29 Vegetation Good for Making Topiary

Topiaries are beautifully shaped and cared-for plants. These plants can be shaped into any shape your heart desires, but each shape will require a bit of a different care plan as well as patience! Any plant that can tolerate pruning could be shaped into topiary. Of course, some plants are better than others.

In this article, I have put together a list of 29 plants that are beautiful when grown naturally or when shaped into a topiary. When you are selecting your plant, take into consideration the type of sun and soil your plant will be growing in, as well as how much time you have to maintain your new topiary. With that being said, let’s dig in!

Arborvitae ‘Degroot’s Spire’

Achieve stunning spiral or cone topiaries with this variety.

If a large spiral or cone topiary is what you are desiring, Arborvitae ‘Degroot’s Spire’ is the perfect shrub for you. These arborvitae are used for tall privacy screens but can easily be trimmed into a columnar shape to plant on either side of your front door or as a more decorative screen.

You may be able to find ‘Degroot’s Spire’ pre-shaped at a local garden center. If not, you have your work cut out for you! These shrubs take nicely to pruning, but depending on how tall the shrub is when you begin shaping, you may want to enlist some help!

Arborvitae ‘Golden Globe’

Close-up of Arborvitae 'Golden Globe' in the garden. Arborvitae ‘Golden Globe’ is a compact and spherical cultivar, characterized by its dense, golden-yellow foliage. The foliage consists of small, scale-like leaves that maintain their bright hue.Select from diverse arborvitae varieties for enduring beauty in landscaping.

There are many arborvitae varieties to choose from, with so many providing dependable beauty season after season. ‘Golden Globe’ is a great variety for shaping topiary spheres. This variety produces golden-green foliage that grows naturally in a globe shape. 

You have a few options when it comes to the ‘Golden Globe’. You can allow it to grow into its natural globe shape and leave it alone. If you prefer a neater shape, a sphere will be easy to achieve. This plant is excellent for a first-time topiary shaper. 

Boxwood ‘Green Mountain’

Close-up of a young Boxwood plant in a sunny garden. This classic and versatile evergreen shrub boasts a dense, glossy foliage composed of small, oval-shaped leaves that retain their vibrant green color year-round. The soil is covered with a layer of bark mulch.Versatile and resilient, ‘Green Mountain’ boxwood suits various garden styles.

Boxwoods are known as being a very common and well-performing topiary plant. ‘Green Mountain’ is a mid-sized boxwood with bright green evergreen foliage. This boxwood variety grows in an upward, conical shape and is beautiful when used in formal gardens, informal gardens, or large containers. 

The natural shape of this boxwood lends itself nicely to a cone or sphere shape. However, this plant is very tolerant to pruning and can easily be shaped into a cube or standard hedge shape. 

Boxwood ‘Suffruticosa’

Close-up of many bushes of Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’ with a rounded shape. Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’ is a compact and slow-growing shrub renowned for its dense, finely textured foliage and distinctive, rounded form. The plant produces small, glossy green oval-shaped leaves.Craft timeless elegance with small, easily pruned spherical shrubs.

For a classic boxwood look, shop for the ‘Suffruticosa’ variety. This is a much smaller variety which makes it more manageable when it comes to pruning. It also makes it much easier to tuck into your gardens or containers. 

Shape ‘Suffruticosa’ into spheres for the classic look. Group a few spheres together for a formal look, or use them on their own for a specimen plant. 


Close-up of a flowering Camellia japonica plant against a blurred background. Camellia japonica with red flowers presents an exquisite display with its glossy, dark green foliage. The flowers boast intricate, ruffled petals arranged in layers.Craft elegant topiaries by shaping Japanese camellias into standard trees.

Japanese camellias are beautiful shrubs with glossy large leaves and stunningly showy flowers. There are many uses for camellias in your garden, including topiary. If you live in a chillier area, you can bring your camellias into your sunroom for the winter. 

Trim Japanese camellia into a standard tree form. From there, you can choose to shape the top as a ball or leave it a little wild. This process will likely take two years. Keep pruning and making small snips to promote foliar growth for a nice full topiary.

