Hops: Potted Perennial Plant
How to Plant
Planting Potted Plants:
- Choose a location in full sun with well-drained soil with no standing water. Be sure to have your support in place as the vines grow quite long. A trellis or pergola would work very well.
- Prepare the bed by turning the soil under to a depth of 6-12 inches removing any debris, and lightly raking as level as possible.
- The addition of organic matter (leaf mold, compost, well-rotted manure) benefits all gardens and is essential in recently constructed neighborhoods. Hops prefer a pH of 6.5-8.0, add any amendments to raise the pH at this time.
- Plant on a cloudy day or in late afternoon to reduce transplant shock.
- Dig a hole at least twice the size of the root ball. Space plants 3 feet apart.
- Unpot the plant and gently loosen the root ball with your hands to encourage good root growth.
- Set the plant in the hole so that the root ball is level with the surrounding soil line. After the plant is set into the hole, backfill and push the soil firmly into the hole cavity.
- Water deeply; the water will seal off any air pockets around the root ball.
- Mulch the area around the hole to a depth of 2-3 inches.
- Use the marker to indicate where the plant is planted.
How to Grow
- Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients, so control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their germination.
- Mulches also help retain soil moisture and maintain even soil temperatures. For perennials, an organic mulch of aged bark or shredded leaves lends a natural look to the bed and will improve the soil as it breaks down in time. Always keep mulches off a plant’s stems to prevent possible rot.
- Careful watering is essential in getting perennials off to a good start. Water thoroughly at least once a week to help new roots grow down deeply. Soil should be damp at about 1 inch below the soil surface. You can check this by sticking your finger in the soil. Water early in the morning to give all leaves enough time to dry. One inch of rain or watering per week is recommended for most perennial plants. You can check to see if you need to add water by using a rain gauge.
- In spring before any leaves sprout, fertilize with a slow release fertilizer designed for flowering plants. Most new growth will come from the plant’s crown, from under the soil.
- Plants use a lot of energy in spring when growth begins, so do not let plants dry out.
- Hops requires 120 frost free days in order to bloom. Do not expect many flowers the first year you plant hops.
- Hops makes a great privacy screen in summer. The vines grow up to 25 feet long annually from the crown.
- Hops die back to the ground each fall. Cut back after frost kills the vines.
- To produce flowers hops needs 120 frost-free days. Vigorous vines can produce up to 2 lbs. of dried flowers per plant.
- The second year, when vines are about 1 foot tall, select 2-3 strong shoots and wrap them clockwise around a trellis or pole. Cut back weak shoots at ground level.
- Avoid getting water on foliage to prevent disease issues.
- Harvest green cones in late summer. Judge their readiness by feeling and smelling the cones. Cones that are too green to pick are slightly damp and soft and stay compressed when squeezed. They will be light, dry and feel papery when they are ready to pick. Your hands will pick up the smell and stickiness of the powder lupulin. Once harvested hops need to be dried for about three days at temperatures no higher than 140 degrees F. When ready to store, dry hops are springy and the lupulin powder will fall off. Store in a freezer in well-compressed sealed plastic bags.
Common Disease Problems
Botrytis: This fungus causes a grey mold on flowers, leaves, stems and buds. It thrives in cool wet weather conditions. Burpee Recommends: Remove affected plant parts, avoid watering at night and getting water on the plant when watering. Make sure plants have good air circulation. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.
Downy Mildew: This fungus causes whitish grey patches on the undersides and eventually both sides of the leaves. Burpee Recommends: Rotate crops with plants in a different family. Avoid overhead watering. Provide adequate air circulation, do not overcrowd plants. Do not work around plants when they are wet.
Powdery Mildew: This fungus disease occurs on the top of the leaves in humid weather conditions. The leaves appear to have a whitish or greyish surface and may curl. Burpee Recommends: Avoid powdery mildew by providing good air circulation for the plants by good spacing and pruning. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.
Root Rots: A number of pathogens cause root rots. Burpee Recommends: Pull up and discard infected plants. Make sure your soil has excellent drainage. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations.
Sooty Mold: This is caused by a mold that grows on the honeydew excreted by aphids and other sucking insects. Burpee Recommends: Control taller plants for aphids or scale. Wash off the surface of the leaves with soapy water. The damage is cosmetic only.
Common Pest and Cultural Problems
Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps who feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.
Cucumber Beetles: Beetles may be spotted, striped or banded and can be very harmful. Beetles are usually ¼ to ½ inch in size Beetles start feeding as soon as they hatch and can kill or slow the growth of the plants. Beetle larva can also bore through the roots of the plants. Beetles can also transmit diseases from plant to plant. Burpee Recommends: Knock off adults into a jar of soapy water and destroy them. Spade the soil to destroy dormant beetles before you plant. Use a row cover to prevent adults from feeding on young plants. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for other insecticide recommendations.
Japanese Beetles: Burpee Recommends: Hand pick early in the morning into a bucket of soapy water.
Slugs: These pests leave large holes in the foliage or eat leaves entirely. They leave a slime trail, feed at night and are mostly a problem in damp weather. Burpee Recommends: Hand pick, at night if possible. You can try attracting the slugs to traps either using cornmeal or beer. For a beer trap, dig a hole in the ground and place a large cup or bowl into the hole; use something that has steep sides so that the slugs can’t crawl back out when they’re finished. Fill the bowl about ¾ of the way full with beer, and let it sit overnight. In the morning, the bowl should be full of drowned slugs that can be dumped out for the birds to eat. For a cornmeal trap, put a tablespoon or two of cornmeal in a jar and put it on its side near the plants. Slugs are attracted to the scent but they cannot digest it and it will kill them. You can also try placing a barrier around your plants of diatomaceous earth or even coffee grounds. They cannot crawl over these.
Spider Mites: These tiny spider-like pests are about the size of a grain of pepper. They may be red, black, brown or yellow. They suck on the plant juices removing chlorophyll and injecting toxins which cause white dots on the foliage. There is often webbing visible on the plant. They cause the foliage to turn yellow and become dry and stippled. They multiply quickly and thrive in dry conditions. Burpee Recommends: Spider mites may be controlled with a forceful spray every other day. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for miticide recommendations.
Can I grow hops in a container? No, the plants become quite large and need plenty of space for their roots to grow.
What if I cannot supply a support, can hops trail on the ground? We do not recommend this as this could encourage disease issues and the plants would not grow as well. Consider using a wall for support, or a porch, the plants grow quite long. You would need to provide something for the vines to curl around as they will not stick to walls as ivy does.
How can I avoid the smell? You cannot, it is part of the plant. You might want to use gloves when harvesting.
Can I use hops for beer? Yes you absolutely can!