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How to Grow Hops–Humulus

Hops cones, Humulus lupulus

Hops—Humulus—are grown in gardens for their bold, large-lobed leaves and the decorative flowers (hops) borne on female plants in autumn.

Hop vines are rapid growers. Their bright green leaves can cover a trellis or arbor in one season enlivening a garden. Each plant bears either male or female flowers. Female flowers are pale green and cone-like; male flowers are small and yellow in clusters.

There are two species in the Humulus genus. One species, Humulus japonica, is commonly grown as an annual and has a variegated cultivar that bears interesting mottled leaves.

Humulus lupulus foliage is quick growing and dense

Get to Know Hops–Humulus

  • Plant type: Perennial vine
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 4 to 8
  • Hardiness: Half hardy; can be damaged by frost
  • Height and width: 10-20 feet (3-6m) tall
  • Foliage: Deeply lobed, palmate leaves
  • Flowers: A plant will bear male or female flowers; female plants bear pale green, cone-like, flowers that are small and appear in clusters; male plants bear yellow flowers
  • Bloom time: Mid to late summer
  • Uses: Screening, cover arbor or pergola
  • Common name: Hops
  • Botanical name: Humulus
  • Family name: Cannabaceae

Where to Plant Hops–Humulus

  • Plant hops in full sun or partial shade.
  • lant hops in humus-rich, well-drained soil.
  • Give hops a sturdy trellis upon which to climb.
  • Hops prefer a soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0.

When to Plant Hops–Humulus

  • Sow seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost in spring.
  • After sowing seed in pots, place the pots in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks before moving them to a warm spot (70°-75°F/21°-24°C) for germination.
  • Sow seed directly in the garden 2 weeks before the last frost in spring, or in autumn for germination the following spring.
Common hop, Humulus lupulus
Common hop, Humulus lupulus

Planting and Spacing Hops–Humulus

  • Space hops 8 to 10 feet (2.4-3m) apart.

How to Water and Feed Hops–Humulus

  • Water hops to keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Fertilize hops with an all-purpose fertilizer at planting time or in early spring.

Hops–Humulus Care

  • Hops self-sow and can become weedy; pull up unwanted seedlings as they appear.

Hops–Humulus Pests and Diseases

  • Hops are usually trouble free but are susceptible to downy mildew, powdery mildew, and anthracnose.
Japanese hops with mottled leaves
Humulus japonica ‘Variegatus’ has sometimes mottled leaves

Hops–Humulus Propagation

  • Propagate hop by greenwood cuttings in early summer.

Hops–Humulus Varieties to Grow

  • Humulus lupulus, common hop: Perennial; grows to 20 feet (6m); female plants have aromatic bracts that hide pale green dropping cone-like flower clusters to nearly one inch long; males bear tiny yellow flowers in clusters up to 4 inches (10cm) long; cultivar ‘Aureus’ has golden leaves—it needs full sun to color well.
  • H. japonicus ‘Variegatus’: Perennial usually grown as an annual; grows to 10 feet (3m); ovoid spikes of green female flowers from mid to late summer; leaves are green streaked with white.


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