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Make Hypertufa Pots

Create rustic, textured pots from Portland cement, perlite (or vermiculite), and water. Follow these basic steps and take a look at our ideas for using the technique to make custom containers in the size, shape and look of your choice. 

 Three hypertufa pots

Project Overview

Skill Level

Beginner

Estimated Time

Few hours

Estimated Cost

$$$$$

Tools and Materials

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

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Instructions

Step 1

 Hypertufa Step 1: Mix dry ingredients

Measure ingredients in a 1:1:1 ratio in proportion to the volume of your container. Combine Portland cement, perlite (or vermiculite) and peat moss in a large tub or container. Mix ingredients well with your hands before adding 1 part water.

Always wear gloves and a mask when mixing. Remove any large pieces and break up any chunks so they will mix well with the water.

Step 2

Hypertufa Step 2: Add water

Add water slowly, and mix it in well. Avoid getting the mix too wet.

Step 3

Hypertufa

The proper mixture should have the consistency of cottage cheese - when you squeeze the mix in your hand, it should stick together and a little water should drip from it. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes.

Step 4

Hypertufa

Spray the inside of the 5-quart pail with nonstick cooking spray. Press a little of the mixture into the bottom of the mold. Add more of the mixture, working your way up the sides.

Step 5

Hypertufa

Once the sides are covered with the mixture, spray the outside of the 2-1/2-quart pail with nonstick cooking spray. Insert the 2-1/2-quart pail into the middle of the 5-quart pail to create a pot.

Step 6

Hypertufa

Tap around the outside of the container with a rubber mallet to move large bubbles to the surface. Smooth any lumps around the top edge with your hands to get the desired shape.

Step 7

Hypertufa

Wrap the hypertufa with a plastic bag to hold in the moisture as it cures. Let it set up for 24 to 36 hours before gently removing from the mold.

Step 8

Hypertufa

Once the hypertufa pot has cured, tap the sides of the pail with the rubber mallet to loosen the pot. Set in a dry place for two to three weeks to finish drying.

Step 9

Hypertufa

The pot will cure to a light gray. File or sand the edges for a smoother finish. Use a drill and a 3/8-in. bit to create a drainage hole in the bottom of the pot.

Expand on this basic technique to make interesting hypertufa structures. Change your molds to make larger or smaller pots. Give a pot texture by choosing molds with designs, or add items - such as dowel rods - to the hypertufa mixture.

Hypertufa Design Ideas

Now that you know how to make a hypertufa pot, get creative. Try different shapes and textures and explore ways to make the most of your hypertufa creations.

 

Because of its natural look, a hypertufa container fits right into a rock garden. Filled with cheerful pink phlox and surrounded by bright white candytuft, this trough is an instant focal point.

Part of hypertufa’s appeal is that you can experiment with different textures. For example, you can go with a smooth look. Or you can create an interesting effect with bubble wrap, burlap, or even a rug pad.

 

Shape

Rectangular, Bowl-Shaped and Pot-Shaped Hypertufa Planters with Plants.

Experiment with different container shapes, ranging from troughs and rectangles to bowls and pots. It’s okay to mix them -- the common material links a collection of pots with varying shapes and sizes. You can even tie the look together with a decorative finish. In the example in the lower right, we painted the pots with copper spray paint and then used a rag to lightly dab on turquoise paint for a weathered look.

Texture

Examples of Textures Added to Hypertufa Containers with Bubble Wrap, Bamboo and a Rug Pad.

Part of hypertufa’s appeal is that you can experiment with different textures. In addition to a smooth look, you can create interesting effects with bubble wrap, a rug pad or even by embedding random bamboo into the hypertufa before it dries.

Placement

A Rectangular Hypertufa Container in a Rock Garden and a Trio of Pots and a Mix of Different Containers in a Yard.

Hypertufa containers can be surprisingly lightweight, so you can easily place them wherever some decoration is needed. Because of its rustic look, a single hypertufa container fits right into a rock garden. Or, you can create a pleasing vignette by grouping an odd number of hypertufa pots together. Mix up the heights and widths for variety. Hypertufa is so easy to make you may end up with more containers than you know what to do with. In that case, use them to expand the garden upward and outward. The collection on the right is housed on an old driveway, where gravel, garden art, and plants help tie it together.

Once you know how to make your own hypertufa pots and other containers, you can create containers to fit any look or type of plant.