Hops Growing Guide
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Hops Growing Guide

What are Hops?

So, we’ve all heard of Hops but what exactly are they and what are they used for? Hops is also known as the “alpha acid”, they’re cone-shaped flowers derived from the plant Humulus Lupulus, mostly used in brewing beer. Many herbalists use Hops for its medicinal properties. It has been known to help with restlessness, tension, irritability, nervousness, and much more. Native to the northern hemisphere and has been used for more than 2,000 years to help manage a variety of ailments; the term “hops” comes from the Anglo-Saxon term “hoppan”, which means “to climb”. Hops can be consumed as a tea, extract, or into a tincture. It is utilized for its flavoring, preserving, and relaxing medicinal qualities between herbalists and brewers alike. Hops will return year after year if cared for properly.

How to Start Growing Hops

As a hardy perennial plant, typically sown in early spring after the last frost. Hops typically need a minimum of 120 days (frost-free) to flower and produce a good crop. Make sure you plant your hops in an area with sufficient vertical space. If you’re growing in your backyard garden, it is possible to grow Hops along a fence or trellis up a balcony. The Hop plant is dioecious, which means it has separate male and female plants.

In Zones 4 through 8, the Hops plant should be planted in early spring, although you may want to start them indoors several weeks before, as they require a period of winter chilling and a growing season of 120 days. Making sure you get your rhizomes in the ground before temperatures rise is extremely important. Germinating Hops seed has been known to take some time, they require “stratification”, this is a process of pre-treating seeds in order to simulate natural conditions that seeds would experience in the soil over-winter. It helps the seed break dormancy and start the germination process.

One of the best methods is to put seeds in equal amount of moist sand and refrigerate from one to three months at about 41 degrees F. (Stratification process) The optimal temperature for planting in-ground is 68 degrees F. If your Hop seeds do not germinate, it is best to repeat the stratification cycle.

Did You Know?

Did you know that Hops grow on Bines not Vines. Bines will grow and twist around something, whereas vines grow little tendrils (like arms) that grip onto things.

Our Favorite Hops to Grow

Hops Plant Spacing

In-Ground Planting

Row Spacing - 8 feet apart

Plant Spacing - 2 to 3 feet apart

Planting Depth - 4 inches deep

Hops Soil, Irrigation, & Fertilizer

Soil Requirements to Grow Hops

  • Loose, well-draining soil
  • pH between 6.0 and 7.5
  • Rich in organic materials
  • Good quality compost added to the soil

Hops Irrigation Requirements

Hops typically require 1-2 inches of water per week. The roots will not tolerate standing water, this is why well-drained soil is important.  During initial establishment, light frequent irrigation are sufficient. Remember wet foliage can encourage disease formation so using drip irrigation is always recommended to be sure that your hops plants are getting moisture directly to their root system. If you’re using conventional overhead watering techniques, try and use something like the Dramm Watering Can and water and fertilize at the base of the plant to keep moisture off the leaves.

Raised Bed Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

At Time of Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 7.5, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row or ¼ cup per plant of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

2 Weeks After Planting

1 cup Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement with 5 gallons of water. Each plant gets 1 quart of the solution next to the plant stem. Repeat every 4 weeks.

4 Weeks After Planting and Every 4 Weeks

1/4 cup of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer per plant evenly spread around plant.

In-Ground Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

At Time of Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 7.5, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row or ¼ cup per plant of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

2 Weeks After Planting

1 cup Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement with 5 gallons of water. Each plant gets 1 quart of the solution next to the plant stem. Repeat every 4 weeks.

4 Weeks After Planting and Every 4 Weeks

1/4 cup of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer per plant evenly spread around plant.

Hops Pest & Disease Protection

Insects

Organic Controls

Horticulture Oil
Aphids, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Spider Mites, Thrips

Bug Buster-O
Aphids, Flea Beetles, Whiteflies, Moths, Armyworms

Monterey BT
Caterpillars, Cabbage Loppers

Take Down Garden Spray
Aphids, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Moths

Diatomaceous Earth
Cutworms, Ants, Slugs

Sluggo Plus
Slugs

Treat as needed using label instructions.

Common Diseases

Organic Controls

Complete Disease Control
Gray Mold, Leaf Spots, Anthracnose, Powdery Mildew

Treat as needed using label instructions.

Harvesting, Preserving, and Storing Hops

When & How To Harvest Hops

Commercial growers will typically use machines/heavy equipment when harvesting their hops, for home gardeners, there are two harvesting hand methods that we recommend. Method #1: cut the vines from their trellis when most of the hops cones are mature, make sure to first pick the lower vines first (3 feet above the ground), by doing this it will help prevent injury to the roots and crown. Method # 2: Pick the cones individually as they mature, since they mature at different rates expect many harvests. Just be sure to prune your hops plant back at the end of the season. Pro Tip: leave 2-3 feet of the vine to be buried for propagating new hops plants the following season.

Storing & Keeping Hops

Whether you’re letting them air dry, drying them out in a dehydrator or oven, it’s important to dry them out as soon as they’re picked to prevent mold or mildew from spoiling them. If choosing to use a form of heat to dry out your hops, do not let the temperature exceed 140 degrees F.

Make sure you turn the cones once a day if you’re letting them air dry. You will know that your hops cones are fully dried out when they become springy when touched or the yellow lupulin easily falls from the cone itself.

Store your hops in a cool, dry, and dark place such as a refrigerator or freezer. Make sure you put your hop cones in a sealable, plastic bag with no air trapped in the bag.

Shop Our Hops!

Hops Growing Tips & Tricks

Medicinal Uses

Hops are high in antioxidants and also have anti-inflammatory benefits. Using hops in an infused oil or salve is an excellent way to use for skin rashes or inflamed skin. You can also try making a hops poultice for healing minor cuts and wounds.

Make a Hops Tea

Did you know that just by pouring boiling water over a few hops cones (the more cones, the stronger and bitter the tea will be), it will make an excellent tea. Add other herbs like peppermint or chamomile to help with flavor if needed. Drinking the tea in the evening can help with people who are prone to sleep issues.

They Get BIG!

Hops plants can grow up to 12 inches per day!! They can reach up to 20-30 feet or even higher, plants typically weighing in around 20-25 pounds. When thinking of a trellis for these big plants, think not only for height but also ease in harvesting.

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