These rapidly growing, coarse-textured vines provide dense cover for a trellis or for any unsightly feature in the garden in summer. Hop is a good selection for gardens that experience drought, hot temperatures and wind.
Japanese hop (H. japonicus)
This annual hop is a vigorous climber, growing 20 to 35 feet in a single season. The 6 to 8 inch wide leaves are rough-textured and bright green. Female plants produce papery, conelike flowers. This is the variety most often used as an ornamental. Once established, the plant reseeds itself.
Common Hop (H. lupulus)
This perennial hop is grown for the fruit used in brewing beer and for medicinal use. The vines climb to 20 feet, and the plant is hardy in Zones 3-10. The cultivar 'Aurea', with golden foliage, is especially popular.
Hops grow well in full sun or partial shade, and though it tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, it prefers a moist, humus-rich, light loam that is well drained. Keep the plants well-watered during hot weather.
Start Japanese hop from seed sown directly outdoors. Space the seed about 18 inches apart at the base of a support. Once established, the plants will reseed themselves.
Propagate common hop by root division or from cuttings of new growth taken in the spring, preferably from female rootstock. Plants die down in winter, but fast-growing shoots appear again in spring. Protect the roots with a mulch over the winter months.
Harvest the flowers in autumn, when tinged with yellow.
Avoid the use of hop if depression or impotence is a problem. A tincture or infusion prepared from the flowers of common hop is used to treat insomnia and headaches, and may also improve digestion. A pillow stuffed with dried flowers is believed to induce restful sleep.
Use the flowers in a bath for a calming effect. Dried flowers are used in decorative arrangements. Common hop is used in beermaking.