Leaching Your New Hypertufa Pot - The Fast Way

Leaching Your New Hypertufa Pot

Get your hypertufa pot ready for planting?

Once you have waited for your hypertufa pot to cure, (and it seems to take forever when you are waiting), then you have to wait for the alkalinity to be leached from the pot.  More waiting? I am too impatient for that!

How about we speed up the process?  I will tell you how I do it and show you how.

(This is an update to an old post from the past. I wanted to show you how well the plants behaved even when we speed up the leaching process. My opinion is that you don’t have to wait for such long periods of time to plant your hypertufa pots. In my case, this was a large landscape hypertufa planter, and I will show you how well the plants did.)

Leaching My New Hypertufa Pot - Fast

“Leaching means: ”

1. to dissolve out soluble constituents from (ashes, soil, etc.) by percolation.

2. to cause (water or other liquid) to percolate through something

Due to the alkalinity of Portland cement, it is necessary to leach your new pot to make an environment acceptable for your  plants .  Most gardeners feel that the planter needs to be “neutralized”  for your plants to grow their best.

Many hypertufa makers feel that leaching your new hypertufa pot needs to be done over a prolonged period of time, such as a few months or even over the winter.  I don’t feel this is necessary

…..and I have never had a plant give me problems relating to alkalinity.

image of new rectangle hypertufa pot ready to leach

In fact, many plants prefer a slightly alkaline environment!

Yes, that is true.  Check out this list of some of those plants.

  • Woolley Thyme
  • Soapwort
  • Sweet William
  • Saxifrages
  • Oregano
  • Pasque Flower
  • Hens and chicks…yep!
  • Pinks and Alpine Pinks (dianthus)
  • Dwarf Baby’s Breath
  • Candytuft

I advise leaching your hypertufa pots by: Hosing down 3-4 times a day for about 5 days, while intermittently misting with a weak dilution of vinegar and water and rinsing with a garden hose. Then they will be ready to plant.

Spritzing with vinegar helps to leach new hypertufa

For smaller pieces, you can immerse them underwater in a tub, draining & refilling 3 to 4 times over a week long period. Use a mild solution of vinegar in that soak, and use an amount of vinegar in whatever size tub you are using to get a mild vinegar dilution.

Here’s a short video of the process where I just fill and dump.

Leaching the Alkalinity from Your New Hypertufa Planter

Do you have any solutions for leaching? Have you had any experience which makes you think that it cannot be done quickly as opposed to waiting all season? 

Leaching New Hypertufa Planter

Here is that large hypertufa planter I made. It was leached and planted quickly. Do you see any problems with how these plants grew?

It was first planted in June/July and these photos go to Oct/Nov when I covered them with netting to protect them from squirrels and chipmunks. They grew like gangbusters! I think they did awesome! Watch!

Let me know if this quick leaching has worked for you. I am just too impatient and I want to get things planted up and on to the next design.

What about you?  Do you have any experience where you felt that your pot’s alkalinity caused a problem? I am always so anxious to plant that I get that done as soon as the leaching process is done.

Now go make some hypertufa planters!


  1. Has anyone tried lime to make hypertufa more workable and sticky? Back in the 60s and 70s my dad installed bathroom ceramic tile the old way. We nailed up metal lathe and the first code of mud was called a scratch coat. I was amazed at how well it stuck to vertical surfaces. He said the lime made it more sticky and workable with less water. I have tried forming inside and outside of the mold and like outside much better. Some of my sides are near vertical and 9/8 inch thick so I thought I would see if lime would help it stack up better. Maybe I should do it in two passes with a scratch coat and a float coat.

  2. I needed to use my pots right away and wondered about the alkalinity problem. So I dusted the inside of my pots with sulfur. That was 2 years ago and tomatoes have been growing fine.

  3. How do you decide when and why to use perlite vs vermiculite? Advantages vs disadvantages?

  4. Hi I haven’t made any pots or troughs yet but this is the year I am trying it out. I want to make a gazing ball for my friend. Her favourite color is Lime green where do I get this color or do that or do I just mix and match like I do with my paintings

    1. You might want to plan on painting it after curing to get a great lime green. Currently I don’t know of cement color that could get you that shade. But it could be out there!

    2. I learned from a man who did concrete floors in bathrooms that you can mix latex paint with the water to add color to the mix…need to use basic colors to offset the gray cement

  5. How did you get your hypertufa to be brown? Mine is always gray

  6. I am going to make my first planter today , thank you for the great tips and time saving methods Wish me Luck ! Kim

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hello, I’m very new to hypertufa but am planning to use it to make the body of a Mud Lady which has been created in wire mesh and is a little larger than lifesize. I have the ingredients and plan to sieve the peat using a small holed mesh. How long would you recommend the covers being left on for. It will be exposed to sun as it’s too big to move. Any recommendations will be appreciated. Thanks.

    1. Wow, congrats on such a big project. Sounds like it will be wonderful. For such a large project, I would place a tarp-like covering over it and secure edges with a stone or brick. Basically creating a tent for the curing process. I think it may take longer for a cure, so give it 3 days or so before you uncover. Then carve/adjust/trim whatever and cover again for a couple weeks. Can’t wait to see it! Come post on the Facebook group so we can all follow your progress!

  8. I’m gradually loosing my ability to walk, so while I still can. I’m building a raised bed garden along my driveway. The panel trellis span the concrete to support overhead vines. The raised beds will be hypertufa troughs. By leaching them I’ll be able to plant sooner.

    1. Sounds like a great plan. Raised beds are so much easier to work with.

  9. Hello
    Thank you for your informative article! Please can you clarify your process a little further for me (am new to cement pot making).

    Do I understand correctly:
    * Fill pot with water / vinegar mixture for a couple of hours each day.
    * Drain water / vinegar mix & let it stand “dry” overnight
    * Next day, repeat liquid mixture fill for a couple of hours, drain, let stand
    * Repeat process for up to 7 days

    1. That sounds right. You can leave water/vinegar mix in trough if you like and then next day drain it all and start again with new mix. It doesn’t have to “dry” overnight. But it will still leaching if you do let it dry. If you are anxious to pot it up, it doesn’t have to go for more than 3-4 days. Just rinse really well when you are ready to pot up your plants. Thank you so much for reading my post. I appreciate your comment so much.

  10. I was unaware that hypertufa had to be leached so I did not treat the planters I made; however, the succulents I put in them did not seem to suffer, or if they did it wasn’t noticeable to me. I also attempted to use hypertufa to make large ornamental garden rocks. When my husband said they looked like elephant turds I gave up that project.

    1. That is great that your plants survived. You did a great job anyway. That is too funny about the elephant turds. LOL

      1. Hi! New to this process and confused as to WHEN should I start leaching the pot. How many days from when I first made them? I made them on Wednesday, unmolded on Thursday, and have them wrapped in plastic.

        1. I would leave them wrapped in plastic in the shade for a week or 10 days. After that, start the leaching process. Many people feel that they should be left wrapped for a month or more, but I haven’t had any bad experience with doing it sooner. Congrats on your hypertufa and have fun planting them up!

    2. Sherri westfall says:

      Too too funny! He must be friends with my husband!

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