Cleanliness is next to Godliness!
You need to take great care when trimming your prized topiary or hedging. Dirty & blunt hedge trimmers can do a lot of damage to your plants. Always ensure that the hedge trimmers you are using are spotlessly clean and razor sharp before using. Clean trimmers before and after use to minimise the risk of spreading disease. Sharp blades will ensure a good clean cut. Blunt blades will crush rather than cut stems which will cause bruising and look unsightly.
If using a contractor or local gardener to trim your topiary or hedges, chances are that the equipment they use will be dirty or have been used to trim other hedges. Talk to your gardener to make sure the equipment they use is clean and sharp. Clean all trimmings up after pruning and knock the hedge with the rake or a broom to loosen clippings trapped in the hedge. Clean out the bottom of the hedge to avoid excessive build up of old clipping and leaves which could harbour pest and diseases.
I’m hungry, so feed me NOW!
Hopefully, your topiary will be around a few years so to keep it looking sharp then you’ll need to feed it on a regular basis. Feeding the plants not only helps them look good but it also makes them feel good too! Healthy plants have a better resistance to pests and disease. Use a good slow release fertilizer to top dress in spring and a liquid feed during the growing season. Don’t feed after the end of September as this may encourage new growth which will be damaged by early frosts and look unsightly. As always please follow the label recommendations when applying fertilizers and never be tempted to over apply as this will have the reverse affect on the plant.
A crucial part of keeping your topiary looking good is getting the right amount of water to it at the right time of the year. Once established, topiary planted in the garden soil will usually fend for itself. You’ll usually only need to water them in long dry periods, once or twice a week is fine. For new planted topiary then more careful monitoring will be required and in drier weeks they’ll need watering every other day. For topiary planted in containers, it is essential that you keep them well watered throughout the year. Even in winter, topiary in pots will need to be kept moist as hard frosts can freeze the roots and prevent it from taking up moisture.
One of the most common causes of plant fatalities during winter is ‘drying out’. This is where a plant cannot take up moisture through the roots due to being frozen and then the plant being exposed to cold, drying winds which slowly desiccate the plant. The plant loses moisture from the leaves but is unable to take moisture up. To help prevent this, keep plants watered but not over watered and if practicable move the plants into a more sheltered spot. Please bare in mind that during winter the plant will not be growing so you need only keep the pot moist and not overflowing with water. Top tip for topiary in containers? Simple, don’t let them dry out!