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 Hybridtufa: Adventures with Hypertufa and Papercrete


What are hypertufa and papercrete?
and just exactly what is hybridtufa?


The reason that hypertufa troughs have been popular with gardeners worldwide for so long, is because they make the ideal container, both from they way they look and from a plants health (growing conditions).

Hypertufa troughs are not "just another container" to stick plants in.  Given time, moss and lichens will begin to grow on hybridtufa containers. The troughs themselves actually become an integral part of the overall garden.  

From the plants perspective, the insulative qualities and porosity of hypertufa create an ideal growing environment. Extreme soil temperature fluctuations are avoided and ideal drainage and oxygen exchange are maintained making it perfect for hard-to-grow plants. Plant collectors worldwide use hypertufa to grow exotic plants that could not normally be grown in their regions.

The simple definition is that they are amazing building materials that anybody can make and use at home with no special equipment or tools. 

Now, this doesn't tell you exactly what hypertufa, papercrete and hybridtufa really are, so here is the actual definition and description for each of these amazing building materials.

Hypertufa- Cementitious mix made from peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, and cement. There are probably as many recipes for hypertufa as there are for fruitcake (coincidentally, they are both considered inedible).

Papercrete - Cementitious mix made from paper pulp, sand, gravel, and cement. Basically, papercrete is the same thing as hypertufa but using paper pulp, sand and gravel instead of the peatmoss, perlite and vermiculite commonly used in hypertufa.

Hybridtufa - Cementitious mix made from organic aggregate and a cement binding agent. To put it in context; hypertufa is a type of hybridtufa, but not all hybridtufa is hypertufa.  (Example: A typical hypertufa recipe calls for 2 parts peatmoss, one part perlite, one part cement, now let's say that you modify that recipe to  1 part peatmoss, 1 part papercrete, one part perlite and one part cement.  Now, you can't really call that hypertufa because it is a hybrid of hypertufa and papercrete - call it hybridtufa).


All the ingredients that you will need to make a hybridtufa mix are readily available through your local building supply store or garden center. Some of these items you may already have around the house.

(Cloclwise from top left: cement, cement coloring, charcoal, fiberplast, paper pulp, gravel, sand, perlite, peatmoss)



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