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Help with Hop Planters

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TrickyDick

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Howdy!

Been on about 5 year hiatus from homebrewing.
Hop plants died out.
Had 4 cheap half-barrel planters that broke apart, and now have actual half wine barrels I want to use to plant in.
They are water tight, so I'll probably need to drill drainage holes? Not sure what to do.
In Florida, it gets hot and my irrigation system is prone to failure. Having a Large container I'm wondering if maybe less drainage might be better.
These are legit old wine barrels and quite heavy duty. The old ones were fake half barrels I found online.

I've previously grown Cascade, Chinook, Columbus or Centennial and the fourth plant always died because it was getting hit with the airflow from an AC air handler it was planted next to. I'm thinking it may be unavoidable. Chinook did the best, but the cascade and Centennial/Columbus (I'd alternate when one would die) needed to be replaced every couple years.

I also recall some mushroom pellets I put into the old planters supposedly helped. Not sure if thats a gimmick or not.

Any suggestion on how to prepare the planter, and what to use for potting and mulch would be greatly appreciated.

TD
 

AJinJacksonville

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I'm up in Jacksonville and just planted Cascade rhizomes about two and a half weeks ago. I did two rhizomes in a raised bed with Sta-Green potting soil and well till soiled underneath, and then I did the other in a 24 inch half barrel (plastic but solid). Oh, and I did add some manure/compost mixed in. I drilled multiple holes in the bottom of the planter for drainage, and used the same potting soil. So far, all three are loving it and shooting up bines. I figure that before Tuesday, I will have to start training them on the twine.

As for mulch, I plan on spreading some pine needles around to give it some insulation and weed deterrent. Good luck!
 

friarsmith

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Drainage, drainage, drainage... No variety of hops thrives with wet feet. Of the four C's you listed, Cascade and Chinook will probably fare the best in planter pots. Regardless of the planter pot size (within reason) the roots will get crowded out after two seasons or so, so you need to be mean and split the root crown every two springs.

Regarding a potting soil mix, I've had success with a 50/50 blend of "Potting Soil" and "Garden Soil" from big box retailers. Definitely drill holes in your planter pots, and when you water them, make sure to water enough so some runs out the bottom. This will ensure salts don't build up in the pot.

Cluster is also a good variety to grow in planter pots. I've grown hops for over 15 years in the West and Midwest in very different climates, and it's by far the least fussy, most robust, and most productive variety no matter what I throw its way...

Good luck!

PS Drainage! :)
 
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TrickyDick

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Thanks! For me, the effort and expense of growing hops is much like other gardening endeavors. The freshness of the product is what is in it for me as well as the unmatched flavor vs store bought produce in most cases. For hops, the delicate oils and aromas when used as dry hops or flame-out or whirlpool hops seems to me to be the only real reason to attempt to grow them at all. This being said, I've wasted a crap ton of effort and time to yield the barest minimal amount of use from this aspect of the "hobby". How is the aroma/flavor character of Cluster? I am not sure I've noticed it in many commercial beers or used it maybe only once in any homebrew. I just don't have the experience with it to know I want to plant it and commit to that Sooas one of four possibilities for something I rarely use. It could be awesome, I just don't know. Maybe worth a try for a season just for the heck of it.

I've often tried growing a noble hop variety but they always do poorly. Any varieties that work well? Especially in hotter climates like FL?

Thanks for the suggestions! I'll be sure to drill a bunch of holes in the half-barrels, and maybe throw some lava rock or pebbles or something into the bottom too. Going to take a LOT to fill all the planters for sure. each one is about 15-20 gallons I estimate. Do hops like Perlite + Coco-husk planting media does anyone know?

TD
 

CodeSection

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....Thanks for the suggestions! I'll be sure to drill a bunch of holes in the half-barrels, and maybe throw some lava rock or pebbles or something into the bottom too. Going to take a LOT to fill all the planters for sure. each one is about 15-20 gallons I estimate. Do hops like Perlite + Coco-husk planting media does anyone know? TD
My grandfather taught me not to put any gravel or rocks in the bottom of planters as it hurts the root system. Since he and his brother used to farm 2000 acres, I just took his advice without question. Then, when I started working at a nursery when I was 12 years old, one old employee of the nursery tried telling customers the same thing. He said most did not take his advice as they couldn't understand it.

