Overwinter Hop Plants


    Overwinter Protection for Nugget Hops

    Overwinter Protection for Nugget Hops

    Overwinter Magnum Hop Plants

    Overwinter Magnum Hop Plants

    In cold climates it is important to overwinter hop plants / protect them from sub-zero temperatures.  Hops do fairly well on their own but can be killed off if the ground is unprotected and hard freezes the ground.  Snow will insulate the ground but occasionally the snow will be blown clear or animals may dig the snow away from the underground hop crowns (started as hop rhizomes).

    Protect Hop Crowns

    Protect Cascade Hop Crowns

    No sense taking any chances of losing your hop plants to the weather.  All it takes is a layer of mulch – I used 6 inches of leaves and grass I bagged while mowing.  This also helps in the Minnesota climate to keep the ground cold enough in the spring to prevent hop sprouts from sprouting too soon and then freeze.  Generally they will send up new shoots if the first hop shoots freeze and die off but why waste the root stock energy.

    When sub-freezing temperatures have past in the spring, You just clear the mulch and and the hop crown will send up shoots as the ground warms.

    Unless you want the hops to spread in all directions, you will want to trim the hop rhizomes by digging down and cutting the lateral running rhizomes and pull them up.  You can plant these in other areas if you wish or give or sell them to friends and fellow hop growers and homebrewers.  I will be cutting the rhizomes about a one foot radius from the center of the crown (two foot diameter to contain the hop plants).  They are self propagating and will travel in all directions from the crown.

    One problem with not containing the spread of hops is they will soon mix with other nearby varieties and can be hard to distinguish variety and/or you will have 2 or more variety of hop bines growing together and makes harvesting and separating the different varieties of hop cones difficult if not impossible.  My varieties are 5 to 6 feet apart so with a little effort, I can keep them separate.  You need to know which hops are which for accurate beer and ale recipes.  You especially do not want to mix bittering hops with aroma hops.

    That’s it, just a layer of mulch – leaves, grass, hay, straw or compost to protect the hop crowns and the organic material will also leach into the ground as an organic fertilizer.  Next years hop yield will be even better!

    Categories : Growing Hops


    1. I would have to do some checking around for those answers. My gut feeling is fertilizer would not help much during the dormant stage. Unless you use compost as your fertilizer (slow release…). 6 inches might be too much additional soil to add at one time. Maybe try 2 or 3 inches a year for 2 or 3 years. I add an inch or 2 of compost on top of the soil every year then cover with a couple inches of leaves. Spring time I brush aside the leaves to let the sun warm the compost/soil.
      Those are my thoughts. If I come across any other info on this, I will update the post.

    2. Stoop Dogg says:

      I live in Upstate New York.

      Should I add any fertilizer to the soil before The it snows? Also, my hops are in raised beds, I want to make them about 6” highr, should I just add the soil now to help protect the crown, or is that too much for the dormant plant to grow through?

    3. I have heard of people burying hop bines and derived live shoots the same season (I have not done this myself). That makes sense to me as I understand you can root cuttings of bines. I don’t know if the dead bine would have enough energy stored in the nodes that would sprout for the next season. I believe burying bines with enough of a growing season left to help establish roots/rhizomes and new bines from the viable nodes to gather energy for the next season is the best bet.

      If anyone has experience in this, let us know. Unfortunately, where my bines are planted, I have limited space and rock mulch that would make it very difficult for me to try. Downdraft or others, I am very interested in any findings if you have done this or will try it at the end of this growing season. Please let us know because I am sure many are interested in this. Thanks for bringing this question up.

    4. Downdraft says:

      I understand rhizomes…and have dug for them and propagated new vines

      What I would like to find out is: Can I also rot new plants from “bines” or more mature shoots that grow around he crowns above ground.

      I usually prune these off when they get unruly during the season because they take away the energy from the growth of hips climbing up the trellis…then toss them away from the site.

      But what-if…after harvest, and perhaps in the Fall when I start preparing the crowns for winter protection with leaves, dirt, etc that I also cover the mature “suckers’ that spread from the ground on all sides…then come Spring I ccan uncover them and use as bines/rhizomes which would be more mature for propagating new plants …there would not only be stronger, but more???



