Companion planting has been in practice for generations. Companion planting has benefits such as securing nitrogen, repelling pests, and even as a support for other plants. Companion planting with hops can enhance crop growth and provide a decoy for pesky critters. A note of caution, however, hop vines are aggressive growers and their vigorous vines can choke out many less tenacious plants. Hops companion plants need to be considered carefully.
What Not to Plant near Hops
As you contemplate starting hops rhizomes, you should consider what to plant with hops and what not to plant near hops. The hop vines will likely crowd out many other plants, as they rapidly develop. Hops companion plants will need to be at least a foot (30 cm.) away and vines should be kept pruned to avoid smothering the other plants.
Any plant that likes full sun, plenty of water, and doesn’t mind being clambered over can be grown with hops. There are those plants, though, which have allelopathic properties and should be planted well away from hops. Allelopathy is when a plant releases chemicals that delays other plant growth or even kills them.
It is a useful adaptation which keeps competitive weeds away from the allelopathic plant. Some allelopathic plants are used in this way in crop situations such as peas, sorghum, and rice. Still others are not suitable to use around other plants because they will either kill them or make them sickly. Black walnut is a commonly known example of this.
What to Plant with Hops
Hops plant companions, such as corn, have similar cultural requirements and are sturdy enough to withstand some vines tangling around them once they are full sized.
Hops will die back in winter, so an evergreen clematis would make a great companion plant. They can share the same trellis or lattice and when the hops die back, the evergreen clematis can take center stage.
Pairing two different hops strains can make a beautiful presentation. The variety ‘Aureus’ is a golden leaved plant that looks especially beautiful twined with standard green varieties.
Having herbs and plants, like marigolds, nearby can help attract beneficial insects, such as bees and repel pest insects such as cucumber beetles.
- Chives– Chives planted near hops seem to keep aphids away from cones and new shoots.
- Coriander– Coriander can repel spider mites and aphids, which often plague hops vines.
- Anise– Anise is another good plant to try companion planting with hops. The pungent scent deters many pests and the plant is a host for predatory wasps, which will eat sap sucking aphids.
- Yarrow– Yarrow increases the vigor of plants nearby, while attracting ladybugs and beneficial wasps. The leaves of yarrow are also an excellent fertilizer when composted around hops or made into a tea.
Each of these is a vigorous enough plant for base crops and has different benefits to the hops as well as uses in the kitchen and natural medicine cabinet.