Rigging Hop Bines Without a Hop Trellis

    Adjustable Hop Bine Rigging

    Adjustable Hop Bine Rigging

    Rigging Hop Bines for Unlimited Height

    Rigging Hop Bines for Unlimited Height

    Rigging hops experiment for maximum growth with limited height.   Ok, here is my theory put to action.  As the hop bines reach the top of the rope, I let out some rope and loop the slack off the ground and the hop bines have more vertical space to grow.  I am thinking about using hose hangers mounted to the garage wall to loop the rope and bines with room for air circulation.

    A hop trellis in my opinion is more for looks than functionality (traditional trellis definition of lattice wood structure – sometimes rope/twine structures are referred to as a trellis, a loose interpretation).  Harvesting hops from a trellis requires a ladder or cherry picker to reach the hop cones.  Rigging hops with rope allows you to lower the bines to the ground for picking the hop flowers.  If you use a pulley or similar rigging system, you don’t need to go to the top of a line/pole/trellis to harvest or drop the bines to the ground.  Don’t get me wrong, I love hops climbing a trellis or arbor or pergola.  Hops make a great shade cover, look great and aromatic to boot.

    As you can see, my hop plants – humulus lupulus have to compete with my wife’s Peonies.  It won’t be long and the hops will be towering over their competition.  I would rather lose the flowers but that is not a battle worth waging, besides, the flowers were there first.

    From left to right are: Nugget hops, Magnum hops and Cascade hops.  To give you a sense of proportion, the wooden stake is a foot out of the ground.  The hop bines are bout 2 feet tall and growing inches a day, about to take off!

    Nugget Hop Bines Starting to Climb

    Nugget Hop Bines Starting to Climb

    Cascade Hops Growing Vertical

    Cascade Hops Growing Vertical

    Magnum Hop Bines Racing to the Top of the Rope

    Magnum Hop Bines Racing to the Top of the Rope

    The rigging for the hop plants consist of a stake with a hook, rope, a pulley and a tie down (flag pole cleat).  The pulley allows for lowering the rope for additional growth and makes harvesting easy – just lower the bines – no ladder needed once installed!  It is far safer to harvest on the ground than on a ladder.  Especially if you are celebrating the harvest with a few homebrews!  Another advantage is you can always lower the bines, harvest the ripe hop cones and raise them again if you have some hop flowers that are not ripe to pick yet.

    I didn’t keep track of the cost of the hop rigging equipment (hooks,  rope, cleats and pulleys)  but I believe it was about $20.  I have close to $20 in hop rhizomes and shipping.  So for $40 and a little time planting hops, I have a great hobby for years to come, I can watch hops grow!  I plan on bartering hops for homebrews from my homebrewing friends (I may even break out my homebrewing equipment and brew a batch), trying some hop sprouts to eat and hop tea to drink and I may try a hop pillow too!

    I have about 15 feet for vertical growth and if this works as planned, I could eventually grow 30 to 40 foot hop bines!  That’s the theory anyway.  I will keep you posted with pictures and stats.  This is a design in progress so I will adapt my configuration as I gain additional experience from this setup.  Keep checking back for progress reports and pictures!

    Categories : grow hops


    1. […] my house or garage and back towards the ground to tie off (tie cleats work good).  Here is how I rig hop bines.  If you are already growing hops, let me know how they are doing.  Hop […]

    2. […] but we can start planning what varieties of hops to plant.  It is a good time to start planning support structures for our hop bines.  Eighteen to twenty feet is an optimum height, but they will take what you give them.  My pulley […]

    3. Laurie,
      I am on year 4 of growing hops and have not noticed any bugs on my hops. I have a friend that has 10 times as many hop bines as me – I help him harvest every year and he has no bug issues either. Not saying it isn’t possible to have an insect problem, but they do not appear to attract bugs more than any other plant in my experience.

    4. Laurie says:

      Great idea. About to grow some cascade in metro Seattle area. Love this system. We have a tall side of the house. Sister-in-law a few hours south of us mentioned bugs were drawn to it and so had to plant it away from the house. Any info on this?

    5. Todd,

      I did not locate a stud. just drilled a pilot hole and screwed the hook in. It is something like 1/2 inch plywood for my eves – has held for 4 years so far. I figured if it ever did pull out, I would use those spring loaded ceiling anchors (whatever they are called). Not sure on the weight, but guessing around 20 pounds per rope.

    6. todd says:

      I’m wondering about your pulley setup. Did you locate a stud beneath your siding to hang the pulley from? How did you find the stud? How heavy do the bines get? I want to try this, but am having difficulty locating studs and don’t want to just put it into the wood siding.

