How about a whole new look for a homemade planter?
Try some draped hypertufa pots. These are cement pots or cement fabric pots made from the same mixture as we make hypertufa, but we make it with extra Portland cement. Since it is being made from a piece of leftover fabric, and will not have 1-2 inch sides as its structure, it needs a strong mix of the Portland cement to be sure it is sturdy.
It is heavier on the Portland cement, and incredibly messy to make, but I am already planning to make more. I have seen some photos on the internet, but nothing with complete directions on how to do it, so I have winged it!
You can use any draping fabric you have lying around. It can be an old towel, a blanket, leftover drapery material, an old light quilt or bedspread.
Best fabric: It seems to be a piece of OLD TOWEL OR A FLEECE BLANKET.
A textured fabric is better, hence the fleece blankets, old towels, etc. It seems to me that the more absorbent the fabric is, the better results you will have. The fabric needs to absorb the cement to be successfully strong and dampening the fabric prior to placing it in the slurry seems to be the best procedure.
You can drill holes in the draped hypertufa pots very easily with a drill after it is cured. Use a masonry bit.
Recipe on this one is heavy on the cement. I would use:
- 1 part Portland cement (I was using a 2 qt pitcher)
- 1/4 part of peat ( about 1 pint)
- a handful of vermiculite and mortar mix depending on how much you want it to be textured
- water, about a 2 qt pitcher as above added slowly as you get it into a slurry or gravy
If you have any problems locating the vermiculite or perlite, here is a source.
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Cut the draping fabric into a circle or oval, or even use it as a rectangle or square for pointy tips. To see how it might appear when finished, dampen your fabric piece and hang it from your “tower.” Your “tower” is the structure that you will use as a form to hang and dry the cement-soaked fabric. It will be HEAVY, so the tower needs to be strong. Cover it with a plastic piece so your fabric won’t stick to it.
My largest draped hypertufa pots were made over a bar stool. It stays on this support while it dries and will take on that shape and its draping will depend on how it “hangs” from the support tower. Your support tower must be sturdy and allow the fabric to “drape” because it is this draping that makes the final outcome of the piece. Be sure to cover your tower in plastic! The piece is slightly pliable when you attempt to remove it from the tower after it has cured/hardened, but it was a struggle with that bar stool.
Again, before you actually soak your fabric in the cement slurry, check out how it hangs or “drapes” by wetting the fabric and placing it on the tower you have chosen to use. Pull it to one side or the other until you have a vision of what you’d like to see in the draped shape of your cement pot or finished piece.
The draped hypertufa pots featured here were made from an oval cut about 26″ by 39″. ( I had earlier made it bigger, but decided I just couldn’t handle fabric cut that big when it was dipped in the slurry. It was a good decision, because that sucker is HEAVY after soaking it in cement gravy.) Once your slurry is all mixed, and you have a consistency like meat gravy, if you have any doubt that your mix won’t be strong enough, put in a little extra Portland cement.
When you are ready, soak the dampened draping fabric in your slurry mix and roll it around until it is completely soaked with cement slurry. Wear gloves of course. I had to dip the mix up and smoosh it into the fabric on both sides, being sure to get it into folds. Did I lie when I said it was MESSY?
Be sure to mix up enough slurry to get it all wet. Depending on the size of your fabric piece, you may need to double the recipe. If you have leftovers, have a few small cloths ready to drape over a butter dish or bowl, or just pour it into those dishes to make feet for a trough. When you are draping it over your tower, it is easy to pull and adjust until you get the look that pleases you.
Curing the Draped Hypertufa Pot
I left my creation for 2 nights in a cold garage, with a large garbage bag pulled over it. After two days, I pulled the piece off the bar stool tower support with difficulty. It is slightly pliable at this point, but did harden after the next step. I put it back on the bar stool and again put the garbage bag over it and left it for another 24 hours in the garage.
This draped hypertufa pot pictured on this page (with black background) is roughly the size of a laundry basket and it was draped over a stool. The draped hypertufa pot pictured with the blue background is draped over a paint can. ( I stacked three paint cans.)
“Need Extra Strength? Or Not Hard Enough?”
When your cement pot is piece completed, test it by feeling if it is very hard. If does not seem hard enough to you, mix up another small amount of the slurry, maybe with an additional handful of Portland cement, and again coat the outside of the piece while it remains supported by your tower. I used a large paint brush, but if you use a thin slurry, it can be poured and allowed to drip and run. Re-dry or cure and test it again for hardness.
Try this draped hypertufa pot or cement planter and let me know how yours turns out. I am really pleased with mine. I want to make a smaller-bottomed one, and taller. I envision a tall vase-shaped one in the corner where the deck meets the patio. Maybe with a large Persian shield ( Strobilanthes) and wave petunias or calibrachoa? Or maybe I need two?
What would you plant in it? Please let me know. Give me some ideas!
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Hi, I am Kim and thank you so much for visiting my magazine! I am a gardener and a hypertufa maker. If you came here to learn about hypertufa, I have a lot of information. But I also write about flower gardening and using succulents which are great drought-tolerant plants.