How to Make Hypertufa Pots Without Peat Moss
Cement is a caustic material that can irritate your skin or burn your lungs. Always wear rubber gloves, protective clothing, eye and breathing protection when working with the cement. "True" hypertufa is a substance that uses peat moss. The peat moss decomposes quickly and leaves the characteristic pits and crevices in the hypertufa that make it resemble tufa stone. Coir fiber does not decompose as quickly as peat moss. Hypertufa stone that uses coir fiber will take much longer to resemble tufa stone. For this reason, many gardeners don't consider it to be "true" hypertufa.
Hypertufa is a mixture of concrete, aggregates and organic ingredients used to make planting containers that simulate lightweight alpine limestone. There are many hypertufa recipes that call for peat moss as the primary organic ingredient. Some gardeners are shying away from the use of peat moss. Peat moss is composed of decaying vegetation that is found in peat bogs. Some environmentalists claim the moss is not a sustainable product because the harvesting process damages the bogs. If you do not wish to use peat in hypertufa projects, you can substitute other organic materials.
Combine 2 parts cement, 1 1/2 parts perlite and 2 parts coir fiber in a plastic bucket. Coir fiber is the fiber leftover from coconut husks when coconuts are harvested. It behaves similarly to peat moss and is used in many areas as a peat moss substitute, according to Washington State University Extension.
Add water to the bucket slowly. Mix as you add the water with the hypertufa mixture until the mix resembles cookie dough.
Turn a flowerpot upside down on a work space and cover it with a dry-cleaning bag.
Layer the hypertufa over the bag. The hypertufa will take on the size and shape of the flower pot.
Coat a dowel rod in cooking oil and press it into the hypertufa mixture to create a drainage hole. The oiled wooden dowel rod will pull out of the hardened hypertufa mixture easily.
Soak the flower pot with a spray bottle and cover with the remains of the dry cleaning bag. Allow the container to cure and harden for 24 to 48 hours.
Gently remove the dowel rod and pull the hypertufa container off of the flower pot. Brush the container with a wire bristled brush to soften rough edges. The container will be soft at this point, and can be carved if you desire it.
Set the pot aside and allow it to cure and harden for another seven days before planting anything inside.
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Coir Dust, A Viable Alternative to Peat Moss
- Washington State University Extension: Hypertufa Pots and Troughs
- Oregon State Univeristy Extension: Use Hypertufa to Make Containers that Look Like Stone
- Cornell University Horticulture Department: Fact Sheet - Organic Matter
- The Artistic Garden: Hypertufa Recipe Using Coir
Tracy Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Arkansas.