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Hypertufa Garden Container

Updated on January 19, 2017
Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

June is from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, but is currently residing in N.Y. She loves to cook and heal naturally with the plants from her garden.

Making Creative Stone Garden Containers

Do you like the look of the old stone planters that were used in the Alpine regions of old or perhaps containers you may have seen in old English gardens covered with moss and lichen patinas? If you do, you can achieve this same look by using a garden craft called "hypertufa" to replicate those old stone containers.

Hypertufa is a messy and easy garden craft. Its creations resemble heavy rock containers. It is made from materials you can purchase at any home improvement store and easily mix up at home. The finished products look like they were skillfully carved out of stone instead of mixed Quickrete medium.

It only takes a few simple ingredients to make fabulous containers for displaying rock-garden plants, Alpine gardens, or succulent plant displays. Working with this medium is like making adult mud pies.

There are probably as many different recipes for the mixture as there are gardeners, so I will only give you my favorite. It is super inexpensive, and the creative possibilities for shapes, sizes, and colors are almost endless.

On this page, you will discover how to make hypertufa garden containers along with the resources for making even more creative hypertufa garden art.

Source

A Simple Technique

The way I do it is much easier that the way some folks like to use a box-in-a-box technique that sandwiches hypertufa and chicken wire in a boxed frame.

Instead, I like to simply pack the hypertufa medium mixture around an upside down plastic pot or planter. And because it's so easy to work with, kind of like working with play-dough, it can be molded into any shape you like.

By pressing leaves, flowers, or other interesting pieces of vegetation into the wet mud, you can create interesting decorative pattern designs. Get creative and sculpt it into pieces that bring interest into your garden.

Supplies You Will Need

  • Peat moss
  • Perlite (for pots) or vermiculite (for sculpture)
  • Portland Cement Type I/ll
  • Coconut Coir Fibers or Concrete Reinforcing fibers
  • Container for measuring
  • Large mixing tub (a wheelbarrow works really well)
  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety Glasses
  • Dust mask
  • Trowel
  • Plastic tarp
  • Plastic container for a mold
  • Wire brush
  • Mold release spray or inexpensive oil (use whatever is the cheapest and most plentiful)
  • Rubber mallet

Adding Color to the Mix

Tips on the Kind of Container Forms NOT to Use

Source

There are as many recipes for hypertufa plant containers as there are gardeners. I like my concrete recipe because it is so much easier to work with. Some folks like to make it difficult by embedding sheets of chicken wire into the hypertufa mixture. Here is my easy "nickels worth" way of mixing.

I like to add strength to my container mixture to ensure the container will last longer. Adding sand makes a more durable, and heavier pot than just using perlite or vermiculite by itself.

Also adding a handful of coconut fiber or fiber-mesh (a synthetic concrete reinforcing fiber) to each batch will strengthen the pot.

Whenever possible I like using coconut fiber best as a peat moss replacement. It is better for the environment as a sustainable renewable product.

You can usually find coconut coir fiber readily available at home improvement stores such as Lowe's, Ace Hardware, Home Depot, and fiber-mesh at masonry supply stores, or online at Amazon. If you can't find it at any of these places, then peat moss is fine.

I like to use an old wheelbarrow to mix up my hypertufa, but you can use anything you like.

Quikrete Portland Cement

SAKRETE OF NORTH AMERICA 112447 47 LB Portland Cement, Type 1
SAKRETE OF NORTH AMERICA 112447 47 LB Portland Cement, Type 1

It is important to ONLY use Portland cement in the hypertufa mix. Do NOT use regular concrete cement. Regular cement will not work. Portland cement doesn't have any aggregate in it. This is a 47 lb. (27.3 kg) bag and the shipping is free.