Cherry Laurel

Close-up of blooming Prunus laurocerasus in a sunny garden. Prunus laurocerasus is a versatile evergreen shrub with glossy, dark green foliage with an elongated shape. The plant produces clusters of small, creamy-white flowers in vertical inflorescences.Shape cherry laurel into stunning hedges to enhance garden beauty.

Cherry laurel is a group of evergreen shrubs that produces glossy deep green leaves and cream colored flowers. They have a strong, sweet fragrance. These large shrubs make beautiful hedges and can be useful for privacy screens as well. 

You can prune cherry laurels into any shape you like, but they are most common as a hedge. This basic shape will show the glossy leaves and beautiful flowers off nicely. 


Close-up of a flowering Coleus scutellarioides plant in a sunny garden. Coleus scutellarioides is a vibrant and colorful annual plant prized for its striking foliage. The leaves are large, ovate, and variegated with vibrant shades of green, red, pink, purple, and yellow, creating a kaleidoscope of colors. The plant produces small, insignificant flowers. The flowers are inconspicuous spikes that emerge from the stems and are a delicate lavender shade.Shape coleus into a stunning ball form for garden delight.

Coleus is a colorful foliage plant that is typically grown as an annual. These plants are stunning and come in amazing color combinations, such as green, orange, pink, and white. According to the University of Rhode Island, coleus is an excellent alternative for shady gardens if you have experienced downy mildew with impatiens. 

Attach the main stem of your coleus plant to a garden stake. As with other plants you wish to trim to a standard shape, begin trimming the lower stems off of the main stem. Be sure to use delicate tools, such as bonsai scissors.  As your plant continues to grow, you will need to remove more growth. Shape your top into a ball. Continue making small cuts, and deadhead any flowers to promote foliar growth, which will lead to a nice full sphere. 

Dwarf Alberta Spruce

Close-up of potted plants Picea glauca ‘Conica’ in a sunny garden. Picea glauca ‘Conica’, commonly known as dwarf Alberta spruce, is a compact and conical evergreen tree renowned for its elegant and symmetrical form. Its dense, blue-green foliage consists of short, stiff needles that radiate around the branches, creating a distinctive and refined appearance.Craft elegant topiaries effortlessly with slow-growing dwarf Alberta spruce.

Dwarf Alberta spruce are widely popular garden shrubs, and for good reason. These evergreen spruce grow dependably in a wide range of hardiness zones and look beautiful while doing so. Dwarf Alberta spruce makes a great choice for topiary due to its slow growth habit. This will allow you to perfect the shape while the shrub is still small, leaving only smaller trimmings once the shrub reaches its full size. 

Shape dwarf Alberta spruce into cones or spiral-shaped topiaries if you are looking for a simple task. These shrubs naturally take on a conical shape, and will only require minor trimming to keep them in a tight cone or spiral shape. 

Dwarf Scotch Pine ‘Glauca’

Close-up of Pinus sylvestris 'Glauca' in a snow-covered garden against a backdrop of pruned bushes with golden yellow foliage. ‘Glauca’ forms a pyramidal shape when young, maturing into a picturesque, irregular crown with age. Its rugged bark and sturdy branches further enhance its visual appeal.Shape dwarf Scotch pine into classic or funky topiaries effortlessly.

Dwarf Scotch pine is a very versatile shrub, especially when it comes to topiary shaping! Left to its own devices, this pine species will grow into a nice mounded form that easily could be left alone and greatly loved in your gardens. 

Dwarf Scotch pine can be neatly shaped into a sphere, but it can also be pruned into more funky shapes. Form balls at the end of each large branch for a classic yet slightly funky topiary. 

English Ivy

Close-up of Hedera helix topiary against a blurred brown background. The Hedera helix topiary, crafted from English ivy, showcases an exquisite and meticulously pruned form with its glossy, dark green leaves. These leaves are small, lobed, and densely packed along the vine-like stems, lending a lush and dense appearance to the topiary.Craft unique topiaries by training English ivy onto frames effortlessly.

English ivy may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you envision a topiary. This beautiful vine can do more than creep up the side of your house, however. Because of its aerial roots, English ivy is an excellent candidate for creating a topiary using a frame. 

