How to Prune Hop Vines

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The cone of the female hop plant is used in beer brewing. The hops vine, Humulus lupulus, is a perennial plant that grows new from the root each spring. The plant grows in vine form and can reach a height of 20 feet given the proper trellis or support system. Maintaining the hop vine requires regular pruning.

Things You'll Need

  • Plant clippers
  • Ladders or lifts
  • Thin the vines when they reach about 2 feet tall. The vines grow new from the root each spring. Cut back to the root all but the most hardy three or four vines.

  • Prune leaves off the bottom 4 feet of foliage once the vine reaches the top of the trellis or between 10 and 20 feet tall. This allows better air circulation through the growing vine and reduces the occurrence of mold and fungal infections.

  • Prune off any vines that grow over top of the trellis or support structure. Clipping back these leaders will encourage the vines to grow laterally and produce more foliage, flowers and cones.

  • Cut the vine off at ground level after the hops cones are mature. In some commercial operations, the vines are cut and removed from the trellis for harvest. In others, the hops cones are harvested on the vine and the plants are cut off after harvest.

Tips & Warnings

  • Trellises used for growing hops can be as high as 20 feet. Some pruning, such as clipping the leaders of the vines, requires working at height. Work safely and use the proper ladders or mechanized lifts when pruning hops.

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