Hop plant maintenance, what you need to know.
If you are a lazy gardener, hops are pretty great. They really want left to do their own thing. With a structure to climb up and good weather there isn’t much that can stop them. But there are still ways you can care for your hop, especially depending on the weather, pests and conditions of your garden.
Weather is important in many ways. Hops are a native species, even if some variants aren’t, so are pretty well suited to our climate. Like many plants it is extremes that they suffer from.
In the spring and summer your hop plant may need a daily water, but this is of course depending on the weather. If it is an average summer they are only going to need a sprinkle every day, but in more intense heats they might require half a watering can. The opposite problem also exists, you don’t want to be planting the hop in a water logged area as it will result in root rot. So if you know a part of your garden can suffer from this it isn’t the best place for your hop.
Extreme heat may also result in the leaves becoming scorched. You will notice the leaf wilting or gaining brown spots if this is happening. There really isn’t much you can do to combat this, simply make sure the plant stays watered and it should pull through. It would take truly intense heat for it to actually kill the plant.
Come the winter your hop plant will die back. This is just part of the natural life of a hop plant, come spring it will begin to grow back again. There is little you can do for it at this point, but cutting it back to keep everything tidy is not a bad idea. Frost is the biggest issue you will face so again make sure the area does not become water logged. If you want to plant your hop around this time, try and choose a good week where the ground will be soft for a while.
You may choose to keep your hop potted, either from a lack of space or so you can move it around. Hops can live quite happily in a pot, but you want to make sure it is a fair size. Our hops come in a 9cm pot, while they can live through winter in these they will want to be moved onto something bigger afterwards. You may also choose to add some fertilizer, hops certainly benefit from some but you don’t need to be regularly piling on handfuls.
Like any plant hops can suffer from pests and disease. To look out for these the first place you should look is the leaves. Check over and under a few for off colours, spots, holes or bugs. If you notice this it is best to do a quick search to make sure what you are dealing with. The answer may often be the need for pesticides, which you must be careful about using if you plan on harvesting the hop cones. Otherwise it is a case of brushing off pests and general care for the plant.
Most importantly, pay attention to your hop. It can’t talk (unless you had a few beers) but just like any living thing there are signs if it is doing well or not. If your hop plant looks healthy then just keep on doing what you were before.