    7. Nila,
      It doesn’t hurt to try – not much invested in time or money. I am interested in how these grow for you. Keep us posted.

    8. Nila Helmig says:

      First time trying to grow hop vines; not necessarily for the hops themselves, but for covering some unsightly structures in my small yard. Most of the day there is shade, with only a couple of morning sunshine hours. Since Idaho is known for its hops, I think the soil is okay although I haven’t tested it. Hey, if I live in Fruitland, everything must grow, right? I bought 2 plants, approximately 2′ in height, from a well-known nursery in Oregon, and, since I do have a green thumb, I’m giving it a try, next to the house. I’ll admit, when I bought the plants, I wasn’t even thinking about all the sun they would need! I’ll let you know what happens as I embark on this trial.

    9. Still alive and kicking! I recommend a pulley system for ease of harvesting and easily re-raising the bines allowing the bines to continue storing energy post harvest for the crown / rootstock (especially first year hops). Although my experiment showed very little hop cones production on the loops of hop bines. The hop cones mostly appeared above the hose hangers I looped them on (about where they would naturally occur). Although I did achieve bine length 6 – 8 feet longer than without, the results showed no additional hop cone harvest.

      I am interested in trying a spiral approach. I have not figured out how I want to achieve this yet. I want an upward angle steep enough so I would not need to train the hop bines daily to stay on the ropes, especially when they are above reach without a ladder. If I figure something out I wish to try this year, I will post it on the blog. 2010 second year hops should rock – posts and pics will be coming! Thanks for the inquiry!

    10. wiscobiscuit says:

      Hope this link’s still alive. Starting to plan for my first hop plant (probably looking at a Willamette, fwiw) and I’m really intrigued by your pulley system. Did it work as hoped, producing crazy-long bines by paying out more rope?

    11. Generally, yes, you harvest all at once. That is the beauty of this setup. The hop bines can be gently lowered, hop cones picked and if some are not quite ripe, raised again and allowed to mature. Kind of a Juan Valdez thing – “we shall pick no hop cone before it’s time” – ok, dating myself here. It’s from an old Folgers commercial regarding picking coffee beans. Having your own hops allows you to pick the finest hop flowers at their peak maturity for the best damn beer or ale in the world (assuming you have homebrewing skills).

    12. namabeer says:

      hey good idea .
      I am wondering , when harvesting , do all the cones get harvested in one go , or are they harvested little by little as the cones come into maturity , like berries .

      if you need to harvest several times over a period of time , then I imagine you will have to be very careful not to damage the plants at the base as you lower them and raise them . a group effort perhaps .

      really interested to hear a follow up !

    13. Unless you have male hop plants or local male hop plants, they should not be cross pollinating. Even if they did cross-pollinate, they will retain their original variety and only new seed from the cross-pollinated hop cones, if allowed to grow, would become mutts. My experience is only female rhizomes are sold (unless you specify otherwise – only a large scale grower may attempt this). If you started from seed, then you would have issues with male plants. Just like an Amazonian female tribe or a marijuana operation – kill the males (I read that in a book 😉 ). There is the possibility that the rhizomes, if planted too close together, may be intermingling but retaining their variety – just mixed bines.

    14. DobroD says:

      This is the second year. Started with Chinook, Hallertau and Willamette but they are cross pollinating like crazy so they are just mutts now. Since each plant is either male or female guess you should only plant a single variety in the same area to keep varieties pure.

      I learned that after planting them : )

    15. DobroD – NICE. Great setup and healthy to boot! How long have they been established? What varieties? I look forward to seeing pictures as they fill out and load up with hop cones.

    16. DobroD says:

      My hops just went nuts over the past two weeks. I have a walkout basement with a deck above and just the right exposure. I can observe and harvest them them from the deck. Really works out great! I just put some new pics up on

    17. Stuart says:

      I like that idea. I only have about 10 feet so maybe I might try this method as well.

    18. Thanks, just trying to utilize a small space and get the most bang for the buck. Your hops will catch up, water every day until they are established. Compost tea is excellent for any plant, your hops will be happy. 19 rhizomes / 8 or 9 varieties, you sure are ambitious! I would like to see pictures of your setup. Triangular shape? teepee style or cabled together at the top and ropes from ground to cable? Best of luck to you.

    19. jay says:

      looks like pretty awesome system. I am a bit jealous of your growth so far, but i only got my rhizomes in the ground last sunday (may 17) 19 rhizomes in total with about 8 or 9 varieties. i put up 3 cedar posts at about 12.5 feet above ground. they are in a triangular shape amidst the rest of the garden and are strung together with airplane cable. i will run twine down shortly but need this babies to break ground first. been keeping them irrigated and hit them with some compost tea yesterday. very excited. will post some pics if i can.

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