Many of us will know hops from our love of beer, but hops plants are more than a brewery staple. Many of the cultivars produce lovely ornamental vines which are useful over arbors and trellises. Hops plant propagation is primarily from root cuttings. The rhizomes establish quite quickly and are easy to harvest. Plants started from seed may be capricious and result in only male plants, which will not produce the flowering cones. Planting hops from clippings will result in identical clones to the parent hop plant. Here are some surefire tips on how to propagate hops plants for beautiful vines and copious cones.
Hops Plant Propagation Methods
Approximately 98% of the world’s hops are used in the production of beer. Plants grow from a perennial crown that produces annual shoots, or bines. Bines may grow up to 25 feet (8 m.) in length. Once established, hops are hardy, resilient plants with taproots that penetrate 15 feet (5 m.) into the earth.
Growing hops rhizomes is the quickest method to establish new plants but propagating hops plants from bine cuttings or seed is also possible. Experts agree that planting hops from clippings can be challenging but may be successful if planted immediately after harvest and with several healthy root nodes. Seeds, however, are normally not recommended but can be a fun technique to try.
How to Propagate Hops Plant from Rhizomes
Rhizomes grow from the perennial crown and are similar to roots but root at internodes and sprout quickly, producing new plants in no time. Rhizomes can be found under the soil, usually several inches (8 cm.) from the base of the main parent plant.
Growing hops rhizomes requires well-draining soil and fairly neutral soil pH. Harvest rhizomes for hops plant propagation in late spring and plant immediately. Cut 5 to 6 inches (13-15 cm.) of rhizome with a sharp, sterile knife and plant 2 inches (5 cm.) below the soil surface.
Keep the area moderately moist for a week. Rhizomes should have sent out roots by this time and begun to produce tiny shoots. Keep the plants moist but not soggy and weed free. Once shoots are a couple of inches (5 cm.) high, use stakes or other support to begin training the plants.
Planting Hops from Clippings
You may install new cuttings in late spring or summer. Again, make sure your soil drains well and is fairly neutral in pH. Add lime or sulfur if you need to correct the soil pH and incorporate plenty of compost. Outdoor plants should be installed 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5 cm.) deep and 3 inches (8 cm.) apart. Keep outdoor plants moderately moist and provide new shoots with some sort of support.
Alternatively, root cuttings in individual pots. Use a good sterile potting solution and plant cuttings with at least two root nodes beneath the soil. Cover indoor pots with a plastic bag after moistening the soil. Roots develop quickly and indoor plants should be ready for transplant in two weeks.
Propagating Hops Plants from Seed
Surely someone, somewhere, is growing hops from seed, though it is not recommended. Germination isn’t the problem so much as the sex of the plant. If you want the flowering stems with cone-like blooms, you will need female vines. Males are important for pollen but only if you wish to produce seed.
Should you have some vines that produced seed, by all means, plant them into a flat and see what they will do. You may get male or female plants, but the seeds do well in an average potting mix with moderate moisture and plenty of heat.
For a surefire method of hops propagation, however, cuttings or rhizomes will be faster, establish more robustly and quickly, and the sex of the vine can be determined by the sex of the parent plant.