Thursday, May 23, 2013

Live Oak Circle - Hypertufa Demo

For the last meeting of the 2012-2013 season, Live Oak members got the chance to make hypertufa containers courtesy of new Live Oak member, Stephanie S. (pictured).  
Hypertufa is an anthropic rock made from various aggregates bonded together by Portland cement.  Originally invented for use in alpine gardens, hypertufas can withstand harsh winters as low as −30 °C (−22 °F).  Hypertufas are popular as garden ornaments (pots/planters or various shapes) and are lightweight compared to terracotta or traditional concrete planters.

Live Oak members used small- to medium-sized plastic containers and lined with plastic drop cloths to create their hypertufa.  Hypertufa can be shaped and molded into anything.  Judy, Circle Co-Chair, brought her hypertufa mushroom (pictured) as an example.  Everyone had a great time!  The recipe is listed below if you want to make your own hypertufa.
Interested in participating in events like this?  Come join the Mandarin Garden Club!  For more information, check out our Membership page.

Hypertufa Recipe
7 parts Peat Moss
5 parts Portland Cement
4 parts Vermiculite
3 parts Perlite
6 parts Water
Dust mask
Rubber gloves
Mixing tub
Measuring cups
Inexpensive plastic drop cloth
Measure, then mix dry ingredients thoroughly.  Make sure to wear a dust mask  and wear gloves during this part of process.  Add water and mix thoroughly again.  Consistency should be something like brownie mix.  Cake mix consistency is too runny; bread dough too stiff.

After mixing, do not add large amounts of water.  It may inhibit the cement from setting.

Line your mold with the plastic drop cloth.  After molding the hypertufa, leave it molded for 24 hours (longer in cold/cloudy weather or for large molds).  Gently work to remove the hypertufa from the mold.

After removing from the mold, your piece will be soft.  Don't handle it a lot, rather place it a quiet spot and you will see it start to harden and cure.  It is not completely cured for 90 days but you may plant in it after a week or so.  You will need to drill a drain hole with a masonry bit before or after drying.

Note:  After molding your hypertufa, you may "drill" a hole using a pencil while it is still soft and has not harden or set.