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growing hops on dead trees  RSS feed

 
Gary Grata
Posts: 34
Location: Western Pennsylvania Zone 6A
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I've read elsewhere that hops can be grown up dead trees but there was no information on how to do it. If possible, do they need additional support in the way of twine or wire, or will they naturally climb up the tree trunk itself? I have several large dead ash that I've pruned severely and thought some hops growing up them would adorn them a bit. Thanks!
 
Dan Boone
gardener
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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I can't answer your question from experience, but I think they'd have a good shot at climbing the tree without the support. When grown for the flowers for brewing, I'm told they are always grown on very tall wire trellises, but I think that's just because wire makes the cheapest tall trellis.

Last year I planted some outside my bedroom window (which gets too much sun and drives up my A/C bill) in a tire planter on the ground. They grew OK from seed (which, like apples, you're never "supposed" to do because of genetic variation) but mostly they just multiplied as a ground-dwelling shrub less than 14" tall that expanded to fill the planter. I offered them trellises in the form of wire refrigerator racks screwed to the side of the building, which they spurned.

However this spring as soon as they greened up they just started exploding up the trellises. Currently they are at chest level and rising nearly a foot a day. Which gives me about three or four more days to string some wire from the top of my trellises (about 7 feet off the ground) so they can get up to the gutter, which is as tall as I'm going to help them get.

They are clearly using the trellises very aggressively, but it doesn't really look to me as if they need more than a little help. I'm not saying they could have climbed the steel siding without anything, but it does look very much like they would have been happy with a shovel handle leaned up. Which makes me think your dead trees ought to be plenty.
 
Todd Parr
pollinator
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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As Dan said, they will grow just fine on your dead trees. Mine grow up anything and everything. They have no trouble "hanging on" to trees, weeds, building sides, whatever.
 
Gary Grata
Posts: 34
Location: Western Pennsylvania Zone 6A
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Thanks Dan & Todd.... that was what I wanted to hear!
 
Jessica Padgham
Posts: 99
Location: Denver, Co 6000ft bentonite clay soil
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Because they twine to climb if your tree is kind of smooth or has a long stretch of trunk before there are any branches you may need to help them get going. They are fairly good at gripping things but don't latch on the same way ivy does.
 
Gary Grata
Posts: 34
Location: Western Pennsylvania Zone 6A
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Thanks Jessica.... the dead ash trees are far from smooth so guess that won't be an issue once they get started with a little help. Will they wind around the trunk or seek the south side for the most sun exposure?
 
Jessica Padgham
Posts: 99
Location: Denver, Co 6000ft bentonite clay soil
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I couldn't say really. My hops are only in their second year. I know that most twining plants seem to have some kind of maximum diameter they can go around before they start heading off in another direction to find a better grip. I have no idea what that diameter is for hops.
 
Todd Parr
pollinator
Posts: 1236
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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I have hops that will twine around each other and grow straight up for several feet. They have no support except for each other. They will do well. Also, I started with one twig that a friend gave me, and three years later, I have dozens of them, so I don't think you have anything to worry about. The hops will take care of themselves
 
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