    5. Frances,
      Once the foliage dies off (assuming it does indoors, as the perennial hops are), cut the bines off just above ground level. Your varieties of hops are Williamette and Northern Brewer. Once the threat of frost has passed in the spring, plant them in a sunny location with vertical space.

      I would prep the ground now and give it a chance to break down organic matter. Just dig a hole at least a foot deep and 2 feet in diameter, mix with the dirt, grass, leaves, compost and/or composted manure. I mulch the surface with leaves and grass from my mowing to protect the hop crowns and leech nutrients into the soil. When you plant the plants (or rhizomes), mound the soil to help prevent drowning the roots in heavy rains… Let us know how the plants do over winter and once planted – thanks.

    6. frances says:

      Thank you very much for your suggestion. It kind of resolves my gut feeling of wintering them in the house. Seems the safest way to do it. and I do not mind doing this. I have plenty of room inside and out to grow them. I am not real happy that my son choose plants, instead of rhizomes . This is where I become confused. bulbs [lack of words] I understand.l Should I trim back the stems? or wait until spring? the hop plants are willametter? I think some 0f the ink is a bit blurred. The other plant is Volthern bewser? It is hard to see the lettering, so that is my best gusess. my son does not seem to care if the plants do not survive; yet I truly want for them to grow & be plentiful…. any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
      Thanks, Fran hunter

    7. Fran,
      I am not certain. Planting in the spring is recommended. As perennials, I would think you would want them to go dormant over winter and that may or may not happen indoors. It may be best to put them in pots and let them go dormant in a garage or shed but potted plants don’t do well in extreme cold (below zero) – then plant in the spring. You could try one in the ground, one in a pot and see what happens. Where did he get them from? – Where he bought them should have advice as they sell them this time of year. If someone that has experience with this chimes in or If I get any info, I will keep you posted.

    8. frances says:

      My son, just ordered two hop plants, they are not rhizomes It is almost the end of Sept. here in ohio. Should I plant them outside, or put them in pots and winter them in the house? Thanks, fran

    9. Steve,
      I don’t think you can keep them over the winter wet and in plastic bags. It works short term (say a month), but I have had them mold/mildew and go bad while storing in the refrigerator (you can bleach minor mold off of hop rhizomes). I would put them in dirt and keep them outside over winter. If you are in a harsh winter zone like I am (gets to 20 degrees below zero fahrenheit or colder, you need to protect them from those extreme cold temps. Root celler, insulated with leaves, grass…

    10. Steve says:

      I had some hops growing in my Mom’s backyard and since she has passed away and we will be selling the property, I dug up some of the rhizomes to plant in my yard next spring. Since this is normally done in the Spring, what can I do now to give these rhizomes a better chance of surviving the winter? Right now I have the cuttings wrapped in wet newspaper and in plastic bags. Should I plant them temporarily in potting soil over the winter?

      Thank you,


    11. mike says:

      yeah no doubt. vikes are tearing it up. enjoy seeing both peterson and farve.

    12. Hey Mike,
      Not sure how cold Pittsburgh gets, but I would think a couple inches of mulch would protect your hop crowns in the ground. I would either move your container hop plant to a protected, slightly warmer area – garage… Otherwise I would find a way to insulate it – surround with leaf bags, mulch on top… The hop root stock is especially vulnerable above ground as there is no insulation and the cold will hit it from all sides.

      Yeah, Surly is a state treasure. I have been a fan since day one. Many a Surly tour, Surlyfest, Surly Darkness pilgrimages (actually hit the liquor stores this year! (local anyway)). Summit EPA is my everyday ale and another Minnesota beer/ale to be proud of. What about those Vikings heh?

    13. mike says:

      I am from MN originally so I know what you mean with this. I only have a few inches of mulch on my first years but I am in pittsburgh so I think it will be ok. The one I am leaving out in a pot on the other hand…..
      Well I guess we will see.

      Also I liked seeing the post on Surly. I have not had much of that in a while. Also Summit EPA. Great beer in the cities.

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