Hops are a traditional perennial climber grown through the years, not just for the keen home brewer. With the increase in use of our outdoor spaces a pergola with hops trailing is looking more and more inviting.
You will need plenty of upward, vertical growing space for hops. Alongside this the position will need to have between 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. From planting to flowering will need at least 120 days of exposure to sun, but they are a great perennial when overwintered correctly.
We are looking here at growing a dwarf variety as the 25 feet of bines each rhizome produces is a little excessive for most homes. We are also giving guidance for growing the larger variety that will give you a good harvest of cones.
Step-By-Step Guide To Growing Hops
- You can buy plants online and you really will struggle to buy them in your local nursery. A set of 6 x Humulus Lupulus ‘Target’ – Golden hop – Pot 9 cm x9 cm can be purchased as a smaller, more compact plant growing to between 400-800cm. Or you can buy Hops- Humulus lupulus seeds via this link. It is easier to grow from existing plants as they have the rhizomes that will prove to be more sturdy when planted outside. Very few gardeners propagate from cuttings and this can be tricky and ill advised. For a real specialist in hop growing, and truly for those hoping to brew their own beer have a look at EssentiallyHops.
- You really will need to plan ahead and prepare a bed where there is sunlight for between 6-8 hours a day. The bed will need to be nutrient rich and with good drainage. Slightly acidic is preferred. Dig through plenty of well rotted manure.
- If you are growing from rhizomes you will need to wait for the fear of frost to pass. Dig trenches of 3 inches in depth, plant each rhizome around 1 foot apart. Lightly cover with soil and water well. We would recommend covering with a mulch or straw to reduce water logged soil. The need to weed is greatly reduced with your hops if you mulch. There is also anecdotal evidence to suggest that digging in some Epsom salts will hep with nitrogen absorption. This is a cheap way to give a little boost to your plants.
- If you are buying dwarf hops, prepare the bed by digging well rotted manure through. Water in well and follow as if you had grown from rhizomes below.
- As it takes around 120 days for hops to flower you will need to water well in the first few weeks if the days are dry. Watering can be intense during the hotter weeks of Summer as you may need to move to a twice daily routine. Brewers Friend Have some great ideas for trellis’s for your hops to check out here.
- Take the healthiest and thickest bines to start to train up your trellis. You can prick out the weaker ones. Hops will thrive hen they are not overcrowded.
- Hops will struggle if they are overwhelmed with weeds and pests. The best way to avoid this is to maintain good housekeeping. Once the bine is tall enough, remove the bottom few feet of leaves and clear of weeds regularly. Keep the base of the plant moist.
- Harvest the cones in late September and the bines will be ready to throw on the compost. The cones of your hops should feel papery to the touch and be light in color before you harvest. When you squidge them they release this yellow-gold powder that is a real pain to remove from clothes. The smell will be like walking into a brewery as well. It is called lupulin powder.
- Once you have cut the bines down to the crown you can heavily mulch with a nitrogen rich organic material. Even the dwarf hops prefer to be left dormant in the Winter months and will come back stronger the following Spring.
Glossary Of Terms For Growing Hops
- Bines grow from rhizomes and can be around 25 feet in height. They are what we may refer to as vines in other climbing plants. Each of the crowns of he hops can easily shoot new bines.
- Cones are the dried flowers that you will be able to harvest for home brewing. Hops grow flowers after around 120 days of sprouting up in Spring, but the cones are ready to harvest in later September when their texture has become paper like.
- Lupulin powder is what is then used in brewing beer. It is the essential oils and resin compounds that make the aroma and flavor of beer.
- Rhizomes are the tuber that forms a crown to then shoot the bines from. Propagating from the rhizomes is possible by snapping them into 5-6 inch sections.
Where To Buy Hops In The UK
You can visit online specialist stores like Nature Escape or from the fantastic Essentially Hops who have over 42 varieties of hops. Just be very aware that growing your favorite flavor hops on your land will not result in the exact same brew!
We grow hops to help make herbal remedies, so it is not all about the beer! By mixing with dried Lavender you can make the most relaxing sleep bags in the world!
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