Growing hops in the orchard

Today I was really happy to find some hops growing wild along a stream near Holywell Bay, Cornwall. It was so abundant and full of life. It’s mid May now and will continue growing until the end of June to get to it’s maximum height before focusing on flowering (if a female plant). I might have to go back and check whether this one flowers because it’s hugely prolific. Here’s some photos of the wild hops I found.

Wild hops plant on fence
Wild hops plant growing up a fence

I’ve been planting hops amongst fruit trees and shrubs in orchards I work in over the past few years as it’s a really useful and beautiful climbing plant.

I cooked the shoots of hops for the first time this year. Fried in a little oil along with some Goji Berry shrub shoots. They were both really delicious and I highly recommend them. You snip off about 10cm off of the end shoots in late Spring once the plant has got going. Any longer than that and the shoots get stringy. Try snapping the stem as that will reflect how good for eating they are, if you can’t snap the stem then it’s too stringy and old. Some people continue to snap off shoots well into summer which helps to keep the ends more tender and flower later.

They like full sun for good flowering but this hops was in only part sun, part wooded area next to stream and thriving with plenty of tender shoots to harvest.

Hops shoots with red stems