Once your frame is in place, try a globe, a spiral, or a fun animal shape. You simply need to attach the vine to the frame. Using orchid clips is simple and will not harm the vine. Trim the vine as needed to keep the shape.

Euonymus ‘Silver King’

Close-up of Euonymus 'Silver King' in a sunny garden. Euonymus 'Silver King' is distinguished by its striking foliage, featuring broad, oval-shaped leaves with prominent green veins that contrast beautifully against creamy-white margins. The leaves have a glossy texture and a slightly serrated edge.Shape ‘Silver King’ into hedges or ornamental cones for elegance.

‘Silver King’ is a beautiful variety of Euonymus. This evergreen shrub sports green leaves with silver-yellow edges and discreet yellow flowers in the springtime. When left to its own devices, this euonymus variety grows in an attractive upright form.

‘Silver King’ is perfect for a spot in your garden that could use year-round interest. Trim this euonymus as a neat hedge, or perhaps give your hand at shaping it into a cone or spiral. 


Close-up of a blooming Gardenia jasminoides in a garden against a blurred background. Gardenia jasminoides is a captivating evergreen shrub prized for its fragrant, creamy-white flowers and glossy, dark green foliage. The flowers are large, waxy, double-petaled and white. The glossy leaves are oval-shaped and arranged opposite each other along the stems.Shape gardenias into elegant spheres for a classic topiary look.

Gardenias are large, beautiful evergreens that produce intoxicatingly fragrant flowers. This plant can be grown outdoors, but it is also a stunning houseplant. It should be noted that these plants are a bit high maintenance and not for the faint of heart. 

Gardenias are commonly pruned into a standard form, and you can typically find them already shaped this way at your local garden centers. If you are starting from scratch, start by removing lateral branches on the lower part of the main stem. Once you have the size top you are looking for, shape it into a sphere. 


Close-up of blooming Teucrium fruticans in a sunny garden. Teucrium fruticans, commonly known as bush germander or shrubby germander, is an evergreen shrub prized for its striking appearance and versatility in the landscape. It features slender, silvery-gray leaves with a slightly serrated edge, creating a soft and elegant texture. The plant produces spikes of delicate pale blue flowers.Sculpt and shape with care, revealing its silver beauty.

Germander is a shrub that boasts sturdy stems that are tolerant of topiary pruning. The leaves of this plant are silver with a white underside. This plant also produces blue flowers that last throughout most of the growing season. 

If you love Germander, try shaping it into a standard form or a globe shape. Take your time trimming the stems, and do your trimming when the plant is not in bloom. Germander also makes a lovely hedge. Trim these hedges neatly or allow them to have a more freeform shape for a whimsical appearance. 

Holly ‘Sky Pencil’

Close-up of five young Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil' in a garden near a white brick wall. Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil' is characterized by its slender, upright branches densely adorned with small, glossy, dark green leaves. The foliage of 'Sky Pencil' is oval to elliptical in shape. The branches are closely spaced, creating a tight, columnar form that remains narrow and compact.Grow effortlessly elegant with ‘Sky Pencil’ holly’s slender grace.

If you are looking for an evergreen plant that is easy to grow and will not disappoint, ‘sky pencil’ holly is a tried and true shrub. This holly is tall and narrow, creating a column shape. The small leaves are deep green, and the plant will produce dark purple berries in the fall. 

This plant keeps itself neat on its own and would be very easy to shape into a perfect column or even into a spiral. ‘Sky Pencil’ holly can also be planted in large containers. 

Inkberry ‘Shamrock’

Close-up of branches of Ilex glabra 'Shamrock' against a blurred background of sunlight. Ilex glabra 'Shamrock' is a compact evergreen shrub known for its dense, rounded form and glossy, dark green foliage. The leaves are small, elliptical, and leathery with a slightly serrated edge, creating a lush and textural appearance.Embrace elegance effortlessly with inkberry’s glossy leaves and berries.

If you love hollies, inkberries will soon be on your well-loved list. These plants are noted for their deep green and glossy leaves, as well as their naturally attractive shape. Throughout the winter, this plant will show off black berries that accent the evergreen leaves very nicely while feeding the birds. 

