Love the look of elegant topiaries at your front door, but find them too expensive? Me, too. Here is how I made a lit Christmas tomato cage topiary that’s every bit as gorgeous as store-bought ones, and I spent just $26 making 2 of them.
In the fall I made topiaries that were stacked pumpkins and fall leaves and flowers. Here is the link to the post if you’d like to read up on that for next year. I really liked the look and wanted to create ones for Christmas, too. My vision was a Christmas tree adorned with poinsettias, red and gold garland, a gold star on top and white lights. I had a feeling purchasing one pre-made would be out of my budget. So, I decided to make my own.
Here are the supplies for a Christmas tomato cage topiary.
To begin with, I already had the 2 black pots filled with dirt, once I removed the pumpkins and flowers from my fall topiaries. Here’s what they looked like:
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Here are the planters I bought, if you’d like to get some.
I live in Florida, so gardening supplies are available year-round in our local stores. I picked up 2 tomato cages at Ace Hardware for $3 each and then headed to the dollar store.
At Dollar Tree, I found 7 ft lengths of plain green garland. I had no idea how much I would need, but it was only a dollar for a 7 ft. garland, so I bought 6 packages. (In looking back, I think 8 is better, just so the topiaries are more filled out, but it was okay.) I also bought 2 packages of 12 ft. long garland that was red and gold twisted together and 4 bunches of silk poinsettias (that had 6 flowers on each). I found gorgeous gold sparkly ornaments that would be perfect for the topper. Since they were flat, I had to buy 4 to make them 3 dimensional so they would sit on the tops of the trees. And finally, I bought 2 large strings (100 lights each) of white lights.
Total cost per topiary was $10 worth of items at the dollar store and $3 for each tomato cage, bringing my total cost to $26 for both topiaries! Score!
Steps to make an easy, yet elegant Christmas tomato cage topiary.
Making the tree.
Attaching the green garland is the most time-consuming part. Attach the garland with twist ties. We have a whole box of twist ties left over from bread in our junk drawer because they come in so useful! Because I had so many, I was able to sort out just the green ones to use. (Here’s how to organize your junk drawer using recycled boxes, like I did.)
Anchor the end of the first piece of garland to the base of the tomato cage with a twist tie and start wrapping the cage. Take it from me, wrap the garland on a BIT loosely to keep a nice shape. If you wrap it too tight, the tree will take on a very concave weird shape.
Adjust, tweak, and adjust some more.
To keep the garland from drooping, attach it to each of the 3 circles of the cage. Attach the garland to the posts in the areas where the garland sags down. It does take a lot of adjusting to make sure none of the cage shows through, but spend the extra time. It’s worth it in the end (so no one knows your little secret).
Finishing off the top of the tree.
Once you wind all 3 packages onto the tomato cage, there is the matter of the 3 wires still sticking up at the top, as you can see in the picture above. My idea was to use 2 large washers to secure the wires through. But, I couldn’t find ones large enough in our tool box. I did find 2 large metal nuts instead. And I think those worked even better because they were both thicker and stronger.
Thread the 3 metal wires through the nut and push the nut down as far as you can. It will form a nice Christmas tree shape. Then bend the wires down over the nut to keep it in place. It will make a perfect little point at the top for the star to sit on. And the wire is thin enough that you can easily bend it by hand.
Attaching the decorative garland.
To attach the garland I started at the top. I attached it with another twist tie and them wrapped it around the topiary all the way to the bottom. Since the garland is 12 ft long, it easily covers the entire topiary.
To keep the garland in place on those windy days, attach it with a dot of hot glue here and there around the topiary.
Attaching the poinsettias.
Use a pair of needle-nosed pliers or wire cutters to cut the stems very close to the flowers. You are going to hot glue the flowers on so you don’t need much stem. And, as you’ll see later, those stems are going to be used as anchors to keep your topiary from blowing away.
First, place the flowers all over the topiary until you get the coverage you want before hot gluing them. Don’t forget to add a few in the back of the tree as well to really fill it out. Even though I had 24 flowers, I actually ended up not using several of them because there wasn’t room. Once you have them placed where you want them, attach them with hot glue.
Making the star.
As I mentioned above, I found these great ornaments that I really wanted to use for my stars. But they were flat and wouldn’t sit on the top of my trees. So I hot glued two ornaments together at the top, while holding the bottom part open, so that they stood on their own. Once it dries, the hot glue is still a bit flexible, so the stars fit nicely on the trees.
Finished topiaries set in their pots.
Anchoring the topiary.
Because the tomato cage is upside down, there really isn’t a way to anchor it into your pot. So, recycle those leftover poinsettia stems. Cut them down to the main stem and bend them into a U shape. I like using these because they are covered with a rubberized material so they don’t rust. They are easy to bend, too. And, best of all, they are green so they blend in with the greenery. Each bunch of poinsettias I bought had 6 stems on each main stem. Even though I used 2 bunches of flowers for each topiary, I only made 6 anchors for each one. And that seemed to be enough to hold my topiaries securely. But you have the potential to make 24 anchors if you really wanted to!
Adding the lights.
Wait until it is dark to attach the lights. Start at the bottom of the topiary and work your way up. It makes it much easier to see if there are any gaps. There will be quite a few lights left over at the top. Gather them all up and put them inside the star topper so that the light shines out through the filigree, too. That way, the very top of the tree is lit, too. Once you have the lights where you want them, attach them here and there with twist ties to keep them in place.
Finished elegant Christmas topiaries on either side of front door.
No one will guess they are made from tomato cages!
During the day.
And at night.
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I really think my Christmas tomato cage topiary turned out every bit as gorgeous as a store-bought one.
And since it cost just $26 to make 2 of them, it hardly made a dent in my Christmas budget. 🙂
Do you like them?
So what are you waiting for? Go make your own! And send me a photo. I’d love to see your design!