Vigorous climbing perennial. Twisting shoots can climb to 5 m. Fragrant greenish yellow flowers in summer are used in brewing.Easily grown in a good garden soil in sun or semi-shade. Prefers a deep rich loam and a warm sheltered position. Plants can succeed in dry shade if plenty of humus is incorporated into the soil, once established they are also somewhat drought tolerant.
Plants are very hardy tolerating temperatures down to about -20°c when dormant. The young shoots in spring, however, can be damaged by any more than a mild frost.
Hops have a long and proven history of herbal use, where they are employed mainly for their soothing, sedative, tonic and calming effect on the body and the mind. Their strongly bitter flavour largely accounts for their ability to strengthen and stimulate the digestion, increasing gastric and other secretions.
A fine brown dye is obtained from the leaves and flower heads.
A fibre is obtained from the stems. Similar to hemp (Cannabis sativa) but not as strong.
Sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is fairly quick. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant out in the summer or following spring.
Young leaves and young shoots - cooked. The flavour is unique and, to many tastes, delicious. Young leaves can be eaten in salads. Use before the end of May. The leaves contain rutin.
The fleshy rhizomes are sometimes eaten.
A tea is made from the leaves and cones. It has a gentle calming effect.
The dried flowering heads of female plants are used as a flavouring and preservative in beer. They are also medicinal. The flowering heads are sprinkled with bitter-tasting yellow translucent glands, which appear as a granular substance. This substance prevents gram-negative bacteria from growing in the beer or wort. Much of the hop's use as a flavouring and medicinal plant depends on the abundance of this powdery substance.
The seeds contain gamma-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that is said to have many important functions in the human body and is rarely found in plant sources.
The essential oil in the flowering heads is used as a flavouring in cereal beverages and mineral waters. Extracts from the plant, and the oil, are used as flavouring in non-alcoholic beverages, frozen dairy desserts, candy, baked goods and puddings, with the highest average maximum use level of 0.072% reported for an extract used in baked goods.