The ‘Shamrock’ inkberry is one of my favorite shrubs to prune into a shape. That shape is typically a sphere, but it is a very relaxing task and is nearly foolproof. You can, of course, shape inkberry into another more intricate shape, but a sphere is simple, and the clean appearance adds simple elegance to your gardens. 

Japanese Holly

Close-up of two Ilex crenata topiaries in a sunny garden against a high wall. An Ilex crenata topiary presents a striking visual with its meticulously pruned form, sculpted into a geometric shape. The leaves of the topiary are small, glossy, and dark green, densely packed along the branches.Sculpt with ease, transforming Japanese holly into exquisite forms.

The rounded natural shape of Japanese holly lends itself nicely to topiary shaping. This evergreen shrub produces ovate leaves that are slightly toothed but not as dramatically as some other holly shrubs. 

Japanese holly is great for some basic beginner shapes, such as cones or spheres, but it is also a wonderful option for more intricate designs, such as animals. Prune and shape your Japanese holly after the bloom period ends in the early fall. 


Close-up of a flowering Trachelospermum jasminoides plant in a garden. Trachelospermum jasminoides, commonly known as Confederate jasmine or star jasmine, is an evergreen vine celebrated for its lush foliage and fragrant, star-shaped flowers. Its glossy, dark green leaves are oval to lanceolate in shape and arranged in opposite pairs along twining stems, creating a dense and verdant canopy. The plant produces clusters of small, waxy white flowers.Craft living sculptures swiftly with star jasmine’s abundant growth.

Star jasmine is a quick-growing woody vine that can quickly fill in a topiary form. This is an evergreen vine that produces beautiful white flowers in late spring and then on and off again through the rest of the growing season. 

Jasmine is typically used along a fence or other support to create a privacy screen. However, if you are looking for something to fill in a fun animal topiary form or other metal form, give Star Jasmine a try. You will not be disappointed by the performance of this plant or the stunning blooms. 

Juniper ‘Blue Point’

Close-up of two Juniperus chinensis 'Blue Point' in a sunny garden with a black fence in the background. Juniperus chinensis 'Blue Point' is a coniferous evergreen shrub known for its dense, pyramidal form and striking blue-green foliage. The foliage consists of small, scale-like needles tightly packed along ascending branches, creating a dense and textural appearance.Elegantly shape symmetrical beauty with blue-green foliage and silver-blue berries.

‘Blue Point’ juniper is a stunning choice for gardeners nearly everywhere. This conifer is low maintenance, beautiful, and versatile. Producing blue-green foliage and silver-blue berries, ‘blue point’ is also loved for its symmetrical growth. 

These shrubs will naturally grow into a cone shape. This makes it easy to trim into a tight cone. Even better yet, try pruning the ‘blue point’ juniper into a spiral for a truly fluffy and stunning specimen in your garden. 


Close-up of a flowering Lantana camara plant grown as a rounded topiary with an upright trunk. Its leaves are serrated, ovate, and arranged oppositely along the stems. The flowers of Lantana camara grow in clusters, showing yellow-orange colors.Shape cascading blooms into elegant standards with ease.

In many areas, lantana is grown as a sun-loving annual that creeps along our flower beds or spills out of window boxes or hanging baskets. These plants have sprawling stems covered in small green leaves. The stems bloom with clusters of brightly-colored, tiny flowers. When these flowers pass, they produce glossy globe-shaped seeds. 

Training lantana into a standard form is easy enough to do. Select your main stem and secure it to a garden stake. As the plant grows, prune lateral growth away while shaping the top ball as needed. 


Close-up of Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) in a black pot on a white background. The plant is grown in the form of a rounded topiary with a vertical thin trunk. The leaves are narrow, linear, and gray-green. The flowers, held atop slender stems, consist of a prominent, bract-like structure resembling rabbit ears, which encases small, purple to violet blooms.Craft aromatic elegance with lavender’s versatile beauty and fragrance.

