The right plants for hypertufa

What types of plants can you use for hypertufa?

Because of it’s natural environment, hypertufa products are perfect to hold a wide variety of plants. You can plant pretty much anything you like but always keep in mind what the best growing season is for a particular plant. Take a look at the following plants that will happily grow in your artificial tufa trough, container or whatever you decide to put them in.

Now, you have an idea of what kind of plants to use for hypertufa. You might want to check out our free hypertufa recipe tutorial. It’s a great video with a bunch of useful tips and insights. You can find the recipe written in text on that page too, so you can save it to work on at home.

How to paint cement

Paint cement to color your hypertufa

Have you wondered how to paint cement for your hypertufa project? In order to create a natural look you will have to add some color to your project. There are tons of possibilities for this but the list is too long to put them all down here. Instead just download the Cement Color Products Reference Guide.
paint cement for hypertufa
SPECIAL NOTE: The “Cement Color Products Reference Guide(s)” are the sole exclusive copyrighted property of Holland & Tucker. Feel free to print for your own personal use, however they are not to be reproduced for publication anywhere without the original author’s written consent. Copyright © Holland & Tucker 2004.

The Color Products Reference Guide includes:

  • Wet/Dry Product Types
  • Application Techniques
  • Color Considerations
  • Product Availability
  • Products & the Name-Brand Manufacturers
  • Permanence of the Colorants
  • Artist comments

Hypertufa safety measures

Make hypertufa safely!

hypertufa safety measures

Protect your skin

When working with fresh concrete, care should be taken to avoid skin irritation or chemical burns. Prolonged contact between fresh concrete and skin surfaces, eyes, and clothing may result in burns that are quite severe, including third-degree burns. If irritation persists consult a physician. For deep burns or large affected skin areas, seek medical attention immediately.

One of the ingredients for hypertufa is Portland cement. Portland cement is alkaline in nature. This means it is strongly basic (pH of 12 to 13). Strong bases, like strong acids, are harmful and caustic to your skin. When Portland cement dries it absorbs water. (It’s hygroscopic.) This means that it will draw water from anything it contacts. This includes your skin!

When mixing, applying and finishing your hypertufa you need to wear clothing worn as protection from fresh concrete. Use waterproof gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, and long pants. The best way to avoid skin irritation is to wash frequently with pH neutral soap and clean water. Also put on clean clothing before you start to work and take a good shower after you have finished.

Protect your airways

Firstly, when mixing Portland cement make sure you wear a fine-particle dust mask. Exposure to cement or concrete dust can cause nose and throat irritation. Long term exposure to concrete dust containing crystalline silica can lead to a disabling lung disease called silicosis. Secondly, follow all safe work practices and procedures. Work in ways that minimize the release of cement dust. Stay out of dusty areas, when possible. Mix dry cement in well-ventilated areas. Wet down the work to keep dust out of the air and use wet cut rather than dry cut masonry products.

Protect your eyes

When your cement is dry or when you are scraping off some last bits to finish up your hypertufa, wear goggles! If cement dust makes contact with your eyes it may cause immediate or delayed irritation. Depending on how much and how long you have been in contact with cement dust, the effects can range from redness to painful chemical burns.

Perlite vs vermiculite

Use perlite or vermiculite?

You may have asked yourself this quite a few times already. Which one of these two do you want to use for you hypertufa project? Which one is better or suits your project best? Find your answer on any question you had on these two materials.

Tired of having to look for every bit of information on the internet? There’s an eBook that can help you! Have every information you can imagine at hand. Buy it here for only $24,95

Perlite vs vermiculite

Perlite and vermiculite have some properties in common but they are also different from each other. Here is a list of properties, advantages and disadvantages of both ingredients.


Perlite is a vulcanic rock that has been heated to high temperatures.The crude rock then expands like popcorn as the water is being vaporized and creates tons of tiny bubbles which make perlite such a lightweight and porous product.

Vermiculite is a natural occuring mineral that also expands greatly after it has been heated to high temperatures. If you are looking to aerate your soil you can add either perlite or vermiculite. They both offer a great deal of air to the roots of the plants which makes them great rooting mediums.


Here is where perlite and vermiculite are different from each other.

Vermiculite is known to act like a sponge. It has a higher water retaining capacity holding moisture near to the plant roots. The good thing about this is that vermiculite prevents all the nutrients from being washed out. It absorbs the nutrients and releases them as required to the plant roots.

Perlite on the other hand allows water to drain more. It is still capable of holding a lot of moisture in its hooks and crevices of it’s pores but it’s porous identity makes it easier for excess water to escape.

Advantages and disadvantages

As each ingredient has its own characteristics, so are they to be used for different purposes.

Vermiculite has a high water retaining capacity. If you need a soil that will retain moisture for example a mushroom substrate, vermiculite is a great additive. In short: if you have very thirsty plants your better off with vermiculite.

Plants that will grow fine without being soaked in water will be happy with a perlite mix. Its hard, porous nature still makes it a great ingredient to increase the humidity. Also it will offer great aeration and drainage for your plants.


Aging your hypertufa

Let moss grow and age your hypertufa 

Your containers, planters, rocks and troughs look great when there’s moss growing on the outside. It gives them an aged look. To get this aged look you will have to let nature do it’s work. The rustic appearance occurs after months or even years. Moss tends to grow best in places that have protection from the sun and are a little damp and moist. Keep those conditions in mind when you decide to place your piece of work outside.

Give nature a hand and encourage moss to grow

The author of The Hypertufa How-To Manual, Claudia F. Brownlie, has provided a basic guideline to improve the process of aging. For more information about the complete manual on how to make your own hypertufa click here.

