How to Care for Hops Plants

Overview

Hops were one of the earliest crops in America. Settlers began growing hops in the Americas in 1629, according to the University of Vermont. Many home brewers now grow their own hops, either for their own use or the marketplace. A hardy perennial vine that enjoys a moderate climate, the hops plant grows off a root system known as a rhizome. One hops plant will grow 25 feet tall and weigh 20 or more pounds.

Step 1

Select a sunny location that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. A south-facing location is ideal. The planting site needs ample room for a large trellis to support the mature hops plant.

Step 2

Add abundant aged manure to the soil. The soil should feel crumbly to the touch. The planting site must be well-draining because the hop plant will not tolerate standing water around its root system. A soil pH of 6.5 to 8.0 is preferred.

Step 3

Plant hops rhizomes 4 inches deep in a 1-foot-high mound of soil in the spring. Plant the roots of the rhizome facing downwards. Plant rhizomes 3 to 5 feet apart, depending on the variety.

Step 4

Mulch around the hops plant with 2 to 3 inches of mulch. Use peat moss, bark chips or straw.

Step 5

Erect a large, sturdy trellis next to the hops. Many people use a strong fence line as a trellis or poles with rope woven between them.

Step 6

Choose the largest stems from the plant to begin training on the trellis. The stems always grows in a clockwise direction. Attach the hop stems by weaving them into the trellis or attach them with a light cotton string. Over the course of approximately a week the hop plant learns to climb the trellis on its own. Only allow the strongest and healthiest shoots to climb the trellis. Prune the weak shoots off at ground level.

Step 7

Water the hops plant regularly. The plant should never be allowed to completely dry out. In warm climates, daily watering might be required as the plant is a heavy drinker. Use a drip-irrigation watering system or a soaker hose so the foliage of the hop plant does not become wet. Wet foliage can cause powdery mildew.

Step 8

Fertilize three times from March to July using nitrogen. Apply 3 pounds for every 1,000 square feet of garden space.

Tips and Warnings

  • Aphids are a common problem on a hops plant. Purchase ladybugs from a garden supply store to release on the plant as a natural insecticide.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Trellis
  • Poles
  • Cotton rope
  • Nitrogen
  • Mulch
  • Aged manure

References

  • Oregon Hops Commision: Growing Hops in the Home Garden
  • University of Vermont: Growing Hops in New England
  • Brewing Techniques: Growing Hops in the Backyard

Who Can Help

  • Oregon Hops Commission
Keywords: growing hops, planting hops, caring for hops

About this Author

Kimberly Sharpe is a freelance writer with a diverse background. She has worked as a Web writer for the past four years. She writes extensively for Associated Content where she is both a featured home improvement contributor (with special emphasis on gardening) and a parenting contributor. She also writes for Helium. She has worked professionally in the animal care and gardening fields.