Lavender plants are beloved for their beautiful and aromatic flowers. These pretty purple blossoms can be used in many ways around your home including teas, potpourri, and other aromatherapy uses. These plants can be trimmed into standard topiaries as well. Grow them indoors or out!

Begin by removing any lateral growth from the bottom portion of the plant. Once you have your main stem exposed, you can trim the top growth into a sphere or leave it a bit wild. Don’t forget to save any blossoms you have snipped off. 

Lodense Privet

Close-up of Ligustrum vulgare 'Lodense'. Ligustrum vulgare 'Lodense' is a compact, deciduous shrub prized for its dense, mounded form and glossy, dark green foliage. The leaves are ovate to elliptical in shape, with smooth margins, creating a lush and uniform appearance.Transform your garden with versatile Lodense privet topiaries.

If you are looking for a smaller shrub to turn into a topiary, give the Lodense privet a try. Unlike some other privets, this is not an evergreen variety. It does produce lush green leaves, white flowers, and black berries, so long as you do not snip the flowers off. 

Use Lodense privet as a low hedge or a smaller topiary such as a sphere or cube. Add these to a foundation garden for a more formal look, or use them in containers with ivy spilling out of the pot for a classic garden look. 


Close-up of Olea Europaea in a sunny garden. Olea europaea is renowned for its silvery-green foliage and distinctive fruits. Its leaves are narrow, elongated, and leathery, exhibiting a gray-green color on the upper surface and a silver-gray hue on the underside, providing a striking contrast. The plant produces small, oval-shaped fruits that are green in color.Craft elegant indoor topiaries with graceful olive tree foliage.

Olive trees are popular as houseplants, but they can reside outdoors in containers throughout the summer months. Olive trees are slow growing, which makes it achievable for you to not only shape a topiary but also grow it indoors. With their graceful, elongated, blue-green leaves, it is easy to see why people love these plants. 

You can easily find olive tree topiaries already started for you. They are typically made up of two plants that have been twined together for a stable trunk. I prefer to leave the top of my olive tree topiaries a bit wild, but you can prune them into a tighter ball if that suits your aesthetic. 

Pittosporum ‘Silver Queen’

Close-up of Pittosporum 'Silver Queen'. This evergreen shrub is prized for its striking variegated foliage. Its leaves are glossy and ovate, featuring a creamy-white margin that contrasts beautifully with the deep green centerEnhance your garden with the stunning variegated foliage option.

There are many different varieties of Pittosporum to choose from. If you are looking for something a bit extra, try ‘Silver Queen’. This variety produces gorgeous green leaves with a creamy white edging. In the winter, ‘Silver Queen’ leaves take on shades of pink.

Pittosporum is best grown in a mounded shape or a sphere. You can choose a plant with a straight stem and opt for a standard shape if you have the patience. This plant benefits from frequent snipping to prevent any spotty growth that can take away from your topiary’s beauty.


Close-up of Podocarpus macrophyllus in a sunny garden. Podocarpus macrophyllus presents an elegant evergreen appearance with its lustrous, dark green foliage. The leaves are lance-shaped and arranged in dense clusters along the branches, giving the tree a lush and full-bodied look. These glossy, needle-like leaves create a dense canopy.Craft year-round elegance with dense, evergreen shrubs.

Chinese podocarpus is a large evergreen shrub that features dense, deep green needles. This plant will produce silvery-blue berry-shaped cones that will eventually turn purple. 

You do not see this plant too frequently, however, it is a beautiful option for a hedge as well as a container plant. The dense needles are forgiving to topiary trimming and remain beautiful year-round. 


Close-up of Rosmarinus officianalis in a white pot on a sunny windowsill. Rosmarinus officinalis is an aromatic evergreen shrub with narrow, needle-like dark green leaves on top and silvery-white underneath.Shape versatile rosemary into charming kitchen or patio topiaries effortlessly.

If you are looking for a topiary that can live in your kitchen or out on your patio, rosemary is the perfect plant. These plants are easy to shape, and you can use the scrape for your cooking. It’s a win-win! There are many different varieties of rosemary. Select one that you will use the most. Larger plants will help the process move a bit faster. 

