Monday, March 16, 2009

Rhizome Experiments - Successes & Failures

Spring is here, well it's trying anyway! Here in Oklahoma, we had days with highs in the 70s and low 80s, and a few days later it was snowing! This past weekend provided mild temperatures in the 50s with sunshine, perfect weather for spending time in the yard.

I decided to spend time pulling weeds from the hop garden and checking for rhizomes I tried to create. Admittedly, I had both success and failure but know how to make more rhizomes for next year. First, let's cover the success!

I was able to successfully create rhizomes in 2 ways:

1. During the growing season, take a bine that is growing above ground and bury a portion of it, leaving the tip above ground and allowing it to continue growing.

2. At the end of the season, leave a small amount of the lower bine attached to the crown and cover it with dirt. The buried bine needs to be healthy and approximately the same diameter as a dime at a minimum.

If you are planning on trying to create rhizomes during the growing season, it is best to get a start early in the season. The pictures below are of 2 rhizomes I created from my Goldings plant. The picture on the left is a bine that I buried early in the season, and was one I had growing up my main trellis. The picture on the right, is a bine I let grow to about 2 feet later in the growing season and buried it. I suspect they are both going to produce plants, but the diameter of the rhizome planted earlier in the season is about twice as large, and as you can see already has a more established root structure.

As for the failures....

I had several plants that I left lower bines attached and covered. In most instances, the bines I covered were small in diameter and they just did not produce any rhizomes. I also tried just taking cut bines and burying them in a trench. This did not produce any rhizomes either. I may try this trench method again this next year with larger diameter bines to see if it makes a difference.


billvelek said...

This is an interesting blog, especially your comment about bines that are about a "dime" in diameter. How old are your plants? I have hops that I planted in the spring of 2007, so they have had only two years of growth, but none of them have ever produced a bine that is anywhere as near as large as you've described. In fact, my recollection is that the bine, at the bottom, was not a WHOLE lot larger in thickness than near the top of the plant. This is puzzling to me; do you think it's because my plants are still so young, or do you think I am lacking somehow in plant nourishment and/or irrigation. I get very good growth and a fairly good harvest. I have 20 plants, although only 19 have sprouted so far this spring (still waiting on one Magnum, which do not do very well here in Arkansas).

Incidentally, if you are interested, we have a 'Grow-Hops' Yahoo Group that has 2,763 members at this time. If interested, please visit my personal brewing portal at or go directly to


Bill Velek

Josh said...


The plant in question regarding the 'dime' size bine was a first year plant. That was the size of the bine at crown level, but at 9 feet it was much smaller. Near ground level, that bine had a few offshoot bines that I allowed to grow last season and that may be part of the reason it grew to the diameter it did. The bines on my other plants didn't get that big so there may be something to that.

Only a portion of the resulting rhizome had a diameter that large, with the remainder tapering down fairly quickly. The main thing I learned is that if you are going to try and create rhizomes at the end of the growing season by leaving a portion attached to the crown and covered with dirt, small bines are likely to just go soft and not produce a rhizome.

Cheers - Josh