  13. I’ve always admired your topiaries, Ann. Thanks for sharing the tutorial!