Propagating hops by layering and rooting
So there are a few ways to produce additional hop plants. You can divided the rhizomes (the root mass). That’s easy and simple and great if you have enough established hop hills. But… if you are just starting out you probably want to give your plants a bit of time to get established before you start engaging in serious division. So I guess you could buy additional crowns… or you can use alternate means to multiply your own stock.
Fortunately hops want to root… you just need to present then with an opportunity to do so.
The easiest way to do this is by layering. From a good crown you’ll get a bunch of bines – the first and strongest bunch train vertically for your production but additional bines can be run through soil in a large plant pot or window box before being allowed to grow on or trimmed. The bines aren’t super flexible so think big curves not tight curves – which makes running them longitudinally in the window boxes a good option. Keep the pots reasonably watered and the result should be about one crown per bine that was run through the pot.
But if you need to increase your stock even faster then you should probably considering rooting. Last season I took a number of bine segments, dipped them in rooting hormone, stuck them in sand and had good success getting them to root in a home built mist propagation setup. The setup was cheap and simple and while the layering method will result in one crown per bine the rooting method can take one bine and make a load of crowns – so if you are looking to rapidly increase your plant material it’s definitely worth the extra effort.
So, if you brew, buy crowns for your favorite hop varieties – they use vertical space so you can probably find a spot for them – and multiply them to increase your own yard, share with friends or even offer for sale.