Tag Archive | vines

Hop Vines


There are thousands of beautiful, comparatively trouble-free plants that never show up in garden centers. The reasons for their absence are as various as the sellers who don’t stock them (and the wholesalers who don’t supply them), but whatever the problem is with hops, it’s not that they’re hard to grow.

Common hop (Humulus lupulus) is hardy in zones 4 to 8, and thrives in almost any well-drained soil of moderate fertility. The vines want sun but will climb to find it, so you can plant them in partial shade if you don’t mind scantily clad stems in the lower regions. Their main vulnerability is to fungus diseases, so don’t plan hops where they will be crowded, and be sure they get good air circulation.

There are lots of varieties to choose from, though many have subtle differences interesting only to brewers. From the ornamental standpoint, the big choice is between the green-leaved sorts and the cultivars that have golden foliage. There is also an ornamental hop, H. japonicus ‘Variegatus,’ with variegated foliage in green and white.

The cone-shaped flowers of the female hop plant are pretty as sculpture but not especially showy or colorful, and they have a strong odor some people find unpleasant. You’ll need a female if you do want the flowers — for viewing, brewing, or putting in hop pillows to promote peaceful sleep (see below). Otherwise, get a male; it too has flowers, but they are much smaller.

The planting site should be one with lawn around it and a tall, strong trellis (or sturdy tree) on which the hop can grow; these vines tend to run both immense and amok. The immensity is mostly straight up, and amok is easy to control by mowing, but beware of putting a hop at the edge of uncultivated land. Once the roots are well established, new shoots can come up 15 feet — and more — away from the parent plant.


Hop Pillows: Hops are the flowers (also called seed cones or strobiles) of the hop plant Humulus lupulus. They are used primarily as a bittering, flavoring, and stability agent in beer, to which, in addition to bitterness, they impart floral, fruity, or citrus flavors and aromas.Scientific research shows that hops, with its natural sedative effects, can increase sleep time. Hops also helps to lower body temperature—falling core body temperature is one important physiological step toward sleep. Hops has also been shown to reinforce the body’s daily bio rhythms of rest and activity. Hop pillows can be made by hand or purchased via various sites.

Enjoy Beautiful Clematis

41e8e1011b15529bfcc1bc2d9df3806aA clematis in full bloom can take your breath away. Who hasn’t erected a trellis with the dream of seeing it covered with vibrant red or purple flowers in late spring? But how do you get your clematis to grow as lush and beautiful as you see in magazines or in your neighbor’s garden?

First, you need to know your vine so you can understand the proper pruning that it needs. Your clematis will survive, and even bloom, with no pruning. But with the right pruning, it’ll grow and bloom more vigorously.

Before that, though, let’s understand how to plant for success.

  1. Start with the soil. It is true that clematis prefer slightly alkaline soil. If a soil test* tells you that yours is on the acid side, your vines will benefit from some agricultural lime. But if it’s already alkaline, don’t add lime — you can overdo it. A pH of 7 to 7.5 is just right. Dig the hole 18 in. deep and wide, and work in lots of moisture-holding compost. Set young plants deeply so the first two sets of leaf nodes will be underground. This encourages plants to send up more stems so you’ll have a thicker plant.
  2. Mulching matters! “Head in the sun, feet in the shade” is old clematis advice. However, a 4-in. layer of mulch keeps the roots cool and moist just as well as shade does. To prevent stem rot, keep the mulch about 8 in. from the stems.
  3. The best place to prune a stem is just above two strong buds — where two leaves were growing the previous year. These buds will quickly develop into new vines. Don’t worry about making angled cuts — it’s not necessary.
  4. Recognize disease quickly! Clematis wilt is easy to spot: a portion of your vine wilts quickly, often just as the plant starts to bloom. Wilt is caused by a fungus that enters the stem, usually just above the soil line. There is no cure other than to cut the entire stem to the ground and dispose of it in the trash. Do this as soon as you notice the wilt. That’ll prevent spores from moving to other stems. Systemic fungicides can help prevent wilt from spreading to healthy stems and the rest of the plant will usually survive, providing there are enough other healthy stems. That’s another reason to plant clematis deeply: if a stem becomes infected and has to be removed, more will come from the base to replace it. Cultivars that have proven resistant to wilt include ‘The President’, ‘Ville de Lyon’, Nelly Moser’, ‘Betty Corning’, and ‘Jackmanii’.
  5. Clematis like to be well fed but not overfed. Feed them once a year right after pruning with an all-purpose, granulated fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10.
  6. Choose the right trellis. Clematis climb by twisting petioles, or leaf stems. The vine 3670663326_9f7e6f0a29_bitself does not twine. So, if your structure is too large, the leaf can’t wrap around it. Anything over 3/4 in. in diameter is too large for a leaf to grasp. Nylon fishing line is a great way to get a clematis to climb a light pole or arbor post. Put a knot every foot or so to keep the vine from sliding.

Pruning Pointers

So, how do you prune a clematis? Timing is important: don’t prune in the fall. It will encourage the plant to emerge from dormancy at the first hint of a warm day — which could be in January and your plant will die. No matter where you live, let your clematis stay dormant until spring.

Before you start cutting, you’ll need to know which pruning group your clematis is in: A, B, or C. If you don’t know, just watch it for a year. First pay attention to when it blooms. Second, notice whether it blooms on woody stems that grew last year and then survived the winter (old wood) or green, flexible stems that came from a main stem this year (new wood). Once you know this, you can usually put your clematis into group A, B, or C.

The University of Maryland Extension has created a wonderful little brochure that explains exactly how to prune each of the categories of clematis to ensure the best results.

HG107_Pruning_ Clematis

Now that you know these secrets, you no longer have to wonder how to get those spectacular flowers you see in photos — you’ll be enjoying your own!


*Not currently testing your soil before planting? Shame on you! To ensure the best success for your gardens, it’s important to know if your soil is helping or hindering your efforts. Read our earlier blog post on doing soil testing here.