Although frequently referred to as the hop vine , it is technically a bine; unlike vines, which use tendrils, suckers, and other appendages for attaching themselves, bines have stout stems with stiff hairs to aid in climbing. It is a perennial herbaceous plant which sends up new shoots in early spring and dies back to the cold-hardy rhizome in autumn. Hop shoots grow very rapidly and at the peak of growth can grow 20 to 50 centimetres (8 to 20 in) per week. Hop bines climb by wrapping clockwise around anything within reach, and individual bines typically grow between 2 to 15 metres (7 to 50 ft) depending on what is available to grow on. The leaves are opposite, with a 7 to 12 cm (2.8 to 4.7 in) leafstalk and a heart-shaped, fan-lobed blade 12 to 25 cm (4.7 to 9.8 in) long and broad; the edges are coarsely toothed. When the hop bines run out of material to climb, horizontal shoots sprout between the leaves of the main stem to form a network of stems wound round each other.
Misty - I have a hop vine that gets cut to the ground whenever I get around to it. Anytime from now until next spring when the new growth starts. It just depends on how tidy you like things. One thing to think about, though -- apparently ladybugs, those assiduous eaters of aphids, like to overwinter their larvae in hopvines.
But if you want the hops for beer, Mr. Granger suggests starting with the Cascade vine, which is easy to grow. His favorites include Centennial, Nugget and Amarillo. Rhizomes, or underground stems of mature hop vines, will quickly grow into new plants. These may be ordered in February or March and planted in spring, as soon as the ground can be worked. Sources include Northern Brewer, (800) 681-2739, northernbrewer.com, and More Beer, (800) 600-0033, morebeer.com.