Growing hops in containers

6 04 2011

So while waiting for my Blind Pig IPA clone to finish dry hopping, I received my order from MoreBeer.com of hop rhizomes. I ordered Cascade, Nugget, and Chinook. They all came in small bags that I put in the fridge until I found out how to grow these things.

Because we are renting a house, I wanted to try and grow them in containers. I’d hate to just get them going and have to rip them out of the ground in a move. After some basic research, most people were not in favor of growing hops in containers due to their expansive root systems. However, I was able to locate an article on BYO.com by Chris Colby that said it was not only possible, but could be highly successful. After reading that, I was convinced (I mean, everything on the internet is true, right?). It appears the downsides are that it takes a bit more work and the crop yield will be less than in-ground hops. Not a deal breaker.

Here are the initial steps I followed for planting the rhizomes:

Materials

– Hop rhizomes (Cascade, Chinook, Nugget)

– Pots (I opted for three pots at least 21 inches across as to allow for decent root growth)

– Soil (a little over 2 cu. ft. per pot. The article mentioned potting soil as best choice, but I got ‘garden and vegetable’ soil, which seems less like dirt and more like mulch. I guess we’ll see how  that turns out.)

– Trellis (a long 1″x2″x8′ stake makes a good starter. You can always add to it as the hops grow. I am planning on using the existing lattice work and the fence to help prop them up.)

– Liquid Fertilizer (each hop with need about 2 cups of liquid fertilizer per growing season.)

Hops do best when placed in a southern exposure, or one that maximizes all day sun. Here in Piedmont, there should be plenty of sun to grow all three varieties. I placed the pots around the yard based on sun exposure and aesthetics (these may end of being only for show — we’ll see). I then added my soil all the way up to the rim of the pot and formed a little mound in the center. I dug out a trough about 6 inches long and 2-3 inches deep. I planted the rhizomes horizontally with the sprouts pointed toward the surface. Gave it a thorough watering, and celebrated with a beer.

Hopefully, this won’t be my last post about these guys. I’ll post an update when I start seeing some life in the pots.

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