 

Compressed Coconut Coir Fiber Growing Potting Mix

Kempf Compressed Coco Fiber Growing Potting Mix 10-Pound Block, Medium
Kempf Compressed Coco Fiber Growing Potting Mix 10-Pound Block, Medium

This is the best price I could find for a 11 pounds of the medium. The larger the quantity you get the better the price. The shipping is free for Amazon Prime members.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 part Portland cement
  • 3 parts sphagnum peat moss
  • 2 parts perlite (or vermiculite)
  • handful or two of coconut coir fiber or fiber-mesh
  • 1 part sand for strength

Instructions

  1. Measure and mix the cement, peat moss, perlite (or vermiculite), and a couple big handfuls of reinforcing coconut fiber, or fiber mesh, in your wheelbarrow or tub. It's pretty dusty, so you'll want to be wearing your safety goggles and a dust mask at this stage. It's important to protect your lungs and eyes from the fine dust particles.
  2. Add the water, while stirring with your trowel, until it reaches the consistency of cooked oatmeal. Test the consistency while mixing. Remember, it's much easier to add water than it is to have to readjust the dry ingredients. The mix is ready when a handful is squeezed and holds its shape without releasing more than a few drops of water.
  3. Place the object you have chosen to be your container's shape upside down on your plastic tarp. Pat the cement mixture around your chosen plastic form (such as a foam ice chest) or into a mold (such as a round plastic bowl or a plastic dishpan). Avoid objects with a large lip because it will make the object difficult to remove from the finished stone container.
  4. Pack the mixture around the sides of the object, tamping it down firmly to bond the hypertufa to itself and to avoid a crumbly texture. At least a 1- to 2-inch layer on all sides will create strong walls.
  5. Pat the intended bottom to flatten it out so it will sit flat when it is finished and shape the sides to create the desired thickness of your chosen form.
  6. If you would like to create a pretty embossed design effect on your container, now is the time do it. Dress up your container by pressing evergreen sprigs, leaves, flowers, or anything you like, around the rim of the mold before you start building the sides of your container. Next, insert a PVC pipe, or a dowel, into the center of the bottom of your pot to create a drainage hole for the plant container.
  7. Wrap the container in plastic sheeting or in plastic bags, and leave in a shady spot to dry and harden for about 24 hours.
  8. Remove the plastic wrapping after the hypertufa has hardened for 24 hours. The container will be firm, but will still be soft enough to be pliable. Brush the sharp edges and smooth the top, if desired. To give a rougher, more natural look to the container, score the surface with a hammer or file to give it an "aged" look.
  9. Take out the PVC pipe to reveal the drainage hole and turn the container over. Gently lift to remove the evergreen sprigs or leaves, if you used any. Remove the mold or container.
  10. Re-wrap your container, and place it in a shady place for another two days. After the 48 hours, unwrap it and soak it with a hose periodically over the next couple weeks to leach out the residual lime from the cement, which is toxic and will harm plants. Remember to be patient. The longer it dries the stronger it gets.

Note:

Coconut Coir is the best alternative for peat moss. It is a sustainable renewable product replacement to peat moss. If it is available to you, it can completely replace the peat moss. if not, just use the peat moss, perlite and sand.

 Sculptured Hypertufa Container
Sculptured Hypertufa Container | Source

Fabulous Garden Art & Container Ideas

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Photo of Hyperfuta Plant Container from Hypertufa Garden Mushroom InstructionsHypertufa Plant ContainerPolynesian Tiki HypertufaClamshell Hypertufa Leaf Embossed Ball on Hypertufa TrayBuild a Hypertufa Fairy GardenSculpture Face Hypertufa PlantersHypertufa Planter Garden
Photo of Hyperfuta Plant Container from
Photo of Hyperfuta Plant Container from | Source
Hypertufa Garden Mushroom Instructions
Hypertufa Garden Mushroom Instructions | Source
Hypertufa Plant Container
Hypertufa Plant Container | Source
Polynesian Tiki Hypertufa
Polynesian Tiki Hypertufa | Source
Clamshell Hypertufa
Clamshell Hypertufa | Source
Leaf Embossed Ball on Hypertufa Tray
Leaf Embossed Ball on Hypertufa Tray | Source
Build a Hypertufa Fairy Garden
Build a Hypertufa Fairy Garden | Source
Sculpture Face Hypertufa Planters
Sculpture Face Hypertufa Planters | Source
Hypertufa Planter Garden
Hypertufa Planter Garden | Source

Hypertufa Garden Art Project Idea Videos

These videos have some fabulous garden art ideas to help you unfurl your creativity using hypertufa medium.

