How to make hypertufa pots and planters

Make Your Own Faux Volcanic Rock

by Nanette Richford


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If you dream of elegant stone planters and garden art, but simply can't justify the cost, there is another solution. Making your own hypertufa pots saves money while producing attractive planters.

What is Hypertufa?

Hypertufa is a combination of Portland cement, peat moss, and perlite molded into the desired shape. This faux volcanic rock looks like the real thing, is lightweight, and is inexpensive to make.

Molds

Sturdy cardboard boxes, Styrofoam coolers, old planters, bowls, or buckets work well for molds. Choose two containers with the same overall shape but in different sizes, such as two mixing bowls or two sturdy boxes for your first project.

Preparing the Molds

Line the mold with plastic sheeting, pulling the edges over the top and smoothing the sides with your hands. Tape the plastic to the top of the mold to hold it in place. Secure plastic over the outside of the smaller container.

Mixing Hypertufa

Mix one part Portland cement, 1 1/2 parts perlite, and 1 1/2 parts peat moss in a wheelbarrow or large container. Add water until the mixture reaches a consistency of "mud pies." A ball made from the mixture should hold its shape. Allow the mixture to set for 10 minutes before filling the molds.

Filling the Mold

Cover the bottom of the mold with a two-inch layer of the hypertufa mixture. Insert the second mold so that it is centered in the outer mold. You should have a two-inch gap between the two molds. Fill in the gap with hypertufa, pressing it into place between the molds.

Curing the Hypertufa

Mist the surface of the hypertufa lightly with water and place it inside a large black trash bag.

Inflate the bag slightly to prevent contact with the hypertufa and seal the bag tightly. This keeps in moisture and allows it to cure naturally. This stage may take two to three days to complete.

To check the progress, open the bag after 24 hours. Scrape the surface with your fingernail. If the hypertufa scrapes easily, it is not ready, yet. Wait another 24 to 36 hours and test again.

Remove the planter from its mold. Use caution as it is still fragile at this point. Place the planter back inside the trash bag and seal tightly. Allow the hypertufa to cure for one month.

Preparing the Hypertufa Pot for Planting

Lime is a natural byproduct of cement and must be removed before using your planter. This powdery residue is harmful to both plants and skin. Wear protective gloves and avoid inhaling the residue.

Place the finished planter in a large container of water. Change the water once a day for three to four days to leach the lime from the surface. If your planter is too large to submerge in water, place it outside and hose it down several times a day for three to four days.

Fill the hypertufa pot with a potting media and plant as usual.

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