Hypertufa: What it is and how to use it to make a planter

Brierly explains hypertufa in Buffalo NYBack in the 1930s, it was found that some Alpine plants grew well in tufa, a porous rock formed when water seeps through limestone. Tufa was scarce and expensive, so a few gardeners worked to find an inexpensive and accessible alternative.

The product they came up with is called hypertufa. Hypertufa is similar to concrete, but lighter and more porous. You can use it to make planters in whatever size or shape you need.

Anne Brierley of the Parkside area of Buffalo is great fun as she takes us through the steps of this messy but fun gardening craft.

In the video below, Brierley gives us a hypertufa demonstration in her basement studio. She has a small business called Steps and Stones where she makes hypertufa pots and garden decorations. (She has no website, but you can find her in the phone book.)

For more on this subject, Brierley suggests the book Creating and Planting Troughs by Joyce Fingerut and Rex Murfitt.

Brierley had so much great information that we couldn’t squeeze it all into one video. In our next issue on Jan. 22, we’ll have another short video with more of her tips. See you next year!

23 Comments on “Hypertufa: What it is and how to use it to make a planter

  1. Wow! I really enjoyed the how-to of this video!

    I wish she was my mom! She is amazing!

    Thank you. 🙂

  2. Thanks so much for posting the video. I just LOVE your personality. Although I have also been making hypertufa pots for a while, I did learn some things from you. Namely, lining the mixing container with plastic and your recipe is slightly different than mine. I also appreciated the mention (in another video) about the Quickcrete concrete hardener. I hope this message finds you well and still making your art projects.

  3. I asked Anne Brierley and she said she doesn’t do anything to leach the alkalinity out of her pots. However, some plants may not tolerate the alkalinity that is in the concrete. If you’re concerned, there are three things you can try, she said. The first is to wash your finished piece with vinegar. The second is to set your piece outside and hose it down every so often over a period of a couple week. The third is to coat the inside of your piece with Thompson’s water seal. I hope that helps.

  4. Keep reading that you have to leach the lime out of the cement before planting. It seems to take FOREVER, too! What are your thoughts??

  5. Anne Brierley says: To color your hypertufa, you can add cement color, which comes in a bottle, to the mix. Or you could paint the outside with acrylic paint once your piece is dry. Or you can experiment by adding a few cups of acrylic paint (instead of some the water) to the mix. I know of a gentleman who added acrylic paint to the mix. It might not be as durable, but you can try it. I’m not sure what you mean by acrylic shavings– just shavings of acrylic material? I don’t see why you couldn’t add acrylic shavings. Try it. It’s an experiment!

  6. I have the pleasure of Anne’s company as a neighbor vendor at two art shows. I love her work and it appears all around my home. Her creativity is only exceeded by her warm, friendly, and energetic personality. Her work flies off the tables as old and new customers alike can not walk away without one of her wonderful creations. They are beautiful, natural, and whimsical. My favorite this year is my little hypertufa hedge hog who is now nestled alongside my fireplace. Someday I may undertake the task of making my own hypertufa planters, but for now I am so grateful that I can own truely wonderful pieces of hypertufa art that Anne creates. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

    Deborah Florian VasePlace.etsy.com

  7. Yes, Anne Brierley said she sometimes paints her creations with concrete stain or patio paints. She dilutes the paints so the color isn’t too strong or harsh. Thanks so much for the question!

  8. Oh, I am so sorry that I misspelled her name! I have now corrected it. Thanks so much for letting me know. She is so much fun!

  9. Very interesting and seems easy enough. Can you leave it outside to dry if it is summertime? Can it stay outside all winter?

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