Growing Hops in the Garden: How to Grow Beer Hops

by Brad Smith on April 10, 2008 · 53 comments

With the ongoing hops shortage, home brewers are turning in record numbers to growing hops for beer at home. Growing hops is an fun way to expand your hop personal hop supply. There is great pride of enjoying a beer brewed with hops you grew at home.

Whether you live in the Northwest, Northeast, Midwest, South or California does not matter – hops can be grown in any moderate climate with proper care. Hops grow from small root-like cuttings about a foot long called rhizomes.

Rhizomes can be purchased from a variety of places online and mailed to your home – just do a quick search for “hop rhizomes” on google.

Location for Growing Hops

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 (called bines) can grow to over 25 feet and weigh over 20 pounds, so vertical space for a trellis is important as well.

Hops prefer well-aerated soil that is rich in nutrients and has good drainage. If you are going to plant several varieties, keep them well separated in your garden. Hop roots will spread quickly and take over the garden unless you separate them and trim the roots each season.

Hop Planting and Care

Hops should be planted in the Spring, late enough to avoid a frost. Fertilize liberally before planting. Plant your hops in a mound and aerate the ground by turning it over several times to aid drainage, enhance growth and prevent disease. Place the rhizomes about 4 inches deep, and make your mound of soil about a foot high to aid drainage. Place the root side of the rhizome down. Cover the mound with some straw or light mulch to inhibit the weeds.

The hop bines grow vertically and require some kind of trellis. Your trellis could some heavy rope or twine going from ground level to your roof, or a few poles securely mounted in the ground. If using rope, select rough twine-like rope so the bines can grab onto it. Keep in mind that the hop bines can be 25+ feet long and weigh 20+ pounds. The trellis should be strong and secure.

Hops also enjoy lots of water and sunlight. In the dry climates or the heat of summer, they may need to be watered daily. Once the hops begins to grow, select the best bines and wrap them around your trellis to train them. You will need to train the hops for a few days, but eventually they will begin growing in a clockwise direction from east to west around your trellis. Train the best shoots and trim the rest off.

Harvesting and Drying your Hops

Your hops will continue to grow throughout the summer, and will be ready to harvest by late summer. The harvest in the first year may not be huge, and in fact it could be very small – hops don’t reach peak yield in the first year.

To determine when to harvest, you need to examine the cones. Mature hop cones will be dry to the touch, springy, have a very strong aromatic hop odor, and leave yellow lupulin powder on your fingers. Check the cones every day or two, and when you think they are ripe, pick one and open it. It should be filled with thick yellow-gold lupulin powder if it is fully ripened.

The hops may not all ripen at once, but you need to harvest each as it ripens. Dry the hops out in a warm dry spot in your house, and keep them away from sunlight. Sunlight can seriously damage picked hops. A paper bag is a good place to store them while drying. The hops should dry out in a week or two. After that, place them in a sealed bag and store the hop cones in your freezer. Remove as much oxygen as possible from the bag to avoid oxidization.

Maintenance of Your Hops

Cut the bines back to 3 feet or so after harvesting. The winter frost will kill off the bines, after which you can cut them back further and cover them until Spring. When Spring comes, take a spade and cut around the rhizome to trim the roots back to about a foot. Trimming the roots will prevent the hops from consuming your entire garden, as they tend to spread rapidly. Add some fertilizer, fresh mulch and a new trellis and you will be ready to grow hops for a fresh new season.

If you want to read more about growing hops, Beer Bits has put together a page of related links.

A properly cared-for hops garden will keep you in fresh hops for years to come.

Note: Hops can be dangerous for dogs to consume so please don’t feed your pets hops.

Thanks again for joining us, and if you have enjoyed this article, please subscribe to our Home Brewing blog or drop a guest vote on BrewPoll using the vote button on the right.

Reference

  • BYO Magazine: “Hop Growing”, March-April 2008, Vol 12, No 2
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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Brad Smith April 11, 2008 at 7:14 pm

The Barley Blog was kind enough to mention this story in his notes post on hop growers:

http://www.thebarleyblog.com/2008/good-news-for-hops/

jeannine asquith September 24, 2008 at 2:44 pm

tutu from Kauai. future hope for raising hop on island and waterfront bar. Welcome any first time hints. Jeannine aka tutu

mr brooke a keefer May 11, 2009 at 7:48 am

hello my name is mr brooke a keefer and i would like to know where i can buy hops seeds to grow my own because i want to start my own home brewing

Brad Smith May 14, 2009 at 6:57 pm

Just google “hop rhizome” and you will find a number of hop suppliers. Hops are grown from rhizomes and not seeds.

