Ask the Gardener

Ask the Gardener: Ornamental hops add color but won’t get too big

CorrespondentMay 9, 2014 

Ornamental hops aren’t good for brewing beer, but they look great in the landscape. Ask for the variety called Summer Shandy.

L.A. JACKSON

I am interested in adding hops to my landscape. I don’t make beer, but I find hops to be neat plants, especially historically. I know they can get to be quite large, and I don’t want to have a problem with this. Do you have any suggestions?

Les Carter

Durham

When it comes to vines, hops can be a real skyscraper – a healthy specimen will easily reach 25 to 40 feet tall and usually needs hefty support to hold it up. However, if you would like to show off this impressive perennial as a landscape oddity but don’t brew your own beer, consider ornamental hops. I have one particular selection in mind: Summer Shandy. Topping out at a modest 5 to 10 feet tall, this cultivar won’t tower Godzilla-like over your yard, car or house like many regular hop vines have the potential to do.

Although modest in size, Summer Shandy can still make an eye-catching impact in the landscape, because its foliage glows in a sassy chartreuse to sizzling yellow all through the growing season.

Being self-fertile, this vine will produce hop cones (also called strobiles), which are used for making beer. The cones of Summer Shandy aren’t the best for brewing a quality beer, but they do make interesting conversation pieces. And they smell great.

Summer Shandy will not be found for sale on every street corner. It is available online, but I to encourage shopping locally, so call a few of your favorite area garden centers first to see if they have this beauty or can order one for you.

Moving daffodils

I have daffodils scattered around the yard and would like to move them all into one location for a more dramatic show. When is the best time to move them? Do I need to wait until the foliage dies back?

Jenny Nolan

Apex

It is best to dig daffodils up after their foliage dies back; this is when they slip into their dormant period. You have your choice on the next move: You can replant them as soon as you pop them out of the ground or store them in a cool, dry place and replant them in the fall. If you are going to delay the big dig, it’s a good idea to use surveyor flags, painted sticks, garden gnomes or anything else that will mark their resting place to prevent you from romping, clomping, stomping on them until you decide to make the move.

Making a trellis

I was going to make a simple trellis for growing some green beans in my backyard this summer, and I was wondering if you had any ideas for its construction.

Brittany Smith

Raleigh

Since it seems your trellis is going to be a temporary structure to be used just during this growing season, I wouldn’t be too elaborate. Simply space vertical 2-by-4s every 8 feet. I would choose 10-foot-long boards so you can bury at least 2 to 3 feet in the ground to provide stability. Go with pressure-treated lumber, if you like, but regular, cheaper 2-by-4s can be given a few coats of paint and will last just fine for at least one summer in the garden. Secure a horizontal line along the top and bottom of the posts and then just weave vertical strings between them. Also, for a bit of pizzazz, instead of using regular string to support the vines, head to a local craft store and pick out a brightly colored yarn instead.

L.A. Jackson is the former editor of Carolina Gardener Magazine. Send your garden questions, including the city where you garden, to askthegardener@newsobserver.com.

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