Below are a few links that you may find useful...

https://todayshomeowner.com/garden-myth-putting-gravel-in-pots-and-containers/

https://homeguides.sfgate.com/pots-need-gravel-bottom-92387.html

https://www.readersdigest.ca/home-garden/gardening/potted-plant-secrets/
 
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TrickyDick

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Ok then, so NO on the rocks.

so 50:50 Potting soil:Garden soil and that's it. Maybe some pine needle mulch. Pretty popular in FL, I think because it deters weeds.

Any recommendations on where to buy larger crown type hops, not some puny Rhizome the size of a pencil?

Thanks!
TD
 

Sylvain

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I have already contacted GLH, they do not send to France. I am sad. I dream of having Multihead at home
 
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TrickyDick

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GLH sure does have a large variety, many I've never heard of before. Definitely need to give them a call.

By the way, any recommended fertilizer to add to the containers?? Probably should be good to go for the first season I would imagine, but just in general?

Going to be a project. Need to drill the barrels for drainage and place some landscape cloth on the bottom. Each half barrel hols 4 cu ft of filler I'm told. I'll have to figure it out.

TD
 

CodeSection

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GLH sure does have a large variety, many I've never heard of before. Definitely need to give them a call.

By the way, any recommended fertilizer to add to the containers?? Probably should be good to go for the first season I would imagine, but just in general?

Going to be a project. Need to drill the barrels for drainage and place some landscape cloth on the bottom. Each half barrel hols 4 cu ft of filler I'm told. I'll have to figure it out.

TD
I am no expert here. This is my first attempt to grow hops and I have been relying upon a lot of reading of universities published papers, viewing YouTube and reading HBT members postings. Here is a link I started that you might find useful. https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/nitrogen-levels-seaweed.676575/

In the past two weeks, I have fertilized the hop plants twice with a seaweed solution. Then last Monday, I fertilized with a weak/indoor plant recommended Miracle Grow 16-8-8 application. This application was diluted so as not to shock/burn the roots. I plan on increasing the amount in about 7-10 days.

My plants are only in 2.25-2.5 quart size containers. Once the roots establish more, I will transplant them again into large 15 gallon grow bags that have a 20" diameter and have a height of 14".
 

Abejazon

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This year is my first attempt at growing hops. I wish I would have found you all sooner! I’m near Sacramento, CA and would appreciate any and all feedback for getting these rhizomes going.
I am limited to containers and am going with a mix of 5/10/15 gallon smart pots (thinking I’ll need to ditch 5 gal).
I ordered half of my rhizomes (2 Cascade, 2 Tahoma, 2 Comet) from buyhoprhizomes.com. They arrived and were planted on April 18.
I have another order from FreshHops (2 Centennial, 2 Hallertauer, 2 Sorachi Ace) that will arrive soon.
Super excited to grow...but my late night Google research sessions have led me down a whole other series of rabbit holes. I think I want to be a home hop breeder now...this forum has been inspiring. On hopefully an even smaller scale than those of you here, I dream of uncovering/developing a hop variety for myself. How can I get that started this year? Would I be able to find hop pollen before any of my girls think about flowering? Or would I be able to grow a male from seed that would flower in time for my girls?
 

Dave Sarber

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Hey @Ruint, @Dave Sarber and others, I came across this YouTube video where this farmer swears this is the best solution to grow about anything in a container. Do you have any thoughts on it? My concern is the summer heat in southern AZ.....

We'll, I'm deaf, and that video is not closed captioned. I have no idea what this guy is trying to do.
 

Dave Sarber

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Ok, still haven't listened to it, but basically he's wicking water up from underneath the soil, which encourages deep roots. But, the way I see it, there is no drainage. The water can turn sour. If you're using tap water, the impurities can build up in the bottom of the container. Look in the bottom of a swamp cooler.
The other thing is that everything I've read about growing hops stresses good drainage, they don't like wet roots, which can lead to root fungus.
I use a similar sized container, about 18" cut off the bottom of a plastic 55 gal barrel. I drill about 15 or 20 3/8" drain holes in the bottom, then place it on bricks to keep it off the ground (and allow drainage). Fill with organic mulch/garden soil and plant your rhizome. Build a frame from wood or PVC, and run twines from the top of the frame to the edges of the barrel. I just drill 3/16" holes in the top edge of the barrel and tie them off there. I don't use twine, I use 1/16" diameter paracord. The bines don't seem to care, when I lean a bine against a cord, it spirals right on up.
 

