How to Grow Hop Rhizomes and Plants
The best way to start growing your own hops is by transplanting hop rhizomes (or cuttings) or plants in the spring when they can be shipped and stored well. We recommend planting at least 2 rhizomes or plants.
Hops can be grown at almost anywhere or in any type of soil; however, they fair better in rich alluvial or sandy loam soil. They are very hardy plants but the hill they are planted in needs to be well cultivated to encourage proper drainage. They need plenty of water and food that will allow them to grow up to 1′ per day, although not typically the first year. Plant the rhizomes were they will receive plenty of summer sun. They can tolerate temperatures in the 100′s and below freezing. Hops can tolerate elevations up to 7000′; however, elevations below 3000′ encourage more vigorous growth.
Hops will grow to 20′ in length during the first year. Therefore, plant the rhizomes with a plan for trellising your hops, much like a grape vine possibly. Lay your hills out at least 7′ feet apart. Hops shoots can be trained to grow along guide wires, fences, heavy twine and a number of other elevating ideas; but elevate them so they will be easier to harvest.
1) Refrigerate your rhizomes until the soil is ready for planting.
2) Choose a southern exposure, if possible. An east or west exposure is acceptable but the hops will not grow as vigorously.
3) Hops prefer light textured, well drained soil with a pH of 6.0-8.0. If drainage is a problem, cultivate a mound for the planting. Definitely incorporate some organic matter such as manue or grass clippings into the soil, this is also a good time to add some slow release fertilizer such as cottonseed meal, bone meal, rock phosphate, oyster shell, etc.
4) Soak the rhizomes in warm water (approximately 80 degrees) for 1 hour prior to planting. Powdered root stimulates added to the water for soaking of the rhizomes and used during the planting process will bring the shouts out of the ground quicker.
5) Plant the rhizomes vertically with the buds pointing up or horizontally about 2 inches below the soil level.
6) Plant mixed varieties at least 5 feet apart. Identical varieties can be planted 3 feet apart.
7) First year hops have a minimal root system, therefore the soil should not be allowed to dry completely. Mulching the soil surface with some form of organic matter does wonders in conserving moisture as well as controlling weeds.
8) When the vines are about one foot long, select 2-3 strong vines and wrap them clockwise around a support system. This can either be a trellis, or simply a tall pole or strong twine coming down the side of your house.
In future years, the earliest shoots should be pruned off in favor of training up the hardy second growth. After the main vines have been established, all subsequent vines should be removed from around the base of the hop.
Always use strong twine because the vine can become quite heavy. Secure the taut twine to a stake at the have of the mound.