A Giant Garden Snail! Recipes and Tips for Planters, Troughs and Garden Sculptures

In this video she first shows how she makes her planter containers. To get to the sculpture technique segment of the video, fast forward to 2:34.

Add Mosaic Pieces

I like to save broken pottery to use in hypertufa projects. In the last home I owned, I had a big box of red and white transferware pieces that came from a set of old china. My "smoother movers" dropped the box of china and the pieces shattered.

You know the old saying, "When given lemons make a cocktail!" So I did. I made a cocktail and went to work making a mosaic hypertufa birdbath for our garden.

It turned out beautifully. I wish I still had the photos.

When I made my birdbath, after it had dried sufficiently I took white grout and covered all the gray portland cement showing between the pieces. I think the white looked much better with the red and white china pieces.

The hypertufa stepping stones (shown below) are a great example of how stunning a mosaic can turn out.

If you don't have any broken crockery, keep your eyes peeled at garage sales this summer for colorful oddball plates, cups, and saucers. I like to use a tile cutting tool to cut pieces into the size I need.

DIY Mosaic Tile Garden Stepping Stones
DIY Mosaic Tile Garden Stepping Stones | Source

Are You Inspired to Make Your Own Hypertufa Container or Yard Art Sculpture?

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    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 3 years ago from New York

      @ramonabeckbritman: Hope it works out for you.

    • ramonabeckbritman profile image

      Ramona 3 years ago from Arkansas

      I like hypertufa plant containers. I just might try to make one. Thanks to you!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @norma-holt: Thanks so much for featuring this lens on yours!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @anonymous: Tipi thanks so much for the visit and recognition on FB. It is greatly appreciated!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @happy-birthday: Have fun with it this summer!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 4 years ago

      Really enjoyed this lens and yes, I think I will try making some of these pots. Featured on https://hubpages.com/living/low-maintenance-plants...

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @tvyps: Thanks so much!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Also FB liked because I love this!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      What a wondrous idea and DIY for everyone to get going on the coolest garden planters ever, I love the old world feel....and the price is sure right for a great look, I'm thinking this could be addictive....and then there's the adding of color here and there! :)

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @sbconcepts: Thanks so much. I hope that hypertufa will be a fun summer project for your plants.

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      topbuilderlist 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing, now I have an idea to make it.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @MarcellaCarlton: Right on! Having fun with hypertufa is the main thing!

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      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      Thank you for publishing this lens. Now I know how to make these things. I've seen them in many places.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @Lee Hansen: Hi Lee, Haven't "seen" you around in a while. Thanks so much for the nice comment.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @brownee lm: Thank you for visiting.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @cmadden: I love them too. That is my next hypertufa container project; sculpting one.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @anonymous: It might be a bit messy making them out on a balcony, but if you succeed you will have to send me photos to post here in a photo galley!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @accfuller: Thanks so much for the visit and the bookmark.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @lionmom100: Have fun with it!

    • happy-birthday profile image

      Birthday Wishes 4 years ago from Here

      Now I know how i need to make one... :-) Thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful lens!!!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @ohcaroline: You are welcome. Glad you enjoyed the info.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @mrdata: I did not get an LOTD for this lens, but thank you for the visit and comment just the same.

    • profile image

      GenesisLabs 4 years ago

      I really enjoyed your lens, great job. This is something I definitely want to try.

    • profile image

      ConvenientCalendar 4 years ago

      I learned a lot! Thank you for sharing!

    • itravel2004 lm profile image

      itravel2004 lm 4 years ago

      Lovely lens and thanks for the info

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      I need to make this mix for my garden molds. Thanks for sharing

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      sbmpower 4 years ago

      Great idea and it looks like fun. Got to give it a try during my free time.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @Mickie Gee: I love succulents and I'll bet they look fabulous in your hypertufa container! Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @aesta1: Thanks so much, Mary. Your support is always appreciated!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @Aunt-Mollie: I am glad you have found it useful.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @QuiltFinger: Cheers to your success! Thank you so much for dropping by and taking the time to comment.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @Ardyn25: Thank you, Ardyn, for your kind words. The people that created the containers in the photos did a spot on job, didn't they?

