Many growers face a critical dilemma between using hop seeds and rhizomes. Both the methods are well-revered with tons of good qualities. While having tons of similar characteristics, they share some contrasting differences!
So, what are the differences between hop seeds vs rhizomes?
Compared to hop seeds being planted in autumn, hop rhizomes are planted in spring. The USDA zones for seeds are 4-8 while rhizomes can be planted in 3 and above. Again, the spacing also does not match when you compare hops seeds and rhizomes. Lastly, the price is also a major differentiating factor.
With all of these differences, you’re probably eager to learn more about it. That’s why I tried to cover everything you’ll ever need to know about these in here.
So, let’s begin right away.
A Gentle Look at Hop Seeds and Rhizomes
Just like maple syrup is a substitute for priming sugar, hop seeds are for rhizomes. Because they share many similarities between them. However, even with many common attributes, there are some key differences.
And because of those, some choose hop seeds. In contrast, others find comfort in hop rhizomes. However, if you’re confused about these two, you should start by knowing the fundamental differences first.
So, let’s take a look at this quick comparison chart to get an idea-
|Characteristics||Hop Seeds||Hop Rhizomes|
|Flowering Time||July-August||End of June|
|Harvest||Late September to October||Early September|
|Soil pH||6.1 – 7.8||6-7.5|
|Spacing||2 feet space between the seeds||Same variety should be 3-5 feet apart|
|USDA Zones||4-8 zones||3 and above|
Now that you know about the key differences, it’s time to dig deeper. So, let’s take a good look at the whole comparison.
The Complete Breakdown of the Two
I know you’re getting impatient to know about the details. That’s why it’s best to jump straight into the complete breakdown.
Let’s start with the most significant attribute regarding hop planting, which is the planting season.
Stages of Growth:
Almost everything regarding hops starts with the initial step of growing. And this is where the major differences can be seen between seeds and rhizomes.
For your hop seeds, you can start growing them in Autumn. And by the end of August, you’ll see hop buds flowering in your garden. And lastly, by the end of October, you’ll get your harvest.
Now that you got the idea of hop seeds planting, it’s time to look at rhizomes.
So, when to plant hops rhizomes?
Hop rhizome planting is done mostly in Spring. It takes around the end of June to flower. And you’ll get your harvest within September. Hence, hop rhizomes are better if you’re looking for a quick harvest.
Now, don’t go around buying any hop rhizomes that seem decent. You’ll have to be extra careful if you want to get a good variety of hop rhizomes. Let me tell you about the best hop rhizomes I know about.
I’ve personally used Nugget Hop Rhizome which is excellent for getting high yield.
If you want the best aroma from your hops, try out the Chinook Hop Rhizomes. They even have good resistance to diseases.
Lastly, If you’re confused about what to get, Cascade Rhizomes can be the best one. Because they are perfect for new growers.
Winner: Hop seeds can be planted in early Autumn, however, you’ll get the harvest in October. On the other hand, with a late spring plantation, you’ll get your rhizome harvest within September.
USDA Zones & Spacing:
Hardiness of your zone is obviously quite an important factor for both hop seeds and rhizomes. Because you’ll not get the best results if you don’t choose the optimal planting methods.
Both the hop seeds and rhizomes can be planted in 4-8 USDA zones. However, rhizomes are a tad bit more hard-soil resistant. So you can plant them in USDA 3 zones too.
But you have to care for the hop rhizomes before you plant.
So, what should be the hop rhizomes care routine?
You should start caring for the rhizomes by keeping them moist before planting. Because if they are too dry or too moist, it fails to grow well. Moreso, if the rhizomes are not well-maintained, the brew becomes dull and less alcoholic.
Now, hop rhizome spacing starts from 3 feet apart for the same variety. On the other hand, hop seeds can be planted as close as 2 feet.
That’s definitely an advantage of using hop seeds over hop rhizomes!
Winner: The USDA zones are quite similar for both. But the spacing of seeds is more flexible to plant in small spaces without losing any brewing traits.
The price of these two hop varieties doesn’t really have a significant price difference. Still, you might be inclined to choose one over the other because of the price.
Hop rhizomes are basically derived from good hop plants. That’s why they are a bit cheaper than hop seeds. You can get hop rhizomes as low as $5 from many local sources.
However, the hop seeds are a bit more pricey. The reason behind this is that the seeds are sold in a bulk.
So, is buying hop seeds worth it?
Yes, getting good hop seeds is definitely worth the extra bucks. Hop seeds are better if you’re looking for mutation and a more aromatic brew.
So, either way, you’re mostly guaranteed to get excellent growth.
Winner: Hop rhizomes are more affordable than hop seeds. So, you can get a cheaper brew while maintaining the taste and aroma.
Hop Seeds vs Rhizomes- Which One to Choose?
Finally, it’s time to draw a conclusion to the comparison. So, let’s try to summarize everything so that you’ll not face any complications.
First of all, the planting seasons vary drastically. On one end you have hop seeds that need to be planted in Autumn. On the other end, hop rhizomes require spring warmth to grow.
Then comes the difference in spacing. You can’t plant the hop rhizomes 2 feet apart. They will not get enough growth space unless they are 3-5 feet apart.
However, you can easily put hop seeds at that distance without facing any problems. That is what makes hop seeds more small-space friendly.
You might think both these methods of growing hop don’t have any similarities with others! Well, that’s not true at all.
The best thing is that almost every hop variety can be harvested with these two methods.
So, you don’t need to compare Citra with Galaxy in terms of the growing process.
Lastly, you need to consider the price. You can get hop rhizomes at a very cheap price. However, you need to be more flexible with your budget if you want to get hop seeds.
That wraps the whole summary of everything discussed throughout the comparison.
Now, it’s up to you for making the decision you won’t regret!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How long Do Hops Take to Grow from Seed?
While the growth and duration vary, it takes around two years to get a yield properly. You will not get a yield from the first year. Because it takes some time to develop the root properly as opposed to hop rhizomes. From the second year, you’ll start to see a good level of harvest from the plants.
How Do I Get Rid of Hop Rhizomes?
When you notice sprouting, you’ll have to dig the soil for the hop crown and check. Usually, March is the best time to observe the hop rhizomes. If you dig early, then you’ll just mess up the timing. When you dig up, split your hop plant. And then cut down the rhizomes you observe.
Do Deer Eat Hops Plants?
Funnily enough, deer do not get attracted to hop plants in any way. However, butterflies sure get drawn to the rich aroma of the hop plants. Hops have small prickles all around the plant and the vines are not palatable. Because of these reasons, deer stay away from hop plants.
That puts an end to the whole hop seeds vs rhizomes battle. Now, the decision is on you to start your homebrewing journey.
Whichever path you may choose; delicate maintenance is required. Otherwise, your harvest will take ages!
So, take care of that and you’ll get to enjoy homemade beers in no time!