Abejazon

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Hey @Ruint, @Dave Sarber and others, I came across this YouTube video where this farmer swears this is the best solution to grow about anything in a container. Do you have any thoughts on it? My concern is the summer heat in southern AZ.....

I think it could still work for you but you would then probably have to insulate your containers so they don’t overheat. My lady gets these frozen smoothies shipped and I’ve started saving the insulated bag to maybe use during hot days...but then I’m thinking I’ll have to take it off at night to let the roots breathe a bit in my smartpots/fabric pots.
 

Ruint

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1 thing.....you might be underestimating the growth of the root system. I like those planters in the fact that it lets you utilize more of the water that you are using for that purpose. It is great for tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and other garden vegetables. Hops are anything but garden vegetables. Their root system is not shallow like you might think. The tap root will grow deep, like 16 to 18 feet down. It does have other roots that spread out for absorption of water closer to the surface. These are where the rhizomes come from. It may make you think that these are the main roots, because after the plant establishes itself, they are numerous and get to be fairly significant. Whether you have hops in the ground, or in a planter, the tap root is going to grow. You could probably do alright in those planters for the 1st year, maybe even the second. Eventually though, you will suffer. Either by having issues of being root bound, or worse, having the roots soaking in the bottom....rotting. The hops plant doesn't know that you have it contained, nor does it care. It is just going to do it's own thing. Try to grow, survive, and propagate it's existence. Just my 2 cents worth...
 

CodeSection

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Thanks guys for your inputs...you make great points. I will stick with the 15 gallon grow bags and it sounds like I will be transplanting them within a couple of years to a more permanent place.

Speaking of transplanting, I planted the plants in 2.25-2.5 quart containers and the plants with the exception of one have been growing really well. It has been three weeks since those plantings and I have been looking every day at the bottom of the containers to see if any roots are showing which would tell me it was ok to transplant into the 15 gallon grow bags.

I haven't seen any roots around the drain holes. Should I wait maybe another week or do you believe the roots have established enough to transplant without loosing the soil that is currently around them now?
 

Dave Sarber

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Thanks guys for your inputs...you make great points. I will stick with the 15 gallon grow bags and it sounds like I will be transplanting them within a couple of years to a more permanent place.

Speaking of transplanting, I planted the plants in 2.25-2.5 quart containers and the plants with the exception of one have been growing really well. It has been three weeks since those plantings and I have been looking every day at the bottom of the containers to see if any roots are showing which would tell me it was ok to transplant into the 15 gallon grow bags.

I haven't seen any roots around the drain holes. Should I wait maybe another week or do you believe the roots have established enough to transplant without loosing the soil that is currently around them now?
Do it now. Never mind the taproot, the "horizontal" roots need space to grow.
EDIT: by the time you see roots at the bottom of the pot, you'll already be root bound.
 

Abejazon

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Great insight! Much appreciated!

For me, I’m hoping to parlay this into a home hop breeding adventure. So I’m not planning to keep any crowns from this starter group longer than I need to start producing some seeds...but you never know. I would invest in a significantly larger fabric pot (50-100 gal.) for any plants kept long term.

Space (and my lady) are limiting factors for our already landscaped residential plot. But I do think there is a lot of potential to grow from containers here. There’s a south-facing covered RV parking area that seems like the perfect spot for a row of hops.

How small of a container could I use and still support a 1st and 2nd year rhizome? Would a 5 gal. for a small rhizome cutting be considered cruel and unusual come end of summer?
 

Dave Sarber

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I'd go as big as you can. For short term, look at width of pot vs. depth. I think most 5 gallon pots are too tall and narrow.
For longer term, and a good location, I'd go with a raised bed, mainly due to the poor soil where I live.
 

Apimyces

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I use a lot of 2 gallon pots. It's clearly not enough for mature plants, but you can still get them to flower in them. Space and cost being considerations, it's a lot more manageable in 2 gallon pots than larger. But yea they'll be rootbound pretty quickly in them.
 