Dr. Hardcrab May 25, 2009 at 4:50 am

I bought some rhizomes from Park Seed Co. They carried 4 different ones: Northern, Cascades, Newport, and I can’t remember the 4th.
The reason I said “carried” is: When I just visited their web site to post a link, they are not showing any hops now. When I ordered them, the guy who answered the phone said thy didn’t carry them. When I gave him the number, he said “Oh! They must be new!”. Try like Brad Smith said and Google “hop rhizomes”.

Dr. Hardcrab May 25, 2009 at 4:54 am

O.K. You can try this link. I have bought (finished0 hops from them. Their prices are better than Park Seeds. One word though: Some of these places run out of rhizomes very quickly and other will not ship after April. So it will be luck of the draw:

https://commerce.peak.org/vh/f/freshops.com/cgibin/shopper.cgi?search=action&category=RHIZ&keywords=all&template=Templates/rhizomes_storebuilder.html

In case the link doesn’t work, try freshops.com

jb October 7, 2009 at 6:14 am

When is the best time to dig up hops? I live in Michigan, should I dig up in fall, store over winter and replant in the spring? If so what is the best way to store rhizomes until spring planting?

admin October 7, 2009 at 6:21 pm

If you cut back your plants in the fall after you have harvested (to about 3 feet as mentioned in the article) they will survive the winter and grow back in the Spring.

Terry Hromidko October 9, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Would like to know what you think of cooling
the wort with two and a half gallons of ice water?

admin October 10, 2009 at 8:42 am

You can cool wort with ice water but you need to make sure the ice water is extremely sterile or you risk infecting your batch.

Paul Nos. January 11, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Thinking about Turning some Hay Fields to hops Southeast Mass
what would be the best starter hop to Grow?

Brad Smith January 12, 2011 at 8:22 am

Hi – I’m not sure I’m the most qualified person to answer that, but I would think that many of the European and American varieties would grow well in the Northeast. If you are looking to plant a large quantity I would recommend you contact someone who professionally grows hops for advice before making thst investment.

jacqueline February 13, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I will be getting some rhizomes in a few weeks and am wondering how far apart should the rhizomes be placed? I have raised beds that I plan on using to plant the rhizomes and use a trellis from there. The beds are 4×8 feet. SHould I place just one rhizome per bed or put several of the same type of rhizome into each bed?

Brad Smith February 13, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Hi,
Its up to you – the challenge is that the vines do tend to spread from season to season, so if you are not careful when trimming the roots each season you may have a mix of several varieties all together.

Cheers,
Brad

growing seeds March 25, 2011 at 4:55 am

Great hops! Thanks for the gardening tips. They are indeed useful.

Bill Snowden May 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm

I just received some beautiful rhizomes that I ordered on Ebay from a hop grower in Kansas. Craiglist sometimes has hops for sale as well. Also, More Beer in Concord Ca and Brewmasters Warehouse sell rhizomes when available.

Linda June 5, 2011 at 9:34 am

I just came home from a trip to Germany and saw many hops fields and was curious about the growing and harvesting process. You have a lot of info here, thank you for the education…no I am not planning to grow them, but it is interesting.

heritage seeds June 30, 2011 at 10:01 am

Great information that I could use for my garden. I love the videos you posted. They were very helpful. Thanks!

Eileen Giddings September 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Just picked some hops. I hope they are ready. I had planted three young hops plants two years ago. the first year there were few hops. this summer it seems like one plant didn’t do too good, one plant has beautiful formed cones, but the other plant has these flowery open cones that never closed up. Those ones I picked today cause they started getting yellowish. Are these flowery ones that didn’t close up like a cone still good??? The beautiful cones are still out there. I will pick soon. Today is Sept 24, 2011. I hope someone has an answer about the cones that never got tight, they look more flowery.

Sachin Gite April 28, 2012 at 7:00 am

Hi, I am from Mumbai, India. i want to do a Hops Farming and i want to sell it to USA’s Beer Company.
If you are intrested to Help me or Guide me, please revert me as soon as possible.

