Growing Hops In The Garden – The hop is a hardy, perennial plant that is easily grown at home. The hop (humulus lupulus) is a good plant to grow in a container provided that a wall can offer it some support. A vigorous perennial climber, it will cover a trellis in summer or grow over a pergola. The leaves are most attractive and the variety ‘Aureus’ with its golden leaves is the one most commonly grown.
It is best to buy female plants rather than attempt to grow hops from seed as technically they are dioecious which means that the male and female plants are separate.
Where to plant? Select an area with plenty of sun. Hops need at least 6-8 hours of sun a day, so the south facing side of your home or an exposed site is a good location. Hop vines also need a strong support system to grow successfully; tall poles and strong twine are commonly used to support the growing vines.
Hops should be planted in the spring, late enough to avoid a frost. Fertilize liberally before planting – the soil needs fertilizers rich in potassium, phosphates, and nitrogen. Plant your hops in a mound and aerate the ground by turning it over several times to aid drainage, enhance growth and prevent disease.
Like any young plant, too much water may cause more harm than good. During their first year, young hops have a minimal root system and require frequent short waterings. Don’t expect much growth or many flowers during the first year because the plant is establishing its root system. Instead, look forward to the second year when hops are full grown and produce healthy crops of fragrant flowers.
When the hop vines are about 1 ft long, select two or three strong vines and wrap them clockwise around a support system (trellis, pergola, tall pole, or strong twine).
Hops are used in brewing. They are a gentle sedative and can be used to stuff pillows or dried for flower arrangements in winter.