Hops have long been cultivated using traditional vertical trellising methods. However, a distinct shift towards growing hops horizontally has emerged in recent years.
It challenges conventional practices and offers a novel approach to hop cultivation.
This innovative technique opens up new possibilities for growers. Let’s uncover the unique advantages, challenges, and considerations that come with this alternative method.
About Hops Plant
What Is It?
Hops (Humulus lupulus) are perennial, climbing plants native to temperate regions.
They are best known for their cone-shaped flowers, or healthy hop cones, which are the primary ingredient in beer brewing.
Beyond brewing, hops have also been used historically for their calming and soothing properties in herbal remedies, and they continue to have applications in herbal medicine and aromatherapy.
The hop plant possesses several key characteristics that define its biology and use in brewing and other applications:
- Perennial Vine: How tall do hops grow? Hops are perennial plants with twining stems that grow upward, often reaching heights of 15 to 20 feet or more. They require support structures, such as trellises or wires, to facilitate their vertical growth.
- Dioecious: Hop plants are dioecious, meaning they have separate male and female plants. Only the female plants produce the hops cones used in brewing, while the male plants produce pollen.
- Varietal Diversity: Numerous hop varieties have unique flavor and aroma characteristics. Brewers select different varieties of hops to achieve specific beer profiles.
- Cultivation Challenges: Hop plants are susceptible to various pests and diseases, including aphids, spider mites, downy mildew, and powdery mildew. Growers need to manage these challenges to maintain healthy hop crops.
- Terroir: Similar to wine grapes, hops can exhibit regional variations in flavor and aroma due to factors such as soil composition, climate, and growing conditions. This concept of terroir adds a layer of complexity to hop characteristics.
Why Is Growing Hops Horizontally Better?
Growing hops horizontally, also known as low trellis or ground hop cultivation, is a unique approach to hop farming that involves training hop bines to grow close to the ground or along a low trellis system.
This method offers several advantages and reasons why some growers cultivate hops horizontally.
How do hops grow if planted horizontally? Horizontal hop cultivation allows hop bines to spread out horizontally along the ground or a low trellis system.
This approach efficiently uses the available ground space, especially in small gardens or areas with limited square footage.
Unlike traditional vertical trellises, which require significant vertical space for hop bines to climb, horizontal trellising doesn’t have the same vertical height restrictions.
This means you can cultivate hops in locations with overhead obstacles, such as low roofs, tree canopies, or other structures where vertical trellises might not be feasible.
In some cases, growers can implement multi-layered or tiered horizontal cultivation, allowing hop bines to grow at different heights above the ground.
Reduced Infrastructure Costs
Horizontal hop cultivation eliminates the need for tall vertical trellis structures, such as poles, wires, and anchor systems, which can be expensive to purchase and install.
Instead, the primary support comes from the ground or a low trellis system requiring fewer materials.
Setting up and maintaining a horizontal cultivation system is often less labor-intensive than installing and managing tall vertical trellises.
The simplified structure reduces the time and effort for construction and maintenance tasks.
Ease Of Harvest
In horizontal hop cultivation, hop bines are trained to grow close to the ground or along a low trellis system.
This positioning brings the hop cones to a more accessible height, typically at or slightly above waist level. Harvest time can be done without the need for ladders or tall equipment.
Harvesting from tall vertical trellises often requires climbing or using specialized equipment to reach the upper portions of the hop bines.
In contrast, horizontal cultivation eliminates the need for climbing, making it a safer and more convenient option.
Moreover, harvesting hops at a lower height reduces the risk of damaging hop cones during picking. Delicate hop cones are less likely to fall or be crushed during harvest, preserving their quality.
Reduced Wind Damage
Horizontal hop bines act as a natural windbreak when trained near the ground or along low trellis systems.
The hop plants create a barrier that can shield the rest of the garden from strong winds, helping protect the hops and other sensitive plants.
This reduces the risk of wind damage to the hop bines, including broken stems or damaged foliage.
This trellis type allows for better airflow around the hop plants. While this benefit is primarily associated with disease prevention, improved airflow can also reduce the impact of strong winds.