Abejazon

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I use a lot of 2 gallon pots. It's clearly not enough for mature plants, but you can still get them to flower in them. Space and cost being considerations, it's a lot more manageable in 2 gallon pots than larger. But yea they'll be rootbound pretty quickly in them.
Does that mean you’re cutting down the crown every winter?
Or do you just repot to something larger when needed?
I just got my second batch of rhizomes (2 Centennial, 2 Hallertauer, and 2 Sorachi Ace). Got them potted in a mix of 5/10/15 gal smartpots. With this group I added mycorrhizal inoculant.
But these rhizomes (from FreshHops) look a lot healthier and robust than the ones I got from buyhoprhizomes.
 
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Northern_Brewer

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I've often tried growing a noble hop variety but they always do poorly. Any varieties that work well? Especially in hotter climates like FL?
They all do well "at home" - but they just expect more water, less heat, and longer daylengths than you get somewhere like Florida. You're at the limits of the latitudes hops will grow at (35-55°N is generally quoted as the latitude range for commercial growing, Orlando is 28°N), so enjoy all those tropical plants you can grow and just be grateful for the temperate hops that will tolerate your conditions. You're better off looking at hops with neomexicanus heritage, which will cope much better.

Having said that, ISTR there's been discussions here of someone (?in the Carolinas?) having more success with some of the US "nobles" - Liberty or Sterling or something like that, I can't remember.
 

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These large (20 gal?) terra cotta pots seem to work well with Cascade. This is the third year she's been here climbing this gazebo-like structure. I'm stoked on the added tomato cage this year. Much more manageable when I've got like 15 bines attacking.
 
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CodeSection

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I just read a BYO article (Growing Hops: Tips from the Pros by Dave Wills, Freshops in Philomath, OR) in which the author writes "At the end of the season you can bury healthy bottom vines for propagating new plants the next spring. Simply bury the vines in a shallow trench and mark their location. In spring dig them up and cut them into pieces about four inches (10.2 cm) long. Make sure each new cutting has an eye or bud."

If my hop plants grow in the AZ heat, after harvesting the cones (any cones), I was planning to throw the bines and coir into the compost. Is the author writing about the lower part of the bines or is he writing about about the small growth at the bottom of the hop plant? Whichever it is, is really that simple of a process to propagate hop plants?
 

Dave Sarber

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I just read a BYO article (Growing Hops: Tips from the Pros by Dave Wills, Freshops in Philomath, OR) in which the author writes "At the end of the season you can bury healthy bottom vines for propagating new plants the next spring. Simply bury the vines in a shallow trench and mark their location. In spring dig them up and cut them into pieces about four inches (10.2 cm) long. Make sure each new cutting has an eye or bud."

If my hop plants grow in the AZ heat, after harvesting the cones (any cones), I was planning to throw the bines and coir into the compost. Is the author writing about the lower part of the bines or is he writing about about the small growth at the bottom of the hop plant? Whichever it is, is really that simple of a process to propagate hop plants?
Yes.
 
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TrickyDick

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Waiting for my hop plants from GLH, shipped already. Got my planters all prepped. I drilled like 13 holes and laid landscape paper/tarp over that and added 50:50 potting and garden soils (4cu ft per planter). Mixed it up and put pine needle mulch on top. Got an drip irrigation timer, will set at 1 gallon per day initially and go from there? When I dug up old planters which had rotted to pieces nearly, I found my Chinook had grown through the bottom of the old planter and had begin to grow. Too bad I tore that one out, but it was a good 8 years old. All others had died. I really only have on option for growing space/location where I live so I try to make the best out of it. Went with all American "C" type hops and skip the noble stuff. Use for flavor and aroma only since I won't be sending for analysis. Will see how I do this year. I moved the Cascade planter where it will get more sun, but the planters had to be moved because the new planters were bigger and the hops were already crowded. Will take some pics through the season as things progress.
This year I use Cascade Centennial Chinook Columbus. I alphabetize the order of the planters so I'll remember which hop variety is in which planter from left to right, because the labels from the hop farm always get sun bleached in FL. I skipped the Neo Mexican stuff because I'm using planting and garden soil mix not sandy native ground soil. Plus, I didn't like the idea of investing all this time money and effort for something I don't even know if I'll like or not. Maybe if a commercial beer that I could try used them so I could see if I liked it not. Speak up if you know of any such commercial beer.
TD
 

