Friday, April 13, 2012

My Myrtle Topiaries

I have been growing myrtle topiaries as houseplants for nearly 10 years.  I favor the small leaf variety myrtus communis compacta, which is great for shaping.  And, yes, I lost quite a few early on :(  

Here are growing tips on these finicky gems:

- Plenty of sunlight. Keep in sunroom or bright window with south / west exposure.
- Water! So important to not let them dry out. But, they should not sit in water for hours. Be diligent about watering topiaries that are root bound, which require frequent watering (and repotting eventually).   
- During the growing season (late March - early September), I use a liquid fertilizer (miracle grow in green bottle) once a month when I remember :)
- Many say to mist them, but I don’t bother as that is messy.
- To maintain a tight spherical form, clip often during the growing season. Do not shear or cut the leaves. Instead, snip at the branches / shoots. Where you snip a shoot two others will branch out, creating a fuller plant.   
- Do not place on heat register or radiator, unless you want them fried! 
- Move and rotate so they get the required sunlight. I switch out the pair on the mantel (of a dark room) with another pair from the conservatory every 4-5 days.
- I use a mild insecticidal soap spray if bugs are present.

Myrtle topiaries do require a level of care, but they are quite easy once you get the hang.  I especially love them in pairs on a mantel shelf, on a console table, or flanking the front door.

 I've had the pair (above) at my shop for almost 4 years.
 Pair of triple standards on my dining room console.

 A grouping of 5 in my mini conservatory.
 I love them in groups - 3 are also on the table.
 A topiary in my library (in desperate need of haircut).

If you have questions about myrtle topiaries, just let me know. 

66 comments:

  1. These are beautiful (the photos and the plants)!! So serene. All I can "grow" are succulents and cactus. Ha! I wish I were back there to see the lush greenery. Can't wait to read more! xo, Kathleen PS. I love your sterling collection!

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  2. Hi Loi,

    I love myrtle topiaries, too but gave up after sending quite a few to an early grave. You have encouraged me to try again. I have also been meaning to stop by and leave you a comment about your gorgeous white garden. I love that you have named the varieties of plants and flowers. I am in the process of planting a new garden around our new terrace in the backyard and love having a visual reference. I look forward to visiting your shop next time I am in DC. Have a nice weekend~

    Allison

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  3. Holy Moly Loi, your house is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.! Your mini conservatory--wow. I love it all. Your tips and gorgeous photos really inspire me to try this. They actually become works of art once matured. My favorite photos are the first one with the 2 that flank the settee and the grouping in the conservatory.
    This is a great post, thanks so much and have a fantabulous nice sunny weekend!
    XO

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  4. Loi,
    It sounds like a full time job to me. But I just may attempt it this spring. Thank you for all of the instruction! Lori

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  5. I am so glad you posted this! I have wanted to try myrtle topiary. (I like topiary of any kind.) This gives me some tips that I definitely needed. Now.. if I could ever find some out here in the Midwest, I'll be getting somewhere. Your designs are absolutely beautiful! What can I say.. it's hard to stop looking at them.

    Have a wonderful weekend!
    Keri

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    1. Keri:

      If by the midwest you mean Wisconsin, I can tell you that I just found the most beautiful assortment of Myrtle topiaries at the Flower Source in Germantown, WI, a suburb north of the Milwaukee area. Beautifully shaped and very healthy. Just hope I don't kill the double one I bought.

      Ellen

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  6. Ok, I'm inspired to try the myrtle. I have a sunny window they may like. Yours are impressive.

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  7. Beautiful photos! And the topiaries, of course. Thank you for sharing the advice - this will be a great Spring project. What size plants did you start with? I have only see very small myrtle at my local nursery. All best, Phyllis
    PS - must pin the gorgeous settee.

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    1. Thank you, Phyllis! Most nurseries sell myrtle topiaries according to height (and not by diameter of ball). They can be pretty tall, but with a small head / ball. With diligent fertilization and clipping, they fill out pretty fast....about 2-3 years. I have them in all different heights. Looking forward to your next blog post. Loi

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  8. I want every single thing in every image. Gorgeous!

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  9. Absolutely stunning... the topiaries AND your home!!! I've admired your work since first seeing it on Cote de Texas and I am elated that you have started a blog! Thank you for sharing the tips -- I'm going to give it a go. Curious, too, about the plants you started with, especially for the tripple topiaries.

