How to Grow Hops:

5 Easy and Basic Steps

Want to know how to grow hops at home? Want to add that extra touch to your hand crafted beer? These 5 easy steps gives every home grower the basics in how to grow hops at home.

How to grow Hops

 

Step 1: Buy a Hop Rhizome:

Hop plants are grown from a Hop Rhizome which is a small portion of an existing hop plant that can be planted elsewhere. All rhizomes are sold in late winter so that you can plant in early spring. You can find rhizomes sold online or in your local gardening store.

Step 2: Choose where to plant your hops:

Your hops should be planted in a pre-thought out location. There are three things to consider when looking for a location:

  1. The location needs to get maximum sunlight during the summer months.
  2. The location should have enough room so the hop plant can grow vertically up. (if your trellis allows for it, your hops can grow over 20 feet or 3 meters).
  3. The site should be well drained. Water should not pool in the area of your proposed location. If pooling occurs the hop rhizomes can drown which means no hops!

Tip: To help with drainage, you can change out the soil in the selected area with a store purchased soil and gravel mixture to ensure there is good drainage.

Step 3: Planting your Hops:

Once you have your rhizome and have selected and prepared your planting site, its time to plant. The rhizome should be planted about 2inches (5cm) deep. The rhizome has roots at the bottom and buds at the top. Ensure the buds are facing upwards, so that the buds have the quickest possible path to the surface. We have gone into more detail about planting hops here.

Tip: To help with drainage, building up a small mound with the soil mixture a few inches above the natural ground level will allow the excess water to drain away from the rhizome.

Step 4: Caring for Hops:

Watering:

Hop plants require light frequent watering. Take care not to over water new plants as you may drown and suffocate them. A good guide is to ensure they get a small drink every day when your plant is young and then scale it back as your hops starts to grow. If it’s been raining there is no need to add more water.

Tip: Take care when watering to avoid splashing soil onto the leaves. Soil on the leaves encourages some diseases.

Triming:

To get the most out of your plant, you want to trim back your plant so you are focusing on only 2-3 bines. These 2-3 bines are the bines that should be trained around your trellis wire. You can train 2-3 bines per wire. The remaining bines should be cut off at the ground so that all the nutrients go into the bines being trained.

Tip: Be sure to only cut  your plant once the plant is at least 1 foot (30cm) out of the ground.

Step 5: Harvesting Hops:

Knowing when to harvest your hops will be easy if you follow the simple rules below to determine if your hops are ready:

When on the bine, look at the hop cone to see if the following has occurred:

  • The ends of the hop cones should start to look dry.
  • The leaves on the cone are starting to open
  • The hop cone has a slight discolor at the tips which means the moisture has left the hops. (this means they are ready to be harvested)

Test a hop cone by picking one and break it open and look, smell and squeeze test:

Look: Gold color not a light yellow color

Smell: Has a hop aroma not a grass smell

Squeeze: Should spring back to its original shape, feel dry and sound similar to paper. It should not stay flat after squeezing or sound moist

Tip: Knowing when to harvest your hops does take a little bit of experience but if you follow the above steps you will eliminate most mistakes.

What’s next?

Now you know the basic steps of how to grow hops at home, you can now hop straight into growing your own hops at home. If you would still like some more information on hops, check out our other articles below. For a comprehensive guide to growing hops you can go straight to our dedicated book on hops which you will also find a link to below.

Article: Choosing your hops plant

Article: Hops beer garden, location matters!

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TAKE THE NEXT STEP
Everything you need to know about growing hops at home

High-Resolution-eCover-JPGIf you are hop mad like us, growing hops at home is your next step, its easy and its made even simpler by the Growing your Own Hops at Home ebook that is now available.

Its all here: the different varieties of hops, the growing seasons and cycles, what to do with your rhizomes, how to choose your hop plant, where to plant your hops, caring for your hops, harvesting hops, drying hops and preparing for each growing season.