I do like a mooch around a garden centre in the sunshine, checking out all of latest plants and wondering if I can squeeze just one more in! One of my favourite types of plants are succulents. I love their neat, geometric shapes, cool colours and how they quietly spread to fill out a space. They look their best in a low planter on a patio or terrace. I particularly like concrete ones which are on trend at the moment, so I thought I'd have a go at making my own.
I've had a play at making cement pots before but in order for them to be light enough and not so susceptible to frost you need to mix the cement with other ingredients to make 'hypertufa'. This is a lightweight, course cement mix which will give you a textured 'organic' finish. If you fancy having a go too, here's how...
Firstly you will need to make a two part mould so have a think about what shape and size you would like your planter to be and keep an eye out for containers. You can use old yoghurt pots, washing up bowls or as I have done, two card board boxes. Cardboard is good as you can rip it off once the cement is dry. Plastic may need cutting off so bear that in mind when choosing. Do remember that concrete will take on any patterns or lumps and bumps within the moulds. You could use this as part of your design?!
You will need:
A double mould. One large container, one smaller to fit inside.
Perlite (buy from your local DIY store or garden centre)
Bowl or bucket
A trowel or spoon to mix
Prepare the containers you are using for moulds. If you are using a box, cut off any extra flaps that may get in the way. If using plastic mould, spray them with cooking spray or rub with oil as this will help to release the moulds once the cement is dry.
To make the hypertufa, take a large bucket or bowl and mix equal parts cement, perlite and compost with roughly the same amount of water. Always use gloves as cement is an irritant. You are looking for the consistency of lumpy cottage cheese! (To make enough hypertufa for this planter I used four parts of each)
Carefully layer the hypertufa mixture over the base of the larger container. Fill up to the level of the tubes you put in for the drainage holes. Once level, centre the inner container on top and then carefully fill in around the edges. Press down firmly but without distorting the boxes.
Place your planter somewhere it can dry out slowly. The moulds can be removed after a day or so once the cement has 'gone off' but your planter could take up to two weeks to dry out completely depending on the size and how wet your mixture was. If you're leaving it outside, make sure it is covered. When it is dry it will be a lighter grey colour.
When dry, carefully remove the inner and outer moulds to reveal your finished planter. If you have used card this can just be ripped off. Remove the tubes you added for drainage holes too but they can be left in if they don't come out as the cardboard will gradually deteriorate.
Get yourself down to the garden centre and choose a few succulents to grow in your planter! Succulents do spread so you don't need too many. Always make sure you add plenty of drainage at the base of the planter as succulents don't like sitting in water. You can even mix some of the spare perlite in with the soil as this will make ideal growing conditions.
Place your planter where you can admire it and don't forget to water your new babies!
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