This is an UnFinished Object (UFO) from last winter. I’m tired of seeing the unruly growth and this plant is ready for the next stage of the project. To fully fill in the topiary, it takes approximately 3 to 6 years depending upon the size of plant and its growth rate. My philodendron plant is 4 years old. Last year I formed the teepee. Now I shaped the heart. From base of plant pot to top of heart, this topiary stands 4 feet high.
Skill Level: Intermediate (requires strength; some danger from sharp wire; easiest with 2 people)
Cost: less than $20 to purchase the wire (other items are standard tools)
Time Required: 2 & 1/2 hours
- vining plant in pot
- measuring tape
- copper wire (approximately 16 or 18 gauge when separated)
- rust resistant galvanized wire 16 gauge
- wire cutter
- needle nose pliers
- bar clamp or c-clamp
All supplies are standard items available at your local hardware stores. Copper wire costs more than galvanized wire. Copper wire is more difficult to locate in desired gauge. I bought the galvanized wire packaged in the hardware section and the copper wire cut to specific length in the electrical section. When calculating your project needs, if you plan to twist the wire, then double the length of wire in your calculations. Also, for twisting, allow for wire shrinkage. 90 inches shrunk to 86 inches after twisted together.
I previously tried this type of project with thinner gauged (gauge wire and 16 gauge untwined. Based on experience, the 16 gauge twined together adds strength and decoration to the topiary. I used galvanized wire for the teepee and copper wire for the heart.
First, determine approximate desired height of finished topiary. From the height, subtract the height of the top decorative heart and height of the plant pot. To the resulting figure, add 3 or 4 inches to insert wire into soil for stability. Example: end height is 4 feet, heart is 12 inches, and plant pot is 6 inches. 48 inches minus 12 inches minus 6 inches plus 4 inches equals 34 inches. When cutting the wire, allow a few extra inches for shrinkage after twisting and to tie ends. It’s easy to cut excess wire afterward.
For the teepee, I twisted 2 wires 36 inches long for each of the 4 legs. To begin, one person holds the ends of 2 wires with pliers. (Figures 1a & 1b) Then the other person begins twisting while gently pulling the wire. If the pliers loose grip of wire, then switch to a bar clamp or c-clamp to continue holding the wire during the twisting process. (Figures 2a & 2b) While twisting, attempt to twist evenly. It’s easy to untwist and correct eveness if necessary. After the length is fully twisted, then straighten out the kinks. I used the pliers to help remove some kinks while twisting the wire. When completed with all 4 legs, twist top ends together.
Prepare vine plant by carefully separating and unknotting the vines. Then carefully anchor the teepee into the plant pot. Next, carefully weave the vines through and around the teepee. At the top, leave excess lengths of vine hanging to allow a few inches for working to attach the heart to the teepee.
Work with twisting the copper wire in the same manner as with the galvanized wire. Determine height and width of the heart. I twisted 2 wires 90 inches long together to form the two hearts. Then I twisted 30 inches together and cut into 6 peices 4 inches long for the supporting bars. After cutting the 6 peices, untwist 1/2 inches at both ends of each peice. (Figures 3a & 3b) Work with one heart first to attach the bars by twisting the bars to the heart. (Figures 4) Then twist the other end of the bars to attach the second heart. (Figure 5) The heart is ready to anchor to the teepee.
Untwist a bit of the top of the teepee to prepare to twist onto the bottom of the heart. The size of my project required additional supports. I used single strands of wire for the additional supports hoping that they would not take the observers focus away from the heart. Then carefully weave remaining vines through and around the heart. (Figures 6a & 6b)
This project requires minimal ongoing maintenance to weave vines as they continue growing. Eventually the heart will be visibly outlined by the vines and leaves. The topiary is now ready for display and admiration. Enjoy!
Thanks expressed to my Dad who gladly assisted me with this project. Together we collaborated on the process to achieve the end result.