FullThrottle64

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Does that mean you’re cutting down the crown every winter?
Or do you just repot to something larger when needed?
I just got my second batch of rhizomes (2 Centennial, 2 Hallertauer, and 2 Sorachi Ace). Got them potted in a mix of 5/10/15 gal smartpots. With this group I added mycorrhizal inoculant.
But these rhizomes (from FreshHops) look a lot healthier and robust than the ones I got from buyhoprhizomes.
What did you get from buyhoprhizomes, and how did they turn out? I ordered (26) Crystal rhizomes from them, and am still waiting from the delivery......?
 

FullThrottle64

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Hey, good luck on your 30 acre farm! How is exciting is that!
Absolutely! If the first couple of rows go well, we'll start looking at converting to a much larger hops production.

There is plenty of beer production in our area, so the market isn't a problem nearly as much as my agronomic abilities and my wife's willingness to allow the investment in the infrastructure (trellising). We have several natural springs on the property, so irrigation is also easy and relatively inexpensive.
 

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1 thing.....you might be underestimating the growth of the root system. I like those planters in the fact that it lets you utilize more of the water that you are using for that purpose. It is great for tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and other garden vegetables. Hops are anything but garden vegetables. Their root system is not shallow like you might think. The tap root will grow deep, like 16 to 18 feet down. It does have other roots that spread out for absorption of water closer to the surface. These are where the rhizomes come from. It may make you think that these are the main roots, because after the plant establishes itself, they are numerous and get to be fairly significant. Whether you have hops in the ground, or in a planter, the tap root is going to grow. You could probably do alright in those planters for the 1st year, maybe even the second. Eventually though, you will suffer. Either by having issues of being root bound, or worse, having the roots soaking in the bottom....rotting. The hops plant doesn't know that you have it contained, nor does it care. It is just going to do it's own thing. Try to grow, survive, and propagate it's existence. Just my 2 cents worth...
I'm am very curious about the part with the tap root going 16-18 feet down. This seems incredible to me! I always thought it was more like 6-8 feet down. Where did you come by this knowledge? I'm taking it at face value and not exaggeration.

Anyway, I'm happy that I've been able to plant my hops in Terra firma vs pots. These plants are absolutely monsters. :)
 

CodeSection

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I'm am very curious about the part with the tap root going 16-18 feet down. This seems incredible to me! I always thought it was more like 6-8 feet down. Where did you come by this knowledge? I'm taking it at face value and not exaggeration.

Anyway, I'm happy that I've been able to plant my hops in Terra firma vs pots. These plants are absolutely monsters. :)
I've read the depth of the tap roots in various places. Here is a link that discusses it Growing Hops at Home. I've read it on MSU's Extension site and I believe Oregon's Extension site as well, but I did not save the links. It could have been from a reference they cited in one of their papers.

You may find this interesting..... https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/em9115.pdf
 

Northern_Brewer

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I'm am very curious about the part with the tap root going 16-18 feet down. This seems incredible to me!
If you prefer books, Ten Eyck & Gehring quote 15ft (4.6m) and the British Hop Association quote 3.75m (12.3ft), although that does seem a bit low. The big attraction of East Kent is that it has deep clay soils that gives room for the monster root system.
 
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TrickyDick

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Interesting. I really have no other place on my property where I can plant hops. I would get a letter from the HOA if I tried to grow one in my open yard. I also don't want to have them take over my garden beds where most home owners plant ornamental plants by planting them in the ground. My first round of containers I had a Chinook plant with a robust tap root which I attempted to pull up. It had grown through the drainage hole in the planter. When pulling it out to replant fresh plants in my new planters (because the old ones had rotted) this was the only plant that had survived the last couple years I had neglected the plants and stopped watering them. I didn't have time to tend to them and had taken an hiatus from brewing. The Chinook plant survived because the tap root. When removing it, the tap root broke. I fully expect to see some wild hops at some point coming up in those beds, something I had hoped to avoid. Time will tell. That Chinook had been there for at least 6 years, in the container.
 
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