Shaping your rosemary plants into cones or globes is a simple task. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, try adding in a frame or going for a standard topiary shape. Begin by removing lateral branches to encourage a more upright shape. Trim away until you have achieved the shape you are hoping for. Try to avoid trimming while this plant is in bloom. 

Sweet Bay

Close-up of Laurus nobilis topiary in a sunny garden. Laurus nobilis, commonly known as sweet bay, is an aromatic evergreen tree prized for its glossy, dark green foliage and elegant form. It has a round spherical shape. Its leaves are elongated, leathery, and lance-shaped, arranged alternately along slender branches. Small yellow-green flowers grow between the leaves.Fashion elegant topiaries from your versatile bay laurel plants effortlessly.

If you cook, you likely are familiar with bay leaf. Those herbaceous leaves grow on the beautiful plant, the sweet bay or bay laurel.  These small bushy plants are not hardy in many areas, but in colder climates, you can bring your bay laurel into your home and treat it as a houseplant while you harvest the leaves. 

With a little work, you can coax your bay laurel into a topiary. Do the bulk of your pruning in the spring. The most common way to prune bay laurel is into a standard form by removing the lower limbs and shaping the top into a ball form. 

Waxleaf Privet

View of a tall topiary Ligustrum japonicum 'Texanum' as a tree. Ligustrum japonicum 'Texanum' is a compact evergreen shrub cherished for its dense, rounded form and glossy, dark green foliage. Its leaves are oval to elliptical, with slightly undulating margins, creating a lush and uniform appearance. 'Texanum' produces small, fragrant white flowers in clusters.Sculpt elegant topiaries from versatile evergreen shrubs effortlessly.

Privet is a beautiful evergreen shrub that is very commonly used as a hedge shrub. This shrub will also respond nicely to topiary pruning. Due to its tall and narrow size, these would make very nice cone topiaries or standard trees. 

In the springtime, this shrub will produce white flowers. Be sure not to prune your topiary while it is in bloom. Use a waxleaf privet as a specimen or plant it in a large container to make a statement on your patio. 

Yew ‘Repandens’

Close-up of Taxus baccata 'Rapandens' in the garden. Taxus baccata 'Rapandens' is a low-spreading evergreen shrub celebrated for its dense, carpet-like growth habit and rich, dark green foliage. Its foliage consists of small, linear needles arranged in a spiral pattern along the stems, creating a lush and uniform appearance.Create stunning, low-maintenance topiaries with lush, evergreen foliage.

Yew bushes are often regarded as the next best shrub for topiaries after boxwoods. This is because these shrubs produce lush needles that are evergreen. They are slow-growing and will not require a lot of maintenance pruning once the desired shape has been trimmed. 

‘Repandens’ is a low-growing and wide-spreading variety of yew that will lend itself nicely to a lower topiary or a low-growing hedge. Plant these shrubs with caution if you have pets and children, as yew bushes are poisonous. 

Yew ‘Standishii’

Close-up of Taxus baccata 'Standishii' in a sunny garden. Taxus baccata 'Standishii' is an elegant evergreen shrub revered for its graceful, upright growth habit and striking foliage. Its needles are dark green and arranged densely along ascending branches, forming a columnar silhouette that adds vertical interest to garden landscapes. Small, round, red berries grow at the tips of the stems.Elevate your garden with striking ‘Standishii’ topiaries boasting colorful foliage.

If you like the idea of a yew topiary but want something taller, try the ‘Standishii’ variety! This variety is tall and narrow and will make a great cone or spiral shape. The needles on ‘Standishii’ are yellow rather than deep green, which is more common with yew bushes. 

This variety will produce red cones, adding a colorful contrast to your gardens. ‘Standishii’ provides beautiful tall lines to foundation gardens and would perform nicely in large containers as well. 

Final Thoughts

Whichever of these plants you choose to grow in your garden, there is one thing you need to keep in mind. Be patient. Learning the skill of topiary shaping can be tricky. Do not rush yourself.

Do not rush your plant. Pruning off too much or making harsh cuts can slow down the process. If you are a true novice, look for a pre-shaped topiary that you can practice trimming before you start from scratch. Either way, have fun. This is a very rewarding process!

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