Topiaries can look classy, such as a traditional ball at the top of a trunk-like base, or whimsical, made in the shape of animals or other figures. Using moss gives you the option to grow climbing plants inside and over the topiary or to create a smooth, finished look with the moss itself.
Topiary forms are essential to keeping the shape you desire. Basic forms, such as circles are squares, are easy to make out of foam. These don't need filling but can be covered with moss. More complicated forms, such as animals, require the use of chicken wire or other types of wire that can be bent and secured easily. You can also buy these forms already made.
Inside the Form
When using a wire form, you must fill it with sphagnum moss to help give the shape definition. This moss comes in a natural faded tan color or dyed green, depending on your needs. Use sphagnum moss by itself to fill in the topiary or as a base for planting climbing vines. Wet the moss thoroughly, and then stuff it in all areas of your form, starting with smaller areas, such as the tail or ears. Pack it as tightly as possible; it expands a bit as it dries, which will wedge it snugly inside the form.
Outside the Form
For foam forms, apply a thin bead of hot glue in a circle and press a handful of sphagnum moss, sheet moss or fern moss to the foam. Hold it for a few seconds until the glue dries, and then cover another area. On the outside of a wire form, pressing sheet moss or fern moss over the sphagnum moss helps create a soft, defined shape. Water it thoroughly right away to help the moss adhere. Alternatively, wrap the outside of the stuffed frame with a microfilament line, such as fishing line, spacing it out every 1/2-inch or so. This works best if the frame is stuffed so tightly that you can no longer see the frame for the moss peeking through. The line holds the moss inside the frame, helping it hold its shape.
Covering With Plants
When you want to cover a topiary form with plants, stuff it with the wet sphagnum moss. Poke a hole in the moss large enough for the climbing vine's root ball, and then push the root ball into the hole. The moss will expand to hold the roots securely. Training the vines over and around the topiary gives you living art for your yard, but you must water the moss thoroughly when it begins to dry out to give your plants enough moisture. The moss doesn't provide nutrients like soil does, so fertilize your plants often during the growing season.
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