    Kerry

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    1. Thanks so much, Kerry. I am delighted you found my blog :-) The triple ones take a while to grow to the desired height. After that, they fill out (with regular pruning) pretty fast over 2-3 years. Hope you visit again! Cheers, Loi

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  10. Dear Loi,
    Not only the Myrtle is beautiful, but the pictures here also!!! Oh dear!!
    Have a wonderful weekend!
    xx
    Greet

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  11. Loi,
    I love these topiaries and have been wondering what plant to use to achieve that affect. Did you get the starter plant at a nursery or order them? I have a sunroom, so I want to try these. I love the topiary look. Your gardens and home are so lovely. You are an inspiration. I wondered if I can repost your article here on the topiaries on my blog?
    Thanks.
    Nancy
    Powellbrowerhome.com

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    1. Hi Nancy - I purchased many of them at specialty / garden / antique shows. Thank you for asking about reposting: sure! I'd be delighted and honored :-) One favor: could you provide a link back to my blog somewhere in the repost? Thank you! Take care, Loi

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  12. I loved seeing all your topiaries. I have always wanted to try growing them but have not been able to find a local source. Your homw is absolutely beautiful!

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  13. Loi, I am so glad you found my blog so I could find you! Thank you SO much for your lovely comments. I've read all your posts and love it all! I'm not surprised your former home was in a magazine, the photos are stunning as are the glimpses of your new home - I can't wait to see the rest! You have some eye! I love the tones you use, so calm. Adore Swedish style too - love your Gustavian pieces! And I love your topiary myrtles - we don't seem to have these here(Ireland) must look into it! I have some bay laurel and box topiaries in the garden and was going to try rosemary and box inside (buxus only need 1 hour of light a day) but I'll have a look for myrtle! what do you think of box for inside??

    Sharon

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    1. Many thanks for your visit, Sharon! I'm delighted to find a new blog friend in Ireland :-) I think you'd be better with rosemary or bay laurel. I've had a pair of bay laurel topiaries for nearly 4 years. I enjoy them as houseplants from September to April. Don't know how box would do inside? Let me know if you do try. Cheers, L

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  14. Loi-
    Thank you for sharing. I am going to try my hand at this! I bookmarked it. I also added you to my blogroll. Thank you for adding mine.
    Have a happy Sunday.
    Teresa
    xoxo

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  15. Loi,
    I have been growing Myrtle topiaries for years. I am obsessed. We have live all over the place, Dallas now, before that Toronto. When we moved across the US border we were unable to take our plants. Boo. They are really tough to find in Dallas, Texas. I ordered a few from Avant Garden here in big D. Nothing as glamourous as the three tiered ones (had those in Boston years ago and in DC ). You have inspired me to order more. I found a place in Maine that ships called Snug Harbor Farm. Wish me luck.
    Your home is stunning.

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    1. Thank you, Marybeth! I am waiting for you to start a blog. All the wonderful cities you've lived in, your blog would be awesome and a great resource. And, thank you for the below link to Snug Harbor in Maine....really appreciate that!! I'll email you to chat more! Talk soon, Loi

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  16. This is the website to Snug Harbor Farms.
    http://snugharborfarm.com
    Have a good Sunday evening.
    Marybeth

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  17. Hi Loi,
    I used to grow myrtle topiaries but stopped when I got more in to orchids. Thanks for reminding me how wonderful they look. I'm going to try to find some myrtle in the Boston area and grow some more. If I can't find any around Boston, I'll take a road trip up to Snug Harbor Farms in Kennebunk. Thanks, Marybeth for the tip.
    All the best,
    Ruth

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  18. Loi,

    I have just discovered your blog after seeing your stunning home on Pure Style Home. Both Lauren and Brooke from Velvet and Linen are women that I greatly admire. It sounds as if you enjoyed a wondeful night.

    I am fascinated by your topiaries but as soon as you mentioned finiky I became a bit scared, house plants and I do not have a great relationship. But perhaps with your helpful tips I can manage one.

    Thank you for sharing. You have a breautiful store, home and blog.

    Enjoy your day, Elizabeth

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  19. Absolutely GORGEOUS! I am so tempted to try this, although I haven't got a brilliant track record of houseplants. Your blog and your home are totally STUNNING. I can't wait to look at more of your older posts. It's always a good day when I happen to stumble across such an inspiring and beautiful blog.

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  20. Love your mini nursery particularly, but everything else generally. The spareness and neutral colors speak to me. Great photography.
    b (kitchens i have loved)

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  21. Hi Loi,
    I love the topiaries, but what I really love is your beautiful home!! with such beautiful furniture!

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  22. So beautiful. Your home is divine. It is a challenge to keep them just so. The photography is just perfection. Are these professional images or your own?

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  23. Hi Everyone - Thank you for all the wonderful comments. I am so loving blogging :-) Everyone has been so supportive. Many, many thanks! I take all the photos with my little point-and-shoot Nikon. There is usually 1 good shot out of 10 ;-) Cheers, Loi

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  24. Absolutely fabulous.
    Brilliant post and photos (as always).
    Myrtle not so common here in the UK.
    Off on a Myrtle hunt now!!
    Lizx

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  25. Those are absolutely gorgeous Loi! You have inspired me to try them again! I have had good luck with olives as standards but not much else!

