Topiaries for Christmas
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Marta Weeless
Posted on: September 10, 2008

I have 2 dwarf Greek myrtles and 2 small starts of rosemary and a large rosemary. I want to make topiaries. If I start working with my small plants now, how do I shape them without endangering them? I would like to shape one of the rosemaries into a Christmas tree and the other round. Is it too late to start with the large rosemary plant? It is about 18 inches (45 cm) tall.

That depends very much on what shape it is now. Remember to never trim off more than one third of the growth at any one time to prevent too big a shock to the plant. Going by what most upright growing rosemaries look like, I would presume it is the best candidate for the future Christmas tree. Just trim off the worst of the branches -- as far as the future desired shape is concerned, wait for new growth and then do it again. Remember, that if you nip out a growing point this point will no longer inhibit the growth of lower buds and you will get profuse branching. You want this if you wish to make a ball. So nip out the top growth bud of the little rosemaries, but do nothing else with them until you have a sturdy, bushy plant.

What is the best way to shape a Greek myrtle and can it really be used as an herb? If so, what is it comparable to?

Shape it the same way as the rosemary. It is used as a substitute for bay laurel in cooking and the twigs are used in corsages as greenery.

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