Is Hops an Annual or Perennial and Can You Plant It From Seed?


Hops (Humulus spp.) is a perennial vine that grows up to 25 feet in a single season to quickly cover trellises and other structures. With a couple of exceptions, hops grow readily from seeds. Golden hops (H. lupulus var. Aureus) and variegated hops (H. japonicus var. Variegata) are hybrids that don't come true from seeds. The cone-like flowers are highly ornamental and dry well for use in crafts and everlasting arrangements.

Starting Outdoors

  • Plant hops seeds outdoors in spring when there is still a chance of light frost. Choose a location in full sun or light shade with a rich, well-drained soil. Hops tolerates dry soil and rarely needs irrigation. Plant the seeds along a trellis, arbor or other structure that they can climb. Plant them 1/4 inch deep and about a foot apart. Germination takes 25 to 30 days and seeds germinate best when daytime temperatures are between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. When seedlings emerge, thin them to 24 to 36 inches apart.

Starting Indoors

  • Start hops seeds indoors six to eight weeks before you plan to transplant them outdoors. Fill clean, individual pots with starting medium to within 1/2 inch of the top. Use containers with holes in the bottom for drainage. Moisten the soil and place the seeds in the center of the pots. Cover the seeds with 1/4 inch of starting medium. Place the containers in a plastic bag and set them out of direct sunlight. Once seedlings emerge, remove the bag and set the containers in direct sunlight. Keep the soil moist, but don't allow the containers to sit in water. Feed seedlings with a weak solution of liquid fertilizer for the first three weeks, and then with full-strength liquid every 10 days thereafter.


  • Two weeks before transplanting, expose the seedlings to a couple of hours outdoors in a shaded location. Gradually increase the time outdoors and the amount of sunlight they receive. Transplant the seedlings to their permanent location a week or two before the last expected frost date. Space them 24 to 36 inches apart near a sturdy structure for climbing. Keep the soil slightly moist until the seedlings are established.


  • As the vines grow, train them to their supporting structure by winding them in a counterclockwise direction. Feed them annually in spring with compost or a commercial fertilizer. It takes a lot of nitrogen to support their lush foliage, so supplement compost feedings with a tablespoon of 21-0-0 fertilizer per plant or the organic equivalent. Apply mulch to suppress weeds and help the soil hold moisture. Supplemental watering is not usually necessary.

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