It lets the wind pass through the hop plants more easily rather than creating resistance.
How To Grow Hops Horizontally
To grow hops horizontally, it’s important to choose the right site. Then, install sturdy support posts or structures and string horizontal trellis wires or twine to complete the trellis.
This method maximizes space efficiency, accessibility, and ease of maintenance. That’s why it suits smaller gardens and areas with limited space.
Note About Site Selection
When selecting a site for growing hops horizontally, several crucial considerations can significantly impact the success of your hop cultivation project. Here are some key notes to keep in mind:
- Sunlight Exposure: Choose a site that receives ample sunlight, ideally at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sun daily. Avoid locations shaded by buildings, trees, or other structures that can limit sunlight availability. A sunny site is crucial for optimal hop production and quality.
- Well-Drained Soil: Hops thrive in well-drained soil that prevents waterlogged entire roots. Select a site with soil that drains well and avoids areas prone to water pooling or heavy clay soils that retain excess water.
- Air Circulation: Adequate airflow is essential to prevent common hop diseases like mold and mildew. It’s ideal to have a site with good natural ventilation. This helps disperse moisture and maintain a healthy hop canopy.
How To Plant Hops Horizontally? Step-By-Step Instructions
- Install Support Posts or Structures: Like when growing bougainvillea on a trellis, you should plant the support posts or secure them in the ground. This creates a framework for your low trellis system. The spacing between support posts will depend on your desired trellis height and hop plant quantity.
- Attach Fasteners: Install fasteners (e.g., eye screws, hooks) at even intervals along the support posts or structures. These will serve as attachment points for the trellis wires or twine.
- String Trellis Wires or Twine: Run the trellis wires or twine horizontally between the fasteners, creating a series of parallel lines along which the hop bines will grow. Space the lines based on your preference and the available space.
- Monitor and Maintain: Throughout the growing season, monitor the hop plants for pests, bugs eating grass, common diseases, and other issues. Address any problems promptly to ensure a healthy crop.
Some More Trellis Ideas For Hops Support
A flagpole support trellis is a unique method of growing hops where a tall flagpole serves as the central support structure for healthy bines to climb.
This idea requires a tall flagpole at least 20 feet (6 meters) tall to allow sufficient vertical growth for hop bines.
Flagpole support allows hop bines to grow vertically, utilizing the full height of the flagpole. This maximizes the use of vertical space.
It is also suitable for locations with limited horizontal space, such as small gardens or urban settings.
However, a flagpole trellis may not support as many hop plants as a horizontal system due to the vertical growth pattern. This limitation can affect the overall hop yield.
How to grow hops at home? A clothesline support trellis is a simple and cost-effective method for this situation.
This approach involves using a traditional clothesline or wire system to provide vertical support for hop bines.
Setting up a clothesline support trellis is straightforward and requires minimal specialized equipment or expertise. It’s an accessible option for beginner hop growers.
Yet, the height of the clothesline is limited by the supporting structures (e.g., posts or trees). It may restrict the vertical growth potential of hop bines.
House Eave Support
A house eave support trellis is a creative way for planting hops by utilizing the eaves, or roof overhangs, of a building as a vertical support structure for hop bines.
This method provides a sturdy support structure for hop bines. This way, you can cut down costs on additional trellis posts or frames.
To create it, you must install proper attachment points on the building to secure the hop twine or trellis wires.
These attachment points should be capable of withstanding the weight and pull of the growing hop bines.
The proximity to the building can provide some protection from strong winds, reducing stress on the hop bines.
However, hop bines may attach to the building’s exterior, potentially causing damage over time.
Depending on the building’s orientation and shading, some portions of the hop bines may receive less sunlight.
In conclusion, growing hops horizontally offers a practical and space-efficient. This approach optimizes the use of available land, simplifies maintenance tasks, and enhances accessibility to propagate hops.
By carefully considering site conditions and following best practices, hop enthusiasts can harness the advantages of horizontal growth to produce healthy and flavorful hop cones for their brewing endeavors.