Make Your Own Hypertufa Container
Hypertufa looks like stone but weighs less and takes whatever shape you want
Hypertufa containers are great to use as plant pots, escpecial for rock garden plants and succulents. As they age, they attract mosses and lichens and take on the quintessential appearance of a PNW plant pot.
Most instructions have you create a form of some sort using boxes or other mold objects. I tried the method suggested by Melissa and found it worked well for me. I like the more free form result. Now is a great time to make some hypertufa planters. The soil is not quite warm enough for working, but we are looking forward to Spring and planting time. Hypertufa takes some time to cure so starting in March will give you some necessary lead time.
Supplies • mixing tub • container for measuring • peat moss • perlite • Portland cement • concrete reinforcing fibers • dust mask • rubber gloves • trowel • plastic drop cloth • plastic container for a mold • wire brush
Directions for the Hypertufa mix 1 part Portland cement 1 1/2 parts sphagnum peat moss I 1/2 parts perlite
To add strength, Melissa recommends adding a small handful of fibermesh, a synthetic concrete reinforcing fiber, to each batch, which is easier to work with than sheets of wire mesh embedded in the hypertufa. You can find fibermesh at masonry-supply stores or online. I've tried this approach with and without the mesh. The larger the container the better it is to use the fibermesh. It may help extend the life of the container as well.
5 Easy Steps
1. Make the Hypertufa Mix. Measure and mix the peat moss, perlite, cement, and a small handful of reinforcing fibers in your tub. There will be plenty of dust, so be sure to wear your dust mask. Add the water while stirring with your trowel. Test the consistency frequently. It's easier to add water than adjust the dry ingredients. When a squeezed handful retains its shape and doesn't release more than a few drops of water, the mix is ready.
2. Mold Mix to Form. Mold the mixture around the object you selected as a form. Place the object upside down on the plastic drop cloth. Avoid objects with a pronounced lip since it would make the object difficult to remove from the finished container. Pack the mixture up around the sides of the object, tamping it down firmly to bond the hypertufa to itself and to avoid a crumbly texture. A 1- to 2-inch layer on all sides will create strong walls. Flatten the intended bottom of the completely covered object for stability, and shape the sides to a desired form. Then poke your finger through the bottom to create a drainage hole. Don't forget this step!
3. Wrap and Harden. Wrap the container in the plastic sheeting, and place it in a shady spot for about a day to let it harden.
4. Finish Shaping. Remove the wrapping after the hypertufa harden for a day. The mixture will be firm but still soft enough to work with. Turn the container over, and remove the mold. Brush the sharp edges and the smooth top, if desired, to give a rougher, more natural look to the container. You can also add some design features to the outside, if you like using clay tools. I often using either kitchen or garden tools to make freeform designs.
5. Rewrap and Final Hardening. Rewrap your container, and place it in a shady place for another two days. Then unwrap it, and soak it with a hose periodically over the period of a few weeks to leach out the residual lime from the cement, which would harm plants.
You can be very creative with your Hypertufa. While I make them for my garden, it can also be used garden art and decorative items.