Rhizomes- The 7 Steps to Success



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Quality Cascade rhizomes from 3 year old plants at our VA farm.

 

Some farmers are moving towards the use of plants vs rhizomes these days, but for start up farms, back yarders and hobbyist, rhizomes are still an ideal option for growing hops. They are cheap and easily sourced. We started with rhizomes due to the local availability and the cost effectiveness at start up.

Yes, you can actually plant a rhizome incorrectly. Too deep, upside down, over water them, plant too closely together…the list goes on. However, they can actually be very simple to manage, easy to grow and will turn into the most beautiful plants in just a few months. The most imports part is to make sure your hops plant or rhizome has room to climb. The taller the trellis the higher the yield in most cases. If possible use a good sandy soil with adequate drainage. We are going to keep it very simple. Here is the rundown.

 

1. Plant your rhizomes with the eyes and any shoots facing up. This may mean planting vertically. Plant your rhizome a few inches in the ground. Either create a hill or dig a small hole. You can plant similar varieties 3-4 feet apart. Separate varieties 7 feet apart or further.

**Notice the eyes are slightly facing up**

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Notice the eye is facing upwards.

 

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Pen is pointing at the same eye as above. Small, but important to plant with the eye facing up.

 

2. Press the soil firmly to remove any air pockets around the rhizome.

3. Water until the soil is evenly moist. Do not over water. This could rot the rhizome.

4. The buds will soon break the surface and begin looking for something to climb. For most rhizomes, leave all the shoots and let them grow. As they mature over the years, the first shoots will be removed for quite some time. Typically late April or so until you start letting them grow. However, with rhizomes, let all the plant material take off. Of course, if you have one of those massive rhizomes with too many buds, then maybe remove a few.

5. As the plant establishes roots and healthy shoots have sprouted, begin to look at fertilizing. They need a lot of Nitrogen.

6. Begin training the bines to climb the string. String them by wrapping them clockwise around the string. They are coarse and will grab hold of the string no problem. Use untreated string or sisal twine. We use 2 ply sisal. It is easily available and relatively cheap.

7. Grab a beer and enjoy the show. Hops are extremely fast growers. We started our farm with rhizomes and many of them climbed to over 16 feet their first year.

7b. Yeah, we know, its not always that easy. There are disease issues, early cold spells, high winds, too much rain…There are a lot of factors that we have no control of. The ones we do, take care of them. Keep good records of what you see. Take pics of critters, discolored leaves, funky growth and anything else unusual.

 

There are plenty of other great resources out there as well for rhizome treatment. Google is a wonderful tool. Good luck and have fun. They are a lot easier to grow than one might think. Give them a shot and before you know it, you will be on your way to harvesting fresh hops for your next batch of homebrew.

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Digging rhizomes.

 

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How to Take Cuttings From Early Spring Shoots



A great way to expand your yard in the early spring is to take cuttings and root them yourself. It is very easy to do with just a few simple materials. Scissors, potting soil, water and some patience are all you really need.

1- Sharp Scissors. Your cuttings need to be clean and not torn or pinched when taken. A good pair of scissors will do the trick. They tend to do much better than pruning shears.

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2- Let your earliest shoots put out 3 to 4 leaf structures. This will enable you to get several cuttings per shoot.

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3- Gently pull on the shoots. They will have likely developed their own root system. Make your first cut just below the newly developed roots. This will insure at least one successful cutting.

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4- Make your cuts. Take each cutting about 1 inch below the leaf structure. This particular shoot gave us 5 cuttings.

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5- Place your cuttings in moist potting soil or peat moss dishes. (Found at garden centers.) We use plug trays from a local greenhouse supply company.

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Water the cuttings thoroughly. Keep your soil moist but not saturated. On hot, sunny days it helps to mist them slightly a few times. Keeps the stress levels down.

When you are through, you will have a bounty of wonderful baby hops.

After a few weeks roots will have established.

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In about 3-4 weeks, you will have a fully rooted plant. Move this plant into a larger container. Plant it flush to the soil surface.

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Good luck and have fun propagating your own hops cuttings.

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