Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Challenge No. 21 Submission - Hypertufa Planters with Tutorial!

Hypertufa planters made by me with the assistance with my nephews.
Hypertufa. There’s a word you don’t hear everyday. So what is it? It’s a type of cement used to make planters, in particular, planters for succulents. When we decided to do a garden challenge, I immediately knew I wanted to do a hypertufa planter. Mostly, I wanted to do one so I could say “hypertufa” a bunch of times.
Getting ready to make some pots.
Since making these planters is the equivalent of playing with mud, I decided it would be the perfect activity to do with my nephews. It’s not often that they are encouraged to get dirty. I picked them up and we got busy. The youngest of my nephews is 6 and his planter turned out great. I think any kid 5 or over could do this project. I do recommend working outside.
The stuff you'll need.
The components of hypertufa are:
• Portland cement
• Perlite
• Peat moss
• Water
You can get these at your local big box home store for about $20-25 total. This will be enough to make about three thousand planters and that’s only a slight exaggeration. This is a great project to do with a group.
Frank Borman the cat tried to get in on the action, too.
Before we start, there is one other thing you should know about making hypertufa planters. You can make them in no time, but it takes 2-3 weeks for them to cure. In other words, if you want to whip these up for father’s day, you better start now. With that said, they would be a great father’s day gift for that gardening dad in your life.

Portland cement
Peat moss
Rubber gloves
Dust mask
Mold (box, pot, planter, etc.)
Plastic bags
Cooking spray
Small dowel or straw
Acrylic fibers for large planters (I did not use these)
Plastic container for scooping & measuring (like a cool whip container)
Wire brush

Step 1: Wrap your mold in a plastic bag, fully covering the area that will be touched by the hypertufa. If your mold is plastic, spray it with cooking spray. The hypertufa will stick to other surfaces and you will not be able to unmold it if it is not covered.
The mold, a cardboard box, is covered with a plastic bag.
Note: We made ours working on the inside of the box. My mom makes hers working on the outside of the box. You can do whatever works for you as long as the surface touching the hypertufa is covered with plastic.

Step 2: Mix 2 parts Portland cement, 3 parts perlite and 3 parts peat moss with enough water to make a mixture with an oatmeal-like consistency. I mixed it with my hands while wearing rubber gloves.
Make sure you work wearing gloves.
Step 3: Working with handfuls of hypertufa at a time, begin building the bottom of your pot. Using the dowel or straw to drill out a hole in the bottom for drainage (I totally forgot to do this the first time; you can also drill a hole with a masonry bit once the piece is cured). Keep a uniform thickness of about one half to three-fourths of an inch. Once the bottom is finished, build up the sides. Again, try to keep a uniform thickness.
After building the bottom, start building up the sides.

Make a big mess, it's more fun that way!
Once that is done, place your planter in a plastic bag and seal the bag. You are going to let it dry inside the bag for 48 hours. After 48 hours, take it out and CAREFULLY unmold it. It will be fragile. Let it continue to dry for two weeks. Once completely dry, you can plant away!
Planted with cactus and succulents.
Now it's time to vote for your favorite "garden" project!

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