How To Grow Hops Along A Fence

Whether you use hops to brew your own beer or just enjoy the look and smell of these unique plants, growing hops along a fence line is a great way to add unique interest to your property. Hops grow in any moderate climate, and they're pretty low-maintenance once they're established. Here's how to grow them along a fence on your property.

Make sure you have the right fence.

A low picket fence or old, broken-down chain link fence is not going to cut it for growing hops. These plants like to grow tall, so you'll want a fence that is 6 feet tall – or even taller if you can bear it. Your fence also needs to be in good shape, since the hops will add weight and put strain on it. An old fence that's beginning to succumb to rust and corrosion may collapse under the weight of the hops.

If you have a wood fence that's in decent shape and tall enough, you can make do with this. But if you're getting a new fence for the purpose of growing hops, consider going with galvanized or vinyl-coated steel rather than wood. The hops will trap some moisture against the fence, and these materials are less susceptible to moisture damage than wood. Talk to a company like Hinesville Fence for more advice on which fence to choose.

Plant the hops.

It's easier to plant already-started hops from a nursery than to try to start from scratch. The best time to plant hops is in spring, right after the last frost. Place one hop plant every  2 – 3 feet along the base of the fence. Make sure the plants are about a foot from the base of the fence so that their roots have space to expand. Bury the roots completely, and then water the plants in. Place a good 3-inch thick layer of wood mulch over the planted hops. This will help keep moisture in the soil so the hops' roots don't dry out.

Care for the hops.

During the first week or so, keep a close eye on your hops plants, and water them well whenever the soil starts to feel dry. The plants grow pretty quickly, and within a week or two, they should have tendrils that are long enough to reach to your fence. Help the plants find the fence by winding these tendrils around the fence for them.

Once the plants are growing up along the fence themselves, all you'll have to do is provide some water when rain is scarce. You won't see many flowers the first year, but there should be plenty of hops to harvest – if you desire to do so – the second year. You can pluck them off as soon as they start to develop a sticky, yellow powder on their outer surfaces.