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Hop Propagation Methods

Posted by vinpaysdoc on 4/18/2015 at 07:56:10 PM

It's Spring and many brewers are talking about their hops. This is a short and sweet article on how to increase your hop yard or share with friends. Me? I'm hoping to have Cascade take over my English Ivy.....

Methods to start growing:

1. Hop Plants - Available from a few merchants, notably Great Lake Hops. Be sure you pick these up from someone selling hops to brewers. If you pick plants up at the Farmer's Market they may be ornamental or male plants. Full plants will be best planted in the Spring.

2. Crowns - Crowns are 4 mo to 1 year plants that have produced cones and entered dormancy. They are usually available in the Fall and have the advantage that they have already developed a root system and will further establish themselves over the Winter. Plant them in the Fall and look forward to the Spring.

3. Rhizomes - Rhizomes are part of the root system of the plant that are pruned in late winter. They are widely available from many online retailers for pre-order and ship in the Spring. These are, perhaps, a little less reliable than using crowns.

4. Bine Cuttings - At the end of the growing season, when the leaves begin to fall off, cut the bine at it's base up to about 4-6 feet. Bury the bine about 4 inches deep in soil to over-winter. I would suggest that you put them in a planter so that the bines don't get confused with other roots in the soil you bury them in. In early Spring, dig up the bines, cut them into sections with two leaf nodes apiece, and plant them two to a mound like you would rhizomes. This method is not as reliable as planting rhizomes, but, it's cheaper than buying them.

5. Shoot Cuttings - Mounds often produce more shoots than you want to let grow. You can cut these extra shoots just below the ground and plant them with some success. David Beach, in Homegrown Hops, suggests a 50% success rate with this method early in the Spring. Cut the shoot after it has grown 8-12 inches, remove the leaves from the bottom half, use a skewer to make a hole in the soil, and place the shoot in the hole. I use a planter to keep them in until I'm sure they are going to survive. Another method is to put the shoots in a jar of water until the roots grow out and then plant them. This is a great way to increase your hop yard or share with friends.

6. Seeds - Shudder. I only mention them because you can grow hops from seeds. The trouble is you may get male plants this way. 

Happy growing!

Tags for this post: Hops, Growing, Propagation

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This is a great tutorial - thanks for posting it. All great information !

One quick question about bine cuttings ... as we're heading toward harvest in the next few weeks, I was thinking about propagating some new plants to extend my hop garden. I've seen the "layering" technique with actively growing bines before, but have never thought of doing this in the fall. Do you actually detach the section of bine from the crown before you bury it or do you leave it attached just as you would with spring layering/trenching ? My hops are currently in wine barrels with limited soil nearby so, if possible, the ability to remove the bone and bury it in a nursery bed elsewhere would be perfect. Any clarification would be great.

Thanks so much for all of the info !

posted by chrishattich on 8/05/2015 at 10:59:22 PM

True confessions time. I have done it precisely one time. I buried mine in a sandbox tied with twine. When I went out in the spring to dig up the bines I couldn't find them among the other roots in the box. Only one managed to break out of the soil (I dubbed her Scarlett and she's residing with Olan at the moment).

To your point, I have no idea what the "layering technique" is. For bine cuttings I simply cut an inch or so above the soil. Rereading your question, yes, you detach them from the crown and place them wherever you can bury them about 4 inches to over-winter.

Just be careful where you bury them that they are WELL MARKED and there are few competing roots to make identification complicated in the spring. This season I hope to do better myself.

posted by vinpaysdoc on 8/06/2015 at 05:05:16 AM

I appreciate the response - thank you ! Ok, that makes total sense. Rather than tossing my fall prunings in the yard waste, segments can be buried for new plants. I'm going to give it a go in a few weeks for sure.

In the layering techniques, you use an actively growing bine in the spring. Rather than letting it climb vertically, you dig a small trench out from the crown and lay the bine in it with just its tip coming put of th ground. After a few weeks, all of the leaf nodes along the buried portion will have roots forming. Then its just like your method for fall ... dig them up and clip them into rooted segments.

Excellent, thanks again !

posted by chrishattich on 8/06/2015 at 06:15:45 PM

This piece has a lot of great information. I am a propagator/grower of field-grade starter hop plants at Sandy Ridge Farms in MI and would be happy to answer any questions.

posted by julieakane on 2/05/2016 at 02:14:25 PM