Yours Faithfuly,

Sachin Gite

Anthony June 1, 2012 at 8:49 am

Hello,

if i cut the roots/rhizomes with a spade every year, am I sure the pruned parts will die underground ? or is it necessary to dig them up ?
Thanks
Anthony.

Tim June 15, 2012 at 12:55 am

I wanted to get some hops started this year, even though it is a little late. I binged “hops rhizomes” and came up with this: “Beer Hops 10 Seeds- Humulus lupulus – Exotic! 99 cents.” Can you grow them from seeds or do you need the rhizome (looks like twig)? I wanted to grow some for making beer.

Brad Smith June 18, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Hi,
You can only grow hops from rhizomes – no seeds.

Brad

some guy June 20, 2012 at 5:18 pm

How about some hyperlinks to the further articles in this series?

Rose Mary Miller September 22, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Two years ago in Montana I dug up part of a plant growing in an alley (with prmission). I dug a small hole, next to my fence watered it good and left it. I do not do any maintenance on it and it receives very little watering, mostly from nature. I have so many Hops this year, they remind me of grape clusters. I do not harvest them, just enjoy how they look. I have no idea what type it is. Rose Mary

Steve October 31, 2012 at 9:17 am

In the Spring can I take cuttings, from existing hop roots to start addditional hop plants?

Brad Smith November 8, 2012 at 2:27 pm

In theory yes you can – unfortunately I’m not sure what portion of the root to cut out. Perhaps someone more experienced can chime in here?

JM January 18, 2013 at 7:15 am

There’s plenty if root to go around. I practically chopped a crown in half once with no ill effect. On the opposite end, I also took a very small leftover piece that I never expected to survive and started it in a pot before transferring it to the growing area. Just make sure the cutting tool (or shovel) is clean and use rooting hormone on the cut ends. Also be careful when digging up part of a crown. If you disturb to many roots you can set back the parent plant for a year. Either way, they are really resilient and spreading is usually more of an issue than killing them!

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Hi there, You have done a great job. I will certainly
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I am sure they will be benefited from this website.

signs and symptoms of mono February 1, 2013 at 7:24 am

You made some decent points there. I checked on the web to learn more about the issue and found most individuals
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Terry Huggett March 12, 2013 at 4:22 pm

As any one got any hop rhizomes going free l live in the Doncaster area many thanks

andy hamara May 21, 2013 at 10:45 am

This is my first attempt. I need to figure out a trellis yet. All economical suggestions welcome.

Diane Childs September 8, 2013 at 10:40 pm

Thanks for the great info. I have been growing hops for 2 years and didn’t even know it. A good friend gave me a root, the plant did ok the first year, but this year it had these cones on it. I did some research and it is a female hops. I have it growing up my deck with trellis that meets up with the railings. not growing it to harvest, just think it is a beautiful plant. It is in a flower bed with other plants, I am just not sure how far away from the hops plant do I cut the roots so they don’t choke out my other plants.

Dan September 26, 2013 at 4:05 pm

I recently harvested a rhyzome from some wild hops growing near telluride CO. They we’d growing on the trail to Bridal Vail Falls.

Does anyone know what variety this is?
Does anyone know how best to store the rhyzome until I’m ready to plant next spring?

Your help is appreciated!

shashank September 28, 2013 at 1:11 am

Hey its shank
im living in india.
frm where could i buy rhizomes for planting n how could i find supplier for sell them at best price in foreign.

J December 21, 2013 at 8:15 am

You can actually grow them from seed but it takes much longer and need to remove male plants, less you risk seeding all your hops making it less flavourful and generally not good hops for beer making.

Breaking Barley April 11, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Has anyone encountered a problem with deer eating hops?

Mayur Bhamare May 8, 2014 at 5:44 am

Hello,
i am Mayur, i am from Nasik, India.
i just came ascoss this website and found it interesting.
i have my own land with ample/continuous water supply.
PLease some one guide me the planting procedure and maintenence of hops, and how many times can harvest the hop in a year.

bethe June 3, 2014 at 10:56 am

Just planted rooted rhizome with aboutt 3 feet of vine from 1 gal. Bucket into raised bed. The tip of the vine got broken. Will it continue to grow?

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