Unfortunately, hops are rarely found in private gardens, but the climbing plant is definitely an eye-catcher and the plants can be used in many ways. Those who are keen to experiment can brew their own beer, those interested in natural medicine can use the fruit heads for internally and externally effective remedies, and hop shoots are also good as privacy screens. From this point of view, hops should not be missing in any garden. However, the shoots are up to 7 m long. How to plant, care for and prune hops, read the following text.
Table of Contents
- Hemp family
- Three hop species, all from the northern hemisphere
- The best-known representative – real hops – for brewing beer
- Also the Japanese hops and the Yuann hops
- A distinction is also made between wild hops and cultivated hops
- Fast-growing annual to perennial herbaceous climbing plants
- Wind clockwise
- coarse stems
- Leaves with opposite stalks, three to seven, rarely nine lobes
- Dioecious of separate sexes
- flowering in June
- Flowers unremarkable
- Green-yellow cones
- Can also be used as a medicinal plant
Hops are an easy-care plant that can be planted out or cultivated in a bucket. It is ideal for shading terraces or as a privacy screen for them. The cultivated hops we offer are perennial. In addition, only female plants are usually offered. If you want to brew beer or use hops as a medicinal plant, you have to make sure that you have female plants. The female spike cones are used for both.
The Japanese ornamental hop is sown and is only an annual. Hops are thriving. The plants can grow up to 9 m high. On good days there is an increase in length of 20 cm. Hop plants need a stable trellis that they can wind along. From May, the shoots must be threaded clockwise around the trellis. Since the shoots continue to grow until harvest, this must be repeated regularly. The good thing about hops is that they don’t damage the facade. The plants move in in the fall and only sprout again in the spring.
Hops like a sunny to semi-shady location, but can also do well in shady places as long as they are not dark. However, sun is necessary for fruiting. The substrate should be rich in nutrients, deep, permeable and moist. Too much moisture or too much dryness are harmful. The best time to plant hops is spring. They are also suitable for keeping in buckets. Drainage should be installed there. It is important to keep a sufficient distance from other plants, because hops overgrow everything and also spread through their roots. Watering is important, as is the supply of nutrients. Hops are only pruned once a year, either in autumn or in early spring, absolutely before budding begins. In specialist companies, hops are propagated by cuttings, however, sowing is also possible. Unfortunately, hops are also afflicted by some diseases and pests. Early detection helps to avoid worse.
Hops like the sun, but can also cope with partial shade and even shade. However, sufficient sunshine is important in the fruiting phase. Also, overall growth depends on the sun. Hops feel at home both individually and in group plantings.
- As sunny as possible
- Partial shade is well tolerated
- Shade is accepted, but affects growth and fruiting.
Hops actually get along with any soil. But it is favorable if it is properly rich in nitrogen. A permeable substrate is important so that the water cannot accumulate. Constant wetness is harmful. However, substrate that is too dry is not helpful either.
- Nutritious, deep
- water permeable
- A little damp but not wet
- Loose to sandy loamy soil
Spring is the best time to plant hops. When planting, the distance to neighboring plants, but also to neighboring plots, is important. Hops spread widely through their roots. It’s growing in all directions, so to speak, not just upwards. Some distances are specified, which is regulated differently in the individual federal states.
- Put older plants into the ground at the end of March
- Unwoody young plants are only planted from May or then in autumn, from the end of September to November
- When kept in buckets – drainage in the pot
- Be careful not to get the soil too wet
- Mulch the soil so that it retains moisture longer and does not dry out as quickly.
watering and fertilizing
Hops need sufficient water and nutrients, adjusted in quantity to the progress of growth. The more shoots and leaf mass are present, the more of both is necessary.
- Water regularly
- Potted plants in particular need a good water supply.
- The substrate should not dry out, always be slightly damp.
- When it is dry, the leaves turn brown and the cones lose their attractiveness
- However, permanent wetness is not good either.
- Fertilize with compost or animal manure in spring
- Work into the soil around the rootstock
- Supply sufficient nutrients, especially nitrogen, during growth.
