How to Grow Hops
Mark Macdonald | February 12, 2015
Here is all the information you need on how to grow hops. Hops make a dramatic addition to ornamental gardens. Highly decorative, fast growing, trouble free, and cold hardy, hops give a flare and interest to gardens that few other plants do. Ideal for trellises and arbors and as a fast growing perennial hop bines are perfect for creating a privacy screen at the back of the garden. And no, bine is not a typo! A bine is any plant with a stem that twists around something as it grows. Hops are herbaceous perennials. Expect them to die back to the ground in the winter and to leap back to life in the spring.
We Recommend: Cascade Organic (HO100) is a great all purpose variety, and probably the most widely used in the brewing industry.
Season & Zone
Season: Warm season
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Zone: 3 and up
Plant hops rhizomes in early spring, as soon as the ground can be worked. If the weather turns and hard frost threatens after planting, mulch over the planted area with straw, leaves, or even plywood in order to provide some frost protection. If you cannot plant outside immediately, they can be stored slightly damp in the refrigerator for several weeks.
Plant your rhizomes, woody stems from 10cm to 15cm (4” to 6”) in length, as soon as they arrive in the mail. Plant about 10 cm (4”) deep with the buds pointing up with the rhizomes either lying down or pointing up, whichever direction the buds are growing in.
Ideal pH: 6.0-7.0. Be sure to train them to twine around a support when they are about 30cm tall (1’), as hops have been known to reach up to 7.5 meters in a year. Mulch with loose soil as it is important the rhizomes do not dry out while establishing themselves. Hops are heavy feeders that require nitrogen rich amendments. First year growth will be limited while the roots establish themselves but you can expect to harvest some cones in the first year, more in the second and a full harvest in the third.
If you are planting more than one rhizome space about 1m apart (3’); space different varieties 2m (6’) apart. There is little difference in the appearance of hop varieties. It will be much easier when harvesting the cones to grow them some distance from each other. In the second year you can expect several bines to have developed. Cut back the weakest of them, leaving the strongest 2 or 3 to grow out.
Hops are ready for harvest when they become light and papery to the touch and when the leaves of the cones start to turn yellow at the edges. The lupulin powder, that contains the essential oils, turns golden yellow and becomes quite fragrant. Spread the flowers out in a single layer on a screen and air dry for a couple days with a fan blowing across them. They are ready to store in the freezer in an airtight baggy when the cones barely break when bent in half.
In optimum conditions at least 65% of seeds will germinate. Usual seed life: 2 years. Per 100’ row: 400-600 seeds, per acre: 96M -120M seeds.
Diseases & Pests
Watch for slug/snail damage to young seedlings. Keep the area free from debris where these pests like to nest.
Check here for regularly updated tips on how to grow hops using our certified organic hops rhizomes for craft brewing from your organic vegetable garden.
Is Hops an Annual or Perennial and Can You Plant It From Seed?
Hops (Humulus lupulus) grow as 15- to 20-foot-tall perennial vines spreading 3 to 6 feet wide in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8. This vigorous plant develops deep roots and produce green blossoms in autumn. Female plants produce the flowers used in brewing beer. Butterflies enjoy visiting this pine-scented vine during the summer. Even though this plant is commonly reproduced by root cuttings, it can be grown from seeds.
Hops are perennial deciduous plants that die back to the ground each winter and grow again the following spring. This twining vine grows up to 20 feet long each summer. Hop vines are long-lived, producing a harvest for years in the same location. It only takes a couple of plants to fill a backyard garden.
The most common form of propagation for hop is by root cuttings, which produce an exact clone of the mother plant. Hops are heterogeneous plants, which means there are male and female plants. Female plants are the most valuable since they produce the hops for the brewing process. When grown from seeds, the seedlings differ from the parent plants, vary in gender and take longer to produce a harvestable crop. The first year of a hop seedling’s life is spent developing a deep root system. It can take up to two years for a hop seed to produce a harvest.
Hop seeds need cold treatment in order to germinate. Mix the seeds with a couple of handfuls of wet sand. Place the seed mix into a sealable plastic bag and store in the refrigerator for five to six weeks. Afterwards, flatten the bag out and place it in an area out of direct sunlight in a normal temperature room. Check the seeds each day for sprouts. Carefully pick out the seedlings and plant them in individual plant pots filled with potting soil.
The best location for planting hop seedlings is in an area with about 12 hours of direct sunlight in the summer. Enrich the soil with 3 to 6 inches of well-rotted compost and peat moss. Before planting, work 2 to 4 tbsp. of slow-release fertilizer like 10-10-10 into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil. Plant the seedlings in the prepared soil in mid-April. Space the plants 3 to 4 feet apart to ensure proper air circulation.
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Humulus lupulus
- Oregon Hop Commission: Growing Hops – In the Home Garden
- Utah State University Cooperative Extension: Hops in the Garden
Karen Carter spent three years as a technology specialist in the public school system and her writing has appeared in the “Willapa Harbor Herald” and the “Rogue College Byline.” She has an Associate of Arts from Rogue Community College with a certificate in computer information systems.
Is Hops an Annual or Perennial and Can You Plant It From Seed?. Hops (Humulus lupulus) grow as 15- to 20-foot-tall perennial vines spreading 3 to 6 feet wide in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8. This vigorous plant develops deep roots and produce green blossoms in autumn. Female plants …