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hypertufa how-not-to

June 30, 2010

I would just like to announce that after my silly little blog post yesterday, in which I superimposed bambi over the ‘rents SUV, I had my own little bambi experience this morning.  Thankfully, the deer that darted out from nowhere’s life was spared by roughly 1/4″.  Yours truly suffered a heart attack, though.  Karma!!


I had no clue what a hypertufa was (and I still am not sure how to pronounce it) until Martha mentioned it in her mag a few months ago.  It looked super-interesting and relatively easy, so I gave it a shot.

Directions are here, but the main gist of it is that you mix peat moss, perlite, and portland cement, then pour your gloppy mixture into a mold and let it sit until dry.  Sounds easy enough, right?  And since it was late April/early May when I decided to tackle this project, I thought the pots would make an excellent mother’s day present for my gardening momma.

The project supplies/costs were: Peat moss, perlite, portland cement (~$16 total from my local big box hardware store), baskets (~$11 from the local goodwill), duct tape (already had), paint cans/other fillers to hold the hole (already had), and a sleepy dog to take a nap right in the middle of your work space (this is optional, but I went for it since I already had one).  You’ll also want mold-release spray, which I did not have, and which is why this is a how-not-to post instead of a how-to post.

If your baskets have holes, you’ll want to prep them by covering the outside of the basket in duct tape, like so:

And then you create the bottom of your planter by filling the basket with your peat moss-perlite-cement mix until you have a sturdy base.

Then, pop in the container that will be used to create the hole in the pot, fill around the container and let dry.

I had some of my mix left over, so I thought I’d try to make a few smaller containers for candles and whatnot, which explains the beer bottle in the yogurt container above.

Here’s where I note that it’s a rad idea to cover your stuff in the mold-release spray before pouring any of your mix in… otherwise, like I, you will end up with a piece of garbage art entitled beer bottle cemented in yogurt container, which is lovely and all, but not quite as pretty or useful as you might think given such a charming title.  You will also end up with paint cans cemented into baskets.  Again, lovely (to some… maybe?), but not quite the initial goal of the project.

By some miracle, one of the baskets separated from the cement easily (even without the spray!) and I was able to gift it to my gardening momma for M-day. Yes!

The pattern in the basket used for this mold was subtle, and I think I like the rustic subtle imperfect look of the above pot.

I’ll definitely be trying this one again – I think I can reuse my basket molds (after I take a sledgehammer to the concrete inside of them), and I have enough portland cement for at least 3 more pots, meaning that even though my first 3 attempts cost $27, my next three should cost only $6 (for perlite & peat moss).  Worth a shot, right?  Only this time, I’ll totally be using that mold-release spray.

Has anyone else attempted the art of hypertufa-making?  If so, do you have any other tips for me?  I think I might need to work on getting the consistency of the mixture just right… mine may have been a little too dry…

I’m linking this post up to the DIY Showoff’s Project Parade and The CSI Project: Outdoor Decor. Stop by both of these sites for more awesome project-y goodness!

13 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2010 1:15 pm

    What a cute idea!!! Very rustic/vintage look. I have never tried this, but think it could dress up my yard nicely!

  2. June 30, 2010 1:50 pm

    I have always wanted to try this since seeing it a few years ago in Make magazine. They look so fun!

  3. Debbie permalink
    June 30, 2010 7:07 pm

    I love the look of the pot! What a great idea.
    More importantly, I’m glad you survived both attacks of the Bambis!

  4. June 30, 2010 7:10 pm

    I’ve never tried this, but it’s very cool.

  5. June 30, 2010 8:59 pm

    See how easy it is to hit a deer? Glad your heart and car survived the ordeal. You should see my pot now, the plants are growing great in my hypertufa!! (Wow, I learned a new word today!)

  6. GGG permalink
    July 1, 2010 2:57 pm

    Like I’ve said before, you are soooooo clever!

  7. July 6, 2010 1:37 pm

    Too funny, and a great tip for the rest of us!

  8. July 7, 2010 9:51 pm

    Very cute! They are a lot of work. My Aunt made these hypertufa pots. She made all sizes and shapes. Some big, really big, and not so but. Also she did candle holders. I don’t know her “tips”, but I know she sold many of them and made some money. (which is always good). Good Luck with your hypertufa (however you spell it) pots.

  9. July 7, 2010 10:24 pm

    Hi Jen-

    I love these – so natural looking and can go with any decor. How clever you are. I have a bunch of baskets I was thinking of taking to Goodwill – you have saved them that fate as I am going to make a few of these planters with them now. Thanks for sharing a great idea.
    My best – Diane

  10. Katie Stewart permalink
    May 1, 2012 10:48 pm

    I have been making Hypertufa pots for about 3 years now as a business. I think I have the process down to a science… I have many photos of my pots on my Facebook page….Katie Stewart, Fort Worth, Texas. Or you can email me at


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