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  26. Loi, you are such a gifted gardener! I would love to learn to keep ivy as beautifull as you do too!

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  27. Your home is just breathtaking!! Please post more photos of your home as we all love seeing them (& dreaming of). Also, your photos are gorgeous! Do you take your own pictures?
    Leigh

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  28. Oops... you just answered the photo question. (Sorry!).
    Leigh

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  29. Love this post Loi as I have been growing ivy topiaries for years (I have one that I have had for 20 years!! http://fortheloveofahouse.blogspot.com/2012/01/my-twenty-year-old-topiary.html) My most recent have come from Snug Harbor Farm (as mb mentioned) which is always a "must stop" on our monthly day-trips over to Maine! It is my favorite nursery- think peacocks and chickens running around!! It is fabulous and always full of inspirations. I will have to look at their mrytle topiiaries the next time we visit. Thank you for your tips on growing them.

    all my best,
    joan

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  30. Wonderful post! I am an outdoor avid gardener and have several plants indoors but never entertained the idea of these beautiful topiaries. Do you happen to have an online source to purchase nice healthy plants? I am a new follower of your blog. It's lovely. Vikki

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  31. Great blog, love the Myrtle, never seen it used like this. It looks wonderful.

    Paul

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  32. Hey Loi, Just read your reply - thanks! will look for nyrtle but I'm sure I would've come across it by now! I'll try the box inside as an experiment and let you know what happens :)

    Sharon

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  33. Great post! I recently purchased 2 large topiaries and was not sure how to manage the growth. A simple hair cut makes sense, but I was just poking the new growth back into the orb... now I know, Thanks!

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  34. Aren't you proud of me? I resisted sneaking one out of your gorgeous house!
    Thank you so much for the tips. I am actually going to book mark this post for when I move.
    Myrtle topiaries are a must at Patina Farm!

    xo xo
    Brooke

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  35. Beautiful and inspiring,,,,i might just try my hand at growing myrtle topiaries!!!

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  36. This is such a beautiful post! I'm so glad I saw it! Can't wait to read more!
    Carolyn Bradford
    Mulberry Heights Antiques

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  37. I love Myrtles too! Yours are wonderful! Our house is part of a convent and first stated in the 13th century. But the house is about 200 Years. It's restored and the garden is new. Previously it was a pasture for calves.
    Markus

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  38. Gorgeous!! I look forward to reading more of your blog!

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  39. Loi, I found you through Brooke Giannetti's blog. Wow!!!!! Had to post about your topiaries on my little blog

    http://stylishserendipity.blogspot.com/2012/04/elegant-myrtle-topiaries.html

    I am swept away this morning by all the beauty on your blog and your store, thank you for that! A great way to start the day

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  40. Loi, I just read Joni Webb's post from several years ago about your homes(the post was mentioned on Pure Style Home when I was catching up on blogs this morning)! I have seen those images many times before. I adore both of the homes that you and Thomas have designed so beautifully with your lovely furnishings. More proof that pretty never goes out of style! Cheers to a beautiful life!

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  41. Hi Loi - Your topiaries are the best! I had a Myrtle topiary several years ago that dried out terribly. I'm going to try again, thanks to your tips. Love the photos of your home too and what a lovely conservatory!

    Best,
    Deborah

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  42. "They" are like friends...I have one "friend" 40 years. franki

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    1. Hi Franki - Thank you for your visit! I couldn't locate your email address on your profile, but did see that you are in the Washington, DC area. Would love to see photos of your topiary.....email me? Take care, and I appreciate your comment. Loi

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  43. Beautiful! Love the patina and organic nature of your home/store. Will you share that paint color on the walls?

    Thank you for sharing your home.
    jenni

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  44. Dear Jenni - Many thanks! Dining room walls and trim are all Ben Moore, Classic Gray. I used a flat finish on the walls, and satin impervo low luster on the trim. The conservatory and library are Ben Moore, White Dove.....again, flat and satin impervo. If you try these colors, let me know how you like them in your home. Cheers, Loi

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  45. Loi, thank you for the quick response. I love your enthusiasm to share beautiful things, it will serve you well. Looking forward to future posts.
    Jenni

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  46. Hi Loi,
    I found your blog through pinterest as we seem to be following each other. I love your aesthetic, clean and pure... just wonderful!
    I am also a new blogger in the design/lifestyle arena, my husband and I work together in a custom interiors business in Ontario Canada.
    We love to travel sourcing antiques, art and stopping in at lovely places along the way. I hope we can find our way to you at some point!
    Cynthia

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  47. Loi,

    Is it okay if I "pin" photos from your blog posts?

