Christmas Topiary Ideas: Best Plants For Christmas Topiaries

Four Christmas Topiaries
christmas topiary
(Image credit: MMarieB)

Anyone who feels sad at the sight of cut Christmas trees dumped on the sidewalk in January might think about Christmas topiary trees. These are little trees created from perennial herbs or other evergreens, like boxwood. They work well as a holiday tree.

If you are interested in Christmas indoor topiary, read on. We’ll give you great Christmas topiary ideas so you can start making a Christmas topiary yourself.

Plants for Christmas Topiaries

Tired of buying cut Christmas trees? You aren’t alone. Although these trees may have been raised just to serve as holiday décor, something seems off about killing a tree in order to celebrate Christmas. Still, fake trees don’t have that natural element and not everyone has a big enough backyard to plant potted spruce after Christmas is over.

That brings us to the possibility of using Christmas topiary trees. These are living plants grown in a tree shape that are festive for the holidays but can decorate your house all winter long. If you pick a perennial herb for a topiary tree, you can transplant it in the herb garden in spring.

Making a Christmas Topiary

What is a topiary? Think of it as living sculptures made by snipping, trimming, and shaping the foliage of a plant into shapes. You may have seen topiary shrubs in geometric shapes such as balls.

The first step in making a Christmas topiary is to pick a plant you enjoy. Perhaps the most popular plants for Christmas indoor topiary trees are rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). This herb naturally grows upright into a little needle-leafed tree and is both charming and fragrant.

In addition, rosemary grows well both in a container and outside in the garden, so it will make the transition from topiary to herb garden easily. An established rosemary plant is drought-tolerant and makes an attractive ornamental.

To make a Christmas tree topiary of rosemary or another perennial plant, root a cutting, then train the small plant to grow upward by pruning out lateral buds. Once you get the plant to the desired height, allow the side branches to fill out, pinching them back to encourage a dense “Christmas tree” look.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.