- It is best to fertilize like vegetables, but according to the growth multiplied by the increase in mass.
Hops actually only need to be pruned once a year. There are different information at the time. What is certain is that the plants move in in the fall. This means any nutrients left in the leaves and shoots “flow” back into the rootstock. Towards the end of September, the above-ground parts of the plant first turn yellow, later brown and then quite unsightly and dry. Some professionals recommend cutting off the parts above ground. Others don’t do it until February. A good solution for the parts that have become unsightly is to cut them off in autumn, but leave about 50 to 80 cm so that the rest of the nutrients can still go back. Nutrients that are still available can be stored in this way.
- Cut only once a year
- Best in autumn after the plant has moved in
- Leave 50 to 80 cm
- Cut these down in February
Otherwise, it is advisable to only let 3 to 4 strong shoots climb up a climbing aid so that larger umbels develop. The rest are better removed. This is how hops grow tall, 7 to 8 meters. If you want to prevent height growth, leave all shoots on the plant. So she has to spread her power over more shoots and they don’t grow as much. They then become about 3m to 5m high.
The hop stock itself is sufficiently hardy, even without protection. The herb withers and withers. It can be removed. When keeping in buckets, make sure that the substrate does not freeze through. The tubs should not stand in the sun, because then the temperature differences between day and night are too high.
Temperature fluctuations are harmful to hops. It is better to keep the tub on the north side or to wrap it up and cover it well with straw or brushwood.
In specialist companies, hops are only propagated vegetatively, because this is the only way to preserve their good characteristics and sex. This does not work with a seed. Sowing is possible, but it is not known whether the plants are male or whether they are disease-prone or low-yielding plants.
- In spring, from March
- Cold germs, so seed needs to be stratified
- Use seed compost
- It is best to use a seed box
- Scatter seeds, press down slightly and cover only lightly with soil
- Pour carefully, preferably spray with a spray bottle
- Keep warm and bright, but not in the sun
diseases and pests
Unfortunately, like many other cultivated plants, hops are often afflicted by diseases and pests. It is important to recognize these in good time and to intervene quickly so that they can be prevented from spreading.
- Hop Aphid – occurs from late May through to harvest, often only recognizable by the sticky, shiny droppings of the insects (honeydew) that fall to the bottom. The lice often sit too high to be able to see them with the eyes. These excretions can also be attacked by sooty mold and appear black. Chemical agents that are used in vegetable cultivation help, eg with wine or beans, alternatively spray nettle brew or water with a dash of washing-up liquid over the affected parts
- Common spider mite (red spider) – the infestation can often only be recognized late, when the insects have already multiplied a lot. Leaves and umbels turn copper-red in no time. The infestation begins on the lower leaves of the plant and is initially recognized by light spots on the leaves. Acaricides can be used to combat it, but these are systemic agents that are absorbed by the plant.
- Hop wilt – common in susceptible varieties, can lead to the death of the entire hop. The fungus infects young or injured roots and invades the water channels, which clogs. There are signs of wilting. The aging process and death are accelerated. There are no effective remedies against the fungus. Only prevention helps here by planting wilt-tolerant varieties.
- Powdery Mildew – Identified by floury white spots and plaque, mainly on the upper surface of leaves. Powdery mildew pustules can spread to all plant parts above ground. The fungus appears mainly in warm weather. Dense stands encourage its spread. It is important to start fighting as early as possible. There are plant protection products on the market, but home remedies often help against powdery mildew. So you can spray with a water-milk mixture (9:1) against the infestation. The difficulty is to get to the affected areas everywhere with the increase in height. The treatment usually has to be repeated several times.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can you tell if it is a female or a male plant?
The difference can only be seen in the flower. The umbels are different. Only the female plants form the well-known umbels. Male specimens form their anthers in loose panicles. Specialist companies usually supply female plants, or they know which of their plants has which sex.
When are hops harvested?
You harvest when the umbels are still firm and closed, but the lupulline, i.e. the yellowish “powder” inside the umbel, already smells aromatic and is sticky. This is usually the case between late August and early September. You cannot see the lupullin from the outside, so an umbel has to be opened.