Hypertufa Pinguicula pots

Smilodonichthys

Carnivorous Plant Addict
I have been growing Pinguicula in terra-cotta pots and have liked the porous nature and aesthetics of them. The main issue I have is that I can't find them in a square shape and ideal size to fit efficiently in my trays. Making my own hypertufa pots seems like a good way to get all the benefits of the terra-cotta while having an ideal size and in my opinion looking more natural. Another thing they have going for them is they are less expensive than terra-cotta and likely even plastic.

I'll share how I make them here in the hopes that others might be interested in experimenting with hypertufa or at least seeing how it works out for me. I really don't know how these will work long term. If anyone can forsee any problems or offer advice, please do!

Note that due to the alkalinity of hypertufa this may only be suitable for a limited number of carnivorous plant species. I have found that all of the cold temperate and Mexican Pinguicula I have grown don't seem to suffer from higher pH/mineral-rich conditions and often seem to prefer it. Even those that grow in low pH/mineral conditions in nature.

Here is one of my Ping shelves as it is now with terra-cotta. Not a great use of space. I will update in a few months once the plants are in hypertufa pots. It will take months before the pots cure and leach:
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The hypertufa mix I have been using is:
-1 part peat (all the chunky bits and sticks etc. removed)
-1 part perlite
-1.5 parts Portland cement
-Around 1.5 parts water. The water is added sparingly until the consistency is wet enough that it can be molded into shape without crumbling or being too liquid. The amount needed seems to vary per batch. The final cured pot is stronger when the mix is on the drier side.

For the forms I use a square plastic 3.5" pot for the inner and a 4" plastic pot for the outer. I do around 15 at a time. The drain hole form is a cut off piece of PVC pipe. After spraying cooking spray (butter flavour is best but was not in stock;)) I mold the hypertufa mix onto the bottom and sides of the larger pot and then press the smaller pot into the center until it hits the PVC pipe.

After 24 hours wrapped in a plastic bag to cure slightly I remove the forms and use a wire brush to add some texture to the pots. They are still brittle when not fully cured so care is needed so as not to break them.

After that they are placed in a large bucket of water to fully cure for at least a month. I will keep them in the bucket for at least another month and change the water frequently to leach some of the alkalinity.

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Here is one of the first batch I made a few months ago. I made them thicker because I wanted to be sure they would be strong enough.
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Turns out they are strong enough to stand on.
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I'm much happier with this latest thinner batch. I'm confident they will be a good mix of strong and light with lots of room for plants.
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The thinner ones look very nice. Love your PVC pipe idea.
Your recipe surprised me. Usually it’s 3:1 filler:concrete mix and yours is 2:1.5? Not criticizing, just curious. I was making hypertufa pots a while back using 1peat:1perlite:1send:1cement mix and pots are still fine after almost 15 years outside mostly with succulents.
 

Smilodonichthys

Carnivorous Plant Addict
The thinner ones look very nice. Love your PVC pipe idea.
Your recipe surprised me. Usually it’s 3:1 filler:concrete mix and yours is 2:1.5? Not criticizing, just curious. I was making hypertufa pots a while back using 1peat:1perlite:1send:1cement mix and pots are still fine after almost 15 years outside mostly with succulents.
Interesting. I usually think of the classic hypertufa mix as 1peat:1perlite1:cement mix. I have heard some people use sand but it has the disadvantage of adding weight to larger troughs/pots so is usually avoided.

I decided to stray from the classic hypertufa mix on these thinner pots so that they would be less crumbly and more ductile during the wire brushing stage and so that when finished there would be less chance for the peat and perlite to be concentrated in a way that would weaken or create larger holes.

Because weight isn't as big an issue as it would be with larger pots I just added more cement. The thought of adding sand crossed my mind but I figured they would be fine with a more cement heavy mix. Time will tell.
 

Smilodonichthys

Carnivorous Plant Addict
My friend was giving aquarium water to his Pinguicula and they where huge lol, his water was around 300ppm TDS when I measured it, so they enjoy minerals.…for Pinguicula I guess that are found in rocks etc
Pinguicula really do seem to grow well with soil nutrients. I stay away from soil fertilization to keep the moss from taking over. Otherwise I'd give that a try. For a short time I added worm castings and it grew some healthy looking pings fast. Slow growth under bright light is working well enough for me these days.
 

Smilodonichthys

Carnivorous Plant Addict
The TDS is only useful for CP's if you know the composition. Aquarium water could have a high TDS from nitrates and act as fertilizer for the plants. And Pings may like calcium (as in gypsum) which could be high in tap water. Not sure if non-Mexican pings would like high calcium or magnesium in tap water.
So true about the TDS composition. Even then there are species like Drosera anglica and Drosera linearis that grow in environments high in calcium and magnesium. Not to mention Darlingtonia that grows in ultramafic seeps high in all sorts of heavy metals that'd kill most plants.

Here's an interesting paper I read recently about elements that concentrate in peat bogs: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320169100_CHEMICAL_SPECIATION_OF_HEAVY_METALS_IN_PEAT_BOG_KOKCHETAV_MOUNTAIN_GROUP_NORTH_KAZAKHSTAN

I'm not sure about how much calcium and magnesium matter with most non-Mexican Pinguicula. So many of the species grow in both ombrotrophic and minerotrophic environments that it doesn't seem like it does. For example I have seen Pinguicula macroceras growing in both peat bogs and directly out of the tufa formed from mineral rich springs.

I wonder though if the species in sect. Isoloba would tolerate Ma/Ca.
 
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