Saturday, February 7, 2015

Winter Project - Making Hypertufa Planters

During the past few weeks, I have been channeling my creative juices into making hypertufa planters for the garden.  If I can't be outside planting or harvesting, this seems like the next best thing.  This was my first attempt at making hypertufa and I must admit that I was really happy with the results.  Hypertufa is essentially made from  a combination of peat moss, perlite (or vermiculite), Portland cement and water.  The process for making these planters was fairly straight forward and the ingredients were easy to work with.  You can use pretty much anything as a mold and there's no special equipment involved - just a large cement mixing tub, latex gloves, a dust mask and a wire brush.

Hypertufa is meant to resemble tufa rock. What's great about hypertufa is that while it has the look of a planter made from natural stone or concrete, it weighs much less.  You can also add cement dye to the mix to play around with color.  For my first attempts, I decided to forgo any dye and keep things simple.  You can also add texture to these planters.  In this case, I lined one of my molds with bubble wrap to add a honeycomb effect.

After leaving the hypertufa for 24 - 48 hours to set, the planters were ready to be unmolded.  (Using cooking spray helps.)  Now they'll be covered in plastic and left to cure for at least a month.  The curing process helps to strengthen the hypertufa - allowing you to leave it outdoors during the winter while other materials may split or crack.  Once cured and completely dried, the hypertufa should lighten in color. 

I also made a large hypertufa trough by using a styrofoam cooler we had lying around as the outer mold and a smaller cardboard box lined with duct tape as the inner mold.  For added strength and stability, I mixed some nylon fibers I'd purchased online into the hypertufa mix.

I can't wait to plant these up with all sorts of alpines and succulents this upcoming summer.  Traditional rock garden plants will thrive in these shallow planters.  If you're interested in learning more about how to make hypertufa, here are a couple of great instructional videos.



  1. I bought all the ingredients to make these and never got around to it.
    You've re-inspired me. Yours looks great!

  2. LOVE those! What a great idea, Thomas - I will definitely give these a go in the future.

  3. That looks like fun. I tend to not use pots though. I do have a few. Some for my mint. And a single one for the front door. Sometimes I almost kill the mints with not watering them enough. I'm so bad with pots. At least the main garden gets natural rain often enough.

    1. Daphne, I'm terrible with pots too, which is why I'll only be planting succulents in these. I figure they'll be able to take the neglect.