Creating Hypertufa Containers
Gale Ann Kelly
In the 1930’s, troughs become a popular item to use in
the “English Gardens”. These were made from tufa, a
porous rock, Calcium carbonate. When the demand
exceeded the supply of rock, a man made substitute
was created. This newly made substance became the
basis for man made rocks, birdbaths, and foundations
for small ponds.
The cement is caustic.
Precautions should be
taken when using it.
Always wear gloves
(mask or safety glasses
2 parts peat moss
1 part perlite
1 part Portland Cement
Cement color (optional)
1 part water (water will
vary due to the dryness
of the peat or if coloring
Other recipes available
Rubber gloves, mask, safety glasses
Plastic wrap and cooking spray
Tarp or old shower curtain
Engineered fibers (fiberglass)
A variety of shapes can be used.
Should be large enough to hold soil and plants when finished.
Choose a container that does not have any lip indentions on inside or
is larger at bottom then top
Molds can be sprayed with a cooking
spray such as Crisco or Pam.
Molds can be lined with plastic wrap, thin drop
clothes, shrink wrap or trash bags. This will give a
different texture to the outside of the Hypertufa.
8 quarts peat
4 quarts perlite
4 quarts portland cement
4 quarts water (approx)
Couple pinches of fibers
Depending on size this is
how many containers you
Cost per container is
under a buck.
We sift peat moss if it contains hard
lumps, sticks, etc.
Mix peat and cement thoroughly.
If using fibers, it should be added at this step. Fibers act
like tiny rebar.
Add perlite and mix well.
If using cement coloring, mix with water and add to
dry mixture at this step. We use half the bottle per
Pour water slowly into the dry mixture until it has the
consistency of thick oatmeal.
Allow mixture to sit for about 5-10 minutes to absorb
water and activate the portland cement.
Start by building up the bottom and
Thickness should be between ½ to 2
inches depending on the size of
Make sure the mixture is
firmly pressed using
palm of your hands and
finger tips. If not tightly
packed your hypertufa
may crumble or easily
break when unmolding.
Fill finished hypertufa with sand. This will
help to stabilize the sides and will absorb
some of the moisture.
Allow the hypertufa to dry for about one
week, depending on the humidity. You
do not want it to dry too quickly as your
hypertufa may crumble.
Before removing do a finger nail test.
If your nail barely makes an
indention, then it’s time to unmold.
Carefully remove the hypertufa from
the mold. After unmolding keep
lightly sprayed with water for a couple
weeks. It should cure for about six
weeks before planting.
Container gardens need to be watered more frequently
than garden beds.
Drainage holes can be drilled using a cement bit.
Cover the holes with shards or coffee filters.
Alpine plants, creeping phlox, succulents are good
choices for these containers.
A special thanks to