Hop Rhizome TrimmingBy
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.
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).
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).
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.