What Are Hops?

With Spring getting closer than you might think, I wanted to start a series of articles on growing hops. If you follow along, you will have the information you need to start your own this Spring, then it is time to plant more hops. It seems to me that the logical question to ask, out of the shoot, is “what exactly are hops?”

Hops, put simply are the female flowers of the Hop plant. The technical name for the plant is humulus lupulus. Most people are familiar with hops, because we like to use them as flavoring in our beer. But here is one for the old hippies in the group: the hop plant is a distant cousin to the hemp plant! We just decided to use it as flavoring, and as a stabilzer, for our beer, versus smoking it!

The hop plant can be very easy to grow, contrary to popular belief. They just need a little love! If you don’t think so, check out my Youtube video on growing hops!

The plant is grown from a rhizome. A rhizome is a small root that is cut from the main root of the female hop plant. You plant these in the Spring to start a new plant. Once they get going, the little buggers can grow as much as a foot a day! Typically, though, the grow around 2 feet a week, til they reach a height of around 12-15 feet. (Good thing to keep in mind when planning on growing hops!)

The plants are vines, and will require something to grow on. Once they reach their maximum height, they will start putting off side shoots, which will actually grow the flowers. They are going to want plenty of sun. They will also want plenty of water. A good growing climate will need around 120 days of frost free weather.

In the next series, we will talk about getting startied growing hops. My plan is to have this series of articles done in time for you to grow your own hops this Spring!

Slainte,

Ray Province

Ray Province is the owner of The Celtic Ozarkian, a website that chronicles Celtic life in the Ozarks. He is an IT programmer by trade, and owns Celtic Ozark Solutions. He enjoys free lance writing, fly fishing, home brewing, and gardening. You can reach him at contactus@celticozarkian.com, or @celticozarkian on Twitter.

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