I’ve Got Sunshine… On a Cloudy Day: Humulus Lupulus ‘Aureus’, Beautiful Golden Hops Vine

Luminous Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’, the Chartreuse Beauty of Golden Hops Vines

Gloomy morning. Shifting, filtered light — melancholy as an old bow, dragging across a cello— traces murky shadows in the morning fog. The garden’s saturated colors —maroon, deep green, burgundy and rust— hint at summer’s end. There is a touch of sadness within the garden walls. A beautiful wistfulness hangs heavy in the air; clinging like raindrops to the dark, moss-covered rock. The somber mood lifts when, through the grey sky and lingering mist, a golden, chartreuse glow appears; like the light of paper lanterns filled with a million fireflies…

Tiny buds capture raindrops and glow like paper lanterns in the morning fog…

Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’, commonly known as the golden hops vine, has become one of my favorite perennial climbers. I like to use it in unexpected places —modern fences and dark, masculine structures– adding a luminous touch of feminine lace. Hardy in USDA zones 4-8, this twining, citron-beauty prefers full sun (for best color), and even soil moisture. Rapidly clamoring up walls, fences and pergolas, the golden hops vine can reach a height of 15-20′ in a single season. Brilliant in combination with dark colors —black, maroon, burgundy and dark blue are particularly lovely— Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’ brightens gloomy spaces and sings against tobacco-stained wood. Although the vine dies back each year, the papery buds persist throughout winter; adding delicate, textural interest to structures when traced with snow or ice. In spring, golden, new shoots appear from the base of the plant, rapidly covering nearby surfaces as it races to its mature height before blooming. For a neat appearance, old growth can be cut to the ground as soon as new shoots appear (usually by April here in New England). In more casual spaces, I leave some of the old vines (tidied up a bit) to serve as a guiding ladder for new shoots…

Tendrils of Golden Hops Glow Against the Blackened Siding

Although the golden hops vine is a vigorous climber, it’s no garden-thug. Easily trained, each year I encourage the vine’s shoots along each cable-rail of my balcony, where it softens the hard structure and contrasts beautifully with the rusting steel, oxblood planters and charcoal-colored siding of the studio. Wayward tendrils, weighted with little lanterns by midsummer, droop from the balcony, dangling into the Secret Garden below. As temperatures cool with autumn’s approach, the chartreuse leaves will slowly burnish to rusty-speckled yellow and orange; eventually deepening to a warm, golden brown…

Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’, off at a rapid pace, twining across the balcony in mid May

Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’ in late autumn rain

Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’, Dressed in a Cloak of Ice


Article and photographs â“’ 2010 Michaela at TGE

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7 Replies to “I’ve Got Sunshine… On a Cloudy Day: Humulus Lupulus ‘Aureus’, Beautiful Golden Hops Vine”

  1. Michaela

    @ Laurrie, I hope you find a spot. I do think it is beautiful, and yes, quite unusual (hard to find.. I am propagating one for a design-client). When I cam back to respond to your comment, I realized my winter shot wasn’t showing up for some reason. It should be there now if you are curious about how it looks, should you choose to leave the vines standing over-winter. I rather like the texture in snow and ice.

  2. Ali

    This is a beautiful vine. I love the shape of the leaf and the lovely coloring. I am wondering if its vining/climbing mechanism is harmful to brick, wood etc. (i.e., ivy)

  3. Michaela

    @ Ali. Great question! Yes, golden hops is beautiful, and no, this vine isn’t harmful to wood or brick (note I have it growing alongside my studio, but it does not scale the studio). Unlike Hedera helix (English ivy) or Parthenocissus tricuspidata (Boston ivy), Humulus lupulus (Hops vine) is not a self-supporting/clinging vine. There must be either a trellis, wire or other means of support, for hops to twine ’round – it can not scale a building via its own support (as Hydrangea petiolaris or Hedra helix have adapted to do). And, unlike Wisteria sinensis or floribunda, hops is not a woody vine, and so does not cause structural stress with weight. Hops is a true perennial. The vine dies back to the ground each year. The old growth can be cut right to the ground, or some parts left to help the new sprouts find their way in spring (as your aesthetic preferences dictate). If there are concerns about moisture being held close to a structure, the old growth should be cut back to the ground in autumn. I would think of this vine as not structurally significant – similar to an annual, or a lightweight perennial like Clematis.
    Thanks for commenting, and for the good question. xo M

  4. Lynda S


    If you ever come across a reliable source for this vine I think several of us would like to know! Can they be grown from seeds? I had one in my garden in California and I just loved it. Then one year it just didn’t come back up and I have no idea why… and never found a replacement. However, I want to try one here in my new garden for sure!


  5. Michaela

    @ Lynda, Hi there… I know you saw my reply to this question on the Facebook Page, but I am going to leave the answer here for others too, in case they are not on FB: Hops can be grown from seed, but this particular cultivar ‘Aureus’ will not come true if grown from seed. If you want the golden color you must propagate by root division or layering. A good source for Golden Hops Vine online is Avant Gardens, this vendor carries H. lupulus ‘Aureus’, but it is temporarily out of stock. Here is the link to the page, for future reference: Avant Gardens
    Good Luck – It’s well worth the hunt, as you know!
    xo Michaela

  6. Deb Weyrich-Cody

    Hi Michaela, Last night, before reading your posting, I was watching a rerun of “The Thirsty Traveller”. He made his way to a town called Pilsen while exploring the roots of the original pilsner beer, Pilsner Urquell, in the Czech Republic and I couldn’t help but be amazed by the vigorous growth habit of the hops used in beer making!
    Well, when I hopped online (sorry) and saw what you’d written about, I almost fell out of my chair! Having a good chunk of my blood originating in Germany (and Holland) I suppose having a particular fondness for European beer could be expected. But this attraction to the Golden Hop Vine (almost deja vu?) is only matched by how I feel about the Ironwood/Hop Hornbeam trees that grow in the hedgerows here. I absolutely love the feel and the papery sound that the “hops” make when rubbed between my fingers.
    Call me weird, if you will, but I feel a certain attraction to some trees more than others, Beech being my absolute favourite ( the Irish believe that faeries and/or spirits make their home in Beech trees).
    Anyway, I was pessimistically thinking that we’re probably outside the comfort zone of the Golden Hops here, so imagine my delight when I found sources in both Ottawa, Ontario and Winnipeg, Manitoba, which are “north” and “well north” of us respectively. Can’t wait to have Humulus Lupulus ‘Aureus