For a quicker result you should grab a handful of moss and put it in a blender. Don’t worry it will note brake it. Make sure you remove most of the little sticks that you may have picked up. Then add a cup of yoghurt and mix it all up. You take this  mushy substance and place it on your container wherever you like the moss to grow.

Again, keep in mind that it takes quite some time before moss will start growing. Just make sure that the right conditions are present for your project and you will be able to enjoy the natural look of your pots and planters after a while!

Watch this video to see the ultimate result of using hypertufa in your garden! The video is from a Dutch TV program on gardening. It shows a garden made out of hypertufa and the owner talks about how he managed to make all that and what gave him inspiration: the mountains.

Hypertufa recipe and tutorial

Hypertufa recipe for your project

Check out the video below for a free hypertufa recipe tutorial. You know that every hypertufa project requires a different approach. For example, for different projects you are going to need different types of hypertufa molds. As you know from the post about hypertufa molds, a lot of molds will work. To visualize the process from a to z, you can watch the video below which is produced by Backyard Farmer.

Get a detailed description of every hypertufa recipe by buying The Hypertufa How-To Manual It contains thorough explanations of recipes, molds and mixing.

The recipe for the product shown in the video is:

  • 1 part pure Portland cement
  • 1 part peat moss
  • 1 part perlite
  • The amount of water is to be determined when mixing. As shown in the video a little les than 1 part is enough to get a good consistency.

The outcome of this recipe may be a product that is a little bit stronger than others. This is due to the fact that you use equal portions of all three ingredients. There are different ratios for every type of product you make. For instance: you want to make a planter and carve the edges or create a nice pattern on the sides. For this kind of work you will want to use a little bit more peat moss and perlite than Portland cement.

A recipe would then look like this:

  • 1 part pure Portland cement
  • 1,5 parts peat moss
  • 1,5 parts perlite
  • Again, the amount of water is to be decided while mixing.


Now a hypertufa recipe for a product that needs some extra strength. By using sand and especially nylon fybers to your mixture you will add strength to your product.

  • 1,5 parts pure Portland cement
  • 1,5 parts perlite
  • 1 part peat moss
  • 0,5 part sand
  • The amount of nylon fiber mesh totally depends on what size you use for measuring your other ingredients. For example: When using a gallon as “one part” you will need a good handfull of fiber mesh. And when using a cup as “one part” only a few fibers will need to be added.

Drain your hypertufa molds

Drain your hypertufa molds well

Most of the plants that you will put in your troughs will be of the succulent nature. 
Or in plain English: Succulent plants are plants that store water in various places like leaves and stems. This touches on the subject of drainage. Because a lot of plants simply do not like too much moisture. After times of heavy rain your plants will be suffering from the abundance of water. Drainage is therefore very important. If you want to help your plants grow be sure to take note of the following tips:

  • Make sure you drain a few holes on the bottom of your trough. This can easily be done by using a drill with a concrete drill bit on it. Be gentle while drilling through your pot or planter. Don’t try to push it through but let the drill bit do the work for you. When you force it you risk a chance of ruining your whole project right away.
  • Prevent working with a drill by creating drainage holes in your project before the curing process begins. You can use wooden sticks or other circular objects. Make sure you don’t forget to remove them on time otherwise it will not have any effect.
  • Use a good quality potting mix. Make sure it’ has some perlite in it and other ingredients that drain well. It’s important to have the right draining soil for your hypertufa.

All about drainage and watering can be found in the e-book: The How-To Hypertufa Manual. Order now and get instant acces to expert tips and techniques.

Hypertufa molds

Hypertufa molds, they’re everywhere!

Most hypertufa molds are already in the proximity of your house. A wide range of objects can serve as molds. Your only limitation will be your imagination. Things like cardboard boxes, polystyrene foam, plastic containers and plastic planters will do the job. Think of any object and shape that you like and it is probably usable for making a hypertufa mold. Even things like Halloween masks or simple buckets can be taken to mold your hypertufa. Wooden or metal molds can also be used but be sure to drape them with plastic as the hypertufa mixture will stick to the edges when you try to remove them.

If you want to be even more creative, you can! Creating outstanding and eye catching hypertufa art is accessible for all of us. If you don’t know where or how to start there is a very clear and professional explanaition in The Hypertufa How-To Manual on “free-form” molding. It will help you create artistic projects that will amaze not only yourself but everyone else that sees your work.


All you need to know about molds can be found in The Hypertufa How-To Manual. There is so much more information in this cristal clear eBook than you can ever find on the web. Don’t waste your time anymore and buy it now for only $24,95 and get started right away!

What is Hypertufa? (Hypertufa Pots, Planters & Troughs Inspiration)

Hypertufa is art!

Technically speaking though, hypertufa is an artificial substitute for the naturaly formed Tufa rock. Tufa rocks are know for their microbiological component and porous identity. Plants love to grow in tufa planters because water gets stored in all of the little cracks so it is easily accesible in times of dryness. It also takes care of getting fresh air to the roots of the plants. Hypertufa is made by combining Portland cement with Sphagnum (peat moss), perlite or vermiculite and water. Hypertufa is fairly lightweight and resembles the structure of natural tufa so it is ideal for making pots, planters, troughs and other objects to brighten up your garden and give it a very natural look. It is also frost-resistant as opposed to cement which can sometimes crack during cold winters and you will find yourself cleaning up and buying a whole new trough, planter or pot.

Get inspired!

To get an idea of the possibilities with hypertufa, take a look at the gallery here below.

inspiration to put leaf prints on hypertufa planters 

Recipes to make hypertufa

Now, you might be looking for some basic recipes. Well, there’s an app blogpost for that! Check out our blogpost about hypertufa recipes. Take a look at the tutorial and get started with your hupertufa project. The video tutorial will show you: It’s very easy and a lot of fun to do.