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @maryseena: Seenamary, creating a hypertufa container is messy work, but it is fun. If you love working in your garden, you will find this a fun project to try. Involving kids can make it even more enjoyable for a 1st time project. Then if you make mistakes you will laugh at the outcome and the next endeavor will be perfection!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @chi kung: Once you get the hang of it it is easy, and it is so fun playing in the hypertufa mud like a child.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @SheGetsCreative: Thanks so much. Glad you like it and perhaps you will attempt to create your own hypertufa containers for your garden.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @Cynthia Haltom: Thanks for stopping by. Let me know your success if you try your hand at making these.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image
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      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      @LiteraryMind: Hypertufa containers can be made any size you want and also work great in smaller container sizes for small spaces too.

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 4 years ago

      How LOVELY this is.. such a gift. Thank you.

    • sbconcepts profile image

      sbconcepts 4 years ago

      Wow, I had never heard of this very creative idea! Thanks for such a beautiful and helpful lens. I will have to try my hand at this project, I just re-potted some flowers today and was looking for a way to add some color to the garden area. You ROCK!

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      That is so cool! You are so creative.

    • cire81 lm profile image

      cire81 lm 4 years ago

      Good lens writing. Keep up the good work and looking forward to more lens from you. Do check out my lens and give me your comment.

    • IMKZRNU2 profile image

      IMKZRNU2 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      You have made this look very easy. Thanks for sharing it with all of us!

    • PhilVardy profile image

      PhilVardy 4 years ago

      Very interesting stuff here.. I think I'll be using some of these ideas this summer..

    • profile image

      MarcellaCarlton 4 years ago

      I love to play in the mud! This is right up my alley. I'll be back.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 4 years ago from Vermont

      We made hypertufa planters for the table centerpieces of our garden wedding. I love hypertufa and really enjoyed this lens.

    • profile image

      lionmom100 4 years ago

      I haven't tried these yet, but would love to do it.

    • brownee lm profile image

      brownee lm 4 years ago

      These are so cool! Thank you for sharing this amazing lens!

    • profile image

      cmadden 4 years ago

      What a great idea! I'm especially impressed with the sculpted ones.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      These look like fun creative projects for those with balconies who can only container garden.

    • accfuller profile image

      accfuller 4 years ago

      I like the looks of these! They kind of look like a giant version of my mini peat trays that I start my seedsin. I gave you a squid-like and a g+1 ... )

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 4 years ago

      What a neat crafty idea for your garden or patio. I bookmarked it for future use. No space now to do large crafts...but will definitely be back later. Thanks for showing me this useful craft.

    • mrdata profile image

      mrdata 4 years ago

      Valuable lens and congrats for your LOTD!

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 4 years ago

      I made a hypertufa container a few years ago at a local garden shop that had a class. I put succulents in mine.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I love these. This is the first time I have heard of it.

    • leifgustafson profile image

      leifgustafson 4 years ago

      Very interesting and informative lens!

    • profile image

      Aunt-Mollie 4 years ago

      I've never seen a recipe to make these before. This is an excellent idea and I'm eager to try this out. Thank you for the detailed explanation.

    • Ardyn25 profile image

      Ardyn25 4 years ago

      I love these! I've never heard of them before. Thanks for the great info and photos.

    • Ardyn25 profile image

      Ardyn25 4 years ago

      I love these! I've never heard of them before. Thanks for the great info and photos.

    • QuiltFinger profile image

      QuiltFinger 4 years ago from Tennessee

      Thanks for sharing this tutorial. I've always wanted to make hypertufa troughs, and now I can!

    • maryseena profile image

      maryseena 4 years ago

      I would like to try, but it seems like a lot of work. I love the results, though. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    • chi kung profile image

      chi kung 4 years ago

      great explanation on how to build a hypertufa - you make it seem so easy to do

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      Looks like fun, I have been using concrete for my garden art, but this looks much better

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      What a cool garden craft. Pinned too!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Great idea for a big garden where one needs a lot of pots. They look so sturdy and yet are lightweight.

    • lisln profile image

      LorLinda 4 years ago from Denver Colorado

      I will have to come back and like it apparently I ran out of likes lol

    • lisln profile image

      LorLinda 4 years ago from Denver Colorado

      awesome lens very informative thanks for taking the time. Looks like you put a lot of effort and work into this lens. Great job!