Gardener : Plants & troughs : about

Hyper Tufa Troughs

Hyper tufa troughs are durable, winter hardy planters made of a combination of cement, peat moss, and perlite. Those of you who have visited my garden have seen the Tufa Rock Garden, constructed of naturally occurring Tufa, a calcareous rock (limestone based) that looks like a combination of lava and coral. Hyper tufa is made to mimic real tufa and making a troughs is like a combination of sand castles and mud pies. There are many methods and recipes; the one I use is quick, easy, and relatively fail-safe for first timers. Itís also a lot of fun.


Most of the smaller rock garden plants are good choices. Hardy cactus actually do better troughs for all the reasons that plague container plantings: they dry out quicker, drain easily, get hotter, and can be moved to the best environment for the plants. Annuals and house plants, depending on their size relative to the trough, work well, too. Permanent plantings need the same care as any potted plant: repotting, resizing, feeding, and grooming. Pay careful attention to watering if a trough is in full sun and wind. They can dry out quickly and sometimes need to be watered once a day depending on the plant material. Experiment! You can always repot or relocate the trough.

Winter Care

Troughs can be left outside year round. Successful wintering of both container and plants often depends on location. Southern exposures can cause rapid freezing and thawing; excessive water from roofs or gutters is really bad. Sinking your trough in the ground or placing leaves around the sides will help. Turn empty troughs upside down if left outside for the winter. If a trough breaks, try patching it with hydraulic cement before giving up completely.

Common Sense

Troughs are not indestructible. They will break if dropped or knocked with force and sometimes if carried or picked up by one edge. But in general, they are durable containers.

Materials For Making Troughs

Ready to start? See my Directions for Making Hyper Tufa Troughs.