GROWING HOPS AT HOME – BUT WE’RE IN PERTH – CAN WE EVEN DO THAT?

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** GARDENING POST ** WARNING: V. USEFUL > MAY RESULT IN ACTUAL ACTIVITY.  AVOID IF LAZY **

“I want to grow Hop vines at home.  But I live in Perth – can I even do that?”  This is one for the green thumbs out there.  After some calling around, we discovered that the nurseries in Perth (even the ones that have the ability to cultivate and grow their own stock - think Dawsons Garden World) don’t bring the hop rhizomes into the state, due to the fact that hop vines are not naturally suited to the weather and soils in metro Perth – it’s too hot and dry.  But we didn’t let that stop us.  Anything is possible – right? It is so.

Thanks to [ Girl + Beer ] who has posted a bit recently during the Hop harvest, we found some places in WA that farm hops – exciting! A breakthrough! First things first though…

The Hop vine – tell me about it

The hop vine – scientific name Humulus lupulus, has many different varieties that we know as Cascade, Chinook, Galaxy, Fuggle, Phoenix (sounds like a Harry Potter book) etc.  Technically the hop vine is a twining perennial herbaceous plant that sends up rapid growing new shoots called bines (yes: B-I-N-E-S) in the spring.  These bines wrap in a clockwise direction, and after the harvest, die back to the rhizome (a continuously growing horizontal underground stem which puts out lateral shoots at intervals – basically, the root) in autumn.  This is in prep for dormancy over winter.  They’re so fast; the bines can grow up to 50cms in a week. If you haven’t seen images of a hop farm before – check this out: (pretty glorious…)

  Image: @karridale_cottages Instagram account

Image: @karridale_cottages Instagram account

So if you’re thinking of growing hops at home you’ll have to keep the following in mind (providing you get over the first hurdle of finding some to plant in the first place): The hop vine is, like us, what’s known as dioecious: that is, there are separate male and female plants, that produce male or female flowers.  Female plants are the ones often most used in brewing, and are best grown away from the male plants – this prevents pollination and the development of viable seeds, which can affect the flavour.  Who knew!

So who is growing hops in WA?

Apart from a plethora of backyard projects around this great state (people who have their own hopventures going on) we were first alerted to hops growing in a WA business while sitting at the Margaret River Brew House and looking longingly at their beautiful hop vine: we knew it was possible.

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Image: @brewhousemargaretriver Instagram account

Once we started looking we found a few places growing Hops in WA:

  Image: @karridale_cottages Instagram account.

Image: @karridale_cottages Instagram account.

Karridale Cottages and Hop Farm

  Image: @prestonvalleyhops  Instagram account.

Image: @prestonvalleyhops  Instagram account.

Preston Valley Hops