How to Make Hypertufa Planters

Would you like to give your garden a different look? Hypertufa, or tufa, plant pots have a coarsely textured, stone look. With their thick, porous texture, they are good quarters and backdrops for smaller plants, such as cacti, succulents, and alpine plants. These are versatile pots that you make yourself, so they can be any size you want. Does that tickle your green thumb? If so, read on.

Steps

  1. 1
    Have your supplies ready, especially the pots or molds you will use.
  2. Image titled Mix the dry materials.
    2
    Mix three parts peat moss, three parts Perlite, and two parts Portland cement in a wheelbarrow, bucket, or other large container. Vermiculite can be used in place of perlite for a more workable hypertufa. Perlite resists water where vermiculite will absorb it. The vermiculite concrete will be harder than perlite concrete
    • Measurements may be approximate.
    • Try to get all the lumps out of the peat moss for best texture.
    • Wear gloves and avoid breathing near the mixture.
    • You can use a shovel or trowel to stir.
  3. Image titled Gradually add water.
    3
    Gradually add water and stir the mixture, until you achieve a stiff, workable "mud pie" consistency.
    • You should be able to form a ball of the mixture in your hand.
      Image titled The right consistency.
  4. 4
    Place some of the mixture in a plastic plant pot, bucket, or other form.

    • Whatever you use as the form should be much larger than the opening you want in the finished plant pot, because the walls will be quite thick.
    • Make sure the shape of the pot or form you use will allow you to remove the finished planter easily. It should have sloped sides with no undercuts.
  5. Image titled Press the mixture against the sides, forming thick walls.
    5
    Press the mixture against the sides of the form, leaving a thick wall with an opening for a plant. Make the walls 1-2 inches (2.5 to 5cm) thick. You will be able to see the shape of the finished plant pot as you complete it.
  6. Image titled Finished form, showing drainage hole.
    6
    Add a hole in the bottom for drainage. You can use your finger to form the hole.
  7. 7
    Allow the planter to dry thoroughly for about 7 days. To reach full strength the concrete will need 28 days total however the initial 7 days will provide an 75-80% strength
  8. 8
    Carefully de-mold the planter and add soil and plants.

Tips

  • Hypertufa is quite alkaline and may cause the soil you place in it to become alkaline, also. Choose plants that prefer alkaline soil.
  • You can embed materials, such as leaves, in the sides to create imprints. Or, texture the material with a wire brush.
  • Use Portland cement, not ready-mix concrete.
  • Try this using this material to make stepping stones and other garden statuary, too.
  • Please be aware of the possible environmental consequences[1] of using peat moss. See the tips section for more information.
  • You can mix the dry ingredients and store the mix, wetting only as much of it at a time as you need for one project.[2]
  • Naturally occurring tufa.
    Tufa[3] is a naturally-occurring, porous rock formed by precipitation of calcium. Hypertufa[4] is a mixture of Portland cement and various aggregates in imitation of naturally-occurring tufa.

Warnings

  • Wear gloves when handling Portland cement and avoid skin contact. If your skin does contact this mixture, rinse well.
  • Avoid breathing the dry mixture or getting it in eyes.
  • Hypertufa is very alkaline and can damage your plants unless you 'cure' it. Leave your pot outside exposed to the elements until the next planting season and the pot will be safe to use.
  • If you are particularly ecologically-minded, you may wish to consider the possible ecological consequences[5] of using peat moss.

Things You'll Need

  • 3 parts peat moss
  • 3 parts Perlite
  • 2 parts Portland cement
  • Water
  • Container in which to mix (wheelbarrow, large plastic bin/bucket)
  • Gloves
  • Shovel or trowel
  • Plastic plant pots or other containers to use as forms
  • Leaves or other texture items (optional)

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