Ah, hypertufa - the seems-too-good-to-be-true, homemade, rock substitute that has had several enthusiastic revivals since it’s introduction in the 1800s. “Revivals” makes me wonder if it literally doesn’t have any staying power.
For those of you who may not know, hypertufa is a manufactured rock, made from cement, peat moss, and (usually) perlite. There are many different recipes, but a general formula is one part, by volume, of cement, to two or three parts, by volume, of aggregate /filler, mixed with water and then formed into or on a mold.
The mystery of hypertufa has intrigued me for a few years. Proponents quite often use the same physical properties to enforce two different sides of an argument: It’s porous so the roots stay cooler because moisture is held within the thick walls of the planter, versus, It’s porous so it drains quickly and is good for plants that prefer a dry, hot environment. My personal favorites: They can stay outside in freezing weather without cracking if you raise them off the ground on boards, versus, They can stay outside in freezing weather without cracking as long as they stay in contact with the ground.
After a year of some of the most fruitless research ever, I’ve decided to just give it a try. If I end up with anything other than a pile of self-created rubble, I’ll post the details. :)
If you’ve made hypertufa troughs, pots, edging, benches, or anything else, let me know; I’d love to hear your tales of ‘tufa.