I love beer almost as much as I love gardening, and if I’m being honest, I often combine the two! Nothing beats working outside in the hot summer sun, tending your garden, and enjoying a little bit of beer while you do it. At least for me! Gardening and beer go together in more than one way though. A plant I always grow is hops, and in this article, we’ll be talking about how to grow hops for your homebrew operation – or just for fun!
Hops are a must-have in my garden. I love the way they grow, the hops they produce, their pungent, bitter aroma, and their perennial nature. Let’s dig into how to grow them.
How to grow hops
Before we start trying to grow hops, there are a few things we should understand about them.
- Plant type: vine
- Plant size: 20+ feet
- Sun: Full sun
- Hardiness: Perennial
- Soil: Loamy
- pH: 6.5-8.0
- Watering: Regular, thorough
- Plant spacing: 3 feet
- Fertilizer: phosphorous and potassium
- Harvest: autumn
- Characteristics: Rich, heavy scented fruit, deep green leaves, golden to green fruit
Hops are a vine that can grow upwards of 20 feet in a single growing season. They’re a hardy perennial that dies back over winter but will come back in the spring. Hops are big plants that produce a lot of fruit and need full sun. They prefer loamy, rich soil with a pH of between 6.5 and 8.0 and need regular watering. Plant hops at least 3 feet apart and provide lots of phosphorus and potassium fertilizer.
Growing hops from seed
Saving hops seeds and growing them from seed is a pretty simple process but it can be kind of involved and isn’t always successful. Hops are a slow plant to germinate from seed and they require a process called cold scarification in order to germinate.
Cold scarification is easy but it does take time. Simply place your seeds in a pot of potting soil and store, dampened, in the refrigerator for 30-90 days. Then remove from your refrigerator and keep at a room temperature of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit for about 2 months. If this process doesn’t result in germination, try again with new seeds, but allow to sit in the refrigerator even longer.
Growing hops from rhizomes
If you just want a hops plant growing already, it’s my recommendation that you just buy hops rhizomes and get started that way. To plant a hops rhizome, dig a 4 inch hole and lay the rhizome down in the hole roots facing down. Pack soil overtop the rhizome and water thoroughly. Keep the soil moist until it’s sprouted, then water regularly.
Your hops will grow fast, so you’ll need to provide about 20 feet of growth space for it. You can let it vine up just about anything. It’ll vine up lattice, rope, twine, pretty much anything you give it.
How much hops will one plant produce
A full sized vine will yield somewhere between three quarters of a pound to 2 pounds of dried hops. The rule of thumb for dry hopping 5 gallons of American pale ale is about .5 to 1.5 oz of hops. IPAs require 1.5 to 2.5 oz of hops. A double IPA, as you might expect, requires 2 to 5 oz of hops. Given the yield from just one hops vine, you should expect to be able to brew quite a few gallons of beer!