    Thanks so much,
    Kerry

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    1. Hey Kerry - Thank you for asking. Absolutely! Please feel free. I love Pinterest....so addicted, actually :-)
      Loi

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  48. Loi,
    Love this post! You have inspired me to get some myrtle topiaries! I will wait til I get into my new home...but Ive always loved their look, just didn't know what they were called much less how to take care of them. I don't have much of a green thumb but I will give it a try!
    Heidi

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  49. Hi Loi,

    I hope it's ok if I link to this post in a show and tell post about a fake topiary on my blog. I tell folks to see the real deal at yours! Drooling as I write this...

    -Revi

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  50. Loi, There aren't any "exclamations" left that have not already been said, but I 'ditto' all of the compliments to you on your home, garden, photography, blog . . . your are quite the inspiration. Recently I purchased 3 small topiaries from One Kings Lane: rosemary, lavender and myrtle. After sitting them in a west facing window for a few days, I discovered I had "fried" the rosemary; the lavender lasted a few weeks later. Luckily the myrtle is still with me. Lesson Learned. . . I won't have them in such direct sunlight. I, too, really admire your Green Thumb. Martha

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  51. Hi Loi,

    I finally got over to read this! Thanks you so much for this generous post. I love the way you group them in threes... or have the triple balls on one branch. The green looks so pretty against all the neutrals. I DID NOT know how to prune them properly so I am grateful for you sharing this. I've got a wonderful local nursery that will help me with this. thanks so much, leslie xx

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  52. Hi Loi- I have had a few myrtle topiaries and they did well for a while. I actually purchased them at home depot, but they were fairly good size and I would prefer them to be smaller. I still have one left but it is very stragely and not full. Do you think if I cut it back It would come back and thicken up? Also do you have any websites that sell them. I have not been able to find them again and don't know where to buy them I did check the snugharbourfarm.com . They are not set up yet for online sales. Thank you, Marti

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  53. Hi Loi,

    I've read this page more than once when I first got my myrtle topiary last July. A few months ago my plant was heavily infested with brown scales, and unfortunately I had left it untreated for way too long until almost all the leaves fell. In addition to finally spraying it with insecticidal soap, I pretty much had to cut most of the plant off. Now It looks like a baby leafless tree with a few bare branches. It's kind of cute, to be honest! I know that the plant was still very much alive at the roots because its main trunk has kept growing, so I wasn't too worried about it actually dying. Now it's starting to grow leaves again, and since it's so bare I can keep a good eye on any brown scales that may pop up again.

    My question is, at this point how often should I trim the plant? Since it's pretty bare right now, should I trim it more often? And also, have you had experience with brown scales? They appeared about 8 months after I bought the plant. I do spray my plants every morning - I live in Canada and it's very dry in my room. Could it be from too much moisture?

    Thanks again for sharing your experiences and tips!

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  54. I have just brought a topiary myrtle and found your tips very useful. Many thanks for sharing your photographs of your beautiful home. Pip.

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  55. i have a questions about the trees. I have a small myrtle ball tree and over Christmas break it got kind of forgotten and didn't get watered. now the leaves are all shriveled up and its lost most of the leaves. is there any hope at bringing it back to life? also any tips you may have if there is a chance at bringing it back to being full of leaves like it once was.

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  56. I see that someone else has already posted a reference to Snug Harbor Farm in Kennebunk, Maine. I travelled there yesterday from Boston to "adopt" my first myrtle topiary - and ended up buying two! Snug Harbor has a wonderful selection of fabulous myrtle topiaries, among many other specialty plants and other things, and the staff members are very nice and helpful. I have a tendency to kill houseplants, and with their helpful guidance and the tips on your web page, I am hoping that these babies will flourish!

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  57. I have a question about my myrtle. I bought a big one ball myrtle. The leaves are falling from the inside a little. The outside is wonderful green no bugs or problem. Is this normal? I thought maybe since its such a big ball that light and air can't get to inside? I water and try to keep moist every other day or so. I hate seeing the leaves in the pot. Thanks.

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  58. Hello and thank you very much for your tips and putting this page up to help us get the hang of taking care of this lovely little plant. However, I am wondering if there is anything you can suggest for me as I am now on my 3rd myrtle tree, and they still end up dying. I make sure that the soil is kept moist and very rarely is it sitting in water after draining. I keep the tree in well sunlit area in the condo as our main living room window faces the west, and I also am careful to trim it where I am supposed to and I make sure that the scissors are kept sharp, but yet they still die. So I am unsure what I have been doing wrong. If you have any other suggestions, that would be wonderful.

    Thank you
    Janine

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Many thanks for your visit and comment. If you have a question, let me know and I will respond here. Loi