Hop Rhizome Trimming



    Hop rhizomes will spread and take over if you do not contain them.  It is the main way hops self propagate as growing from seed is less desirable and most growers only grow female hop plants – no males to pollinate the females.  Only female hop plants produce hop cones, the males are useless unless you are crossbreeding varieties of hops.  The hop rhizomes are root like structures that grow away from the root stock or crown just under the surface of the soil (sometimes on top of the soil).  Buds form on the rhizomes and new hop bines will sprout from these buds.

    Nugget hop rhizome with buds.

    Nugget Hop Rhizome With Buds

    Hop rhizomes are how you grow hops, plant a section of a viable (live) hop rhizome, buds pointing up and in 1 to 4 weeks – you have hop sprouts!  The hop plants I am trimming the hop rhizomes from are third year hops.  The first year you don’t have to worry about rhizomes as the planted rhizome has all it can do to establish it’s root stock (aka crown) and pushing up hop bines.  Second year hops will start sending out rhizomes but they are small and not yet invasive (I had a couple of hop bines pop up within a foot or so from the plant – you simply cut them off at the ground level if you don’t need them).

    Cascade hop rhizomes pulled out of the ground.

    Cascade Hop Rhizome Sections With Buds

    These are third year hop rhizomes.  They are generally smaller than when you buy hop rhizomes online from a hop yard or  home brew store.  I planted these hops in a landscaped area, between my wife’s Peonies (flowers) along the south side of our garage.  I had to dig up rock mulch and plastic – I DO NOT RECOMMEND IT – Pain in the ass.  Not only was planting them a chore, digging up the hop rhizomes sucked.  Trying to dig with rocks in the soil is tough – the area needs to be re-landscaped.  That will be another day (or year).

    Not certain if this picture is roots or rhizomes.

    Hop Roots or Hop Rhizomes?

    I dug down 4 inches in a circle with a radius of 1 foot (I wanted to go 18 inches, but THE DAMN ROCKS made it too big a chore).  Anyway there were obvious hop rhizomes with buds coming out of them.  Then there were roots or budless rhizomes – I could not tell the difference.  I pulled out everything on the outside of the circle on out.  Much of it went under the DAMN LANDSCAPING PLASTIC.  I pulled out as much as I could leaving fragments of rhizomes I am sure.  I think as long as the rhizomes don’t find a hole in the plastic, they will stay underground.  I guess I will find out how far they can go underground before popping up.

    If you are growing hops or considering growing hops, trimming hop rhizomes will be part of the deal eventually.  Not a big deal (without rocks), just use a shovel and cut a circle around the center of the hop crown.  At least a foot away from the crown so you don’t damage the plant.  Don’t forget, you can plant these hop rhizome sections (cut 4 to 6 inch sections) in other areas to grow more hop plants!  You can also give away or trade hop rhizomes for different varieties of hops.  Anyway, the south side of my garage is the only non-shaded southern exposure I have available (Hops like lots of direct sunlight) – that is why I am putting up with the rocks and plastic…

    The moral of the story is: plant in an area without landscape rocks or between other plants if possible.  If it weren’t for my wife’s “favorite Peonies”, I would have dug up all the rock and plastic.  As my hops are planted between her flowers, it would likely damage or kill them if I dug the rocks up (don’t tell her I accidentally pulled out a Peonies root stock when I pulled up what I thought was a hop rhizome – I replanted it).  When I planted my hops, I ensured my wife I would not harm her flowers.  A peace treaty I do not wish to break at this point in time.  If you are on year 3 or later of growing hops and don’t want the spread – time to trim hop rhizomes.

    Categories : Third Year Hops


    1. Ben B says:

      lord jeebus, thank you for a page that actually explains the technique of crown pruning. i was too busy to properly care for my plants last year and it was wet, so i incurred a nasty downy mildew infection. the best advice i’ve found for treating it short of chemicals or replanting was, “prune the crowns,” but this is the first actual description of *how you actually do that* that i’ve found. thank you so much!

    2. […] There is a wiki http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/Hop_cultivation and another article http://growinghopsyourself.com/third-year-hops/hop-rhizome-trimming/ __________________ Donnybrook Brewing Company Primary/Secondary: Rasperry Mead, Oak Aged […]

    3. […] details. If you don't have any rhizomes but are looking for some, check in often, but don't post. A link on how to cut rhizomes GA_googleFillSlotWithSize("ca-pub-3927874040083090", "HomeBrewTalk_Forum_336x280_BTF", 336, 280); […]

    4. Robin says:

      The type of hop plant is written on the wooden frame so I have that covered. I have two little Cascade sprouts peeking out at about 1″ and two Willemette sprouts at about 2″. I think I was addicted before I planted them. My job is growing, nurturing, harvesting, drying and storing. I leave the brewing to my husband. If you are twisted, I am no more so, I talk to mine but I talk to all my plants, they seem to like it and it is like free therapy. I am super excited about the growing season and I think my friends are happy it’s finally here so I will have more to talk about other than just the “hop yard”. Thanks againg and I look forward to following your 3rd year.

    5. Robin,
      Thanks. I am glad I can offer help and inspire. You were paying attention and prepped the soil ahead of time – way to go. Sounds like a nice setup you have – I wish you the best of luck. Keep us posted on your progress and post any questions you may have as a comment as others have the same questions. Hard to explain, but growing hops is like an addiction, you can’t get enough of it – very exciting (or maybe I am just twisted).

      Don’t forget to document what variety you have planted where – it comes up all the time “I didn’t write down what I planted where, how do I identify what variety I have?” – very hard to do without a genetic test.

      I have a lot of info on this blog, but like a blog, it is one long string of posts. Last year I started categories by year – I am on year three of growing hops so this years stuff will be under the category “Third Year Hops”. I am looking at putting together a table of contents which I think will help out – we’ll see.
      Cheers and hop on!

    6. Robin says:

      I am looking forward to your comments, hints and tips this year. Last Fall we created a 3’x18′ bed with a wooden frame. After removing the sod, we tilled the area and added peat moss and organic compost, mixed it all up then evening the ground out. We covered the entire thing with burlap to wait out the winter. On Saturday (4/9) I planted my rhizomes. I’m so excited to finally be at this point. Your enthusiasm is contagious and encouraging. Thank you.


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