If you’re a home brewer, there’s nothing more satisfying than growing your own hops. Hops plants produce the flower cone that (along with grain, water, and yeast) is one of the four essential ingredients in beer. However, hops are long, fast-growing vines that require some strategic pruning to get the most out of them. Keep reading to learn more about how to prune a hops plant.
When Should I Prune Hops?
Hops plant pruning starts very soon after the plant emerges from the soil. Hops grow from rhizomes that put out a bunch of vines over the course of the growing season. In the spring, you should have several vines coming out of the same spot. Once they’re between 1 and 2 feet (31-61 cm.) in length, pick three or four of the healthiest vines to keep. Cut all the rest back to the ground.
Train the ones you’ve kept to climb up hanging strings or wires leading to an overhead trellis.
Cutting Back Hops Vines
Hops plant pruning is a process that needs to be kept up throughout the summer if you want your vines to be healthy. Hops are fast growing and tangle easily and pruning hops plants strategically encourages air circulation and seriously discourages disease, bugs, and mildew.
In midsummer, once the vines are firmly attached to the trellis above, carefully remove the foliage from the bottom 2 or 3 feet (61-91 cm.). Cutting back hops vines like this will allow air to pass through more easily and protect the vines from all the problems associated with damp.
To further prevent tangling and dampness, keep pruning hops plants down to the ground whenever they send up new shoots out of the soil. At the end of the growing season, cut the whole plant down to 2 or 3 feet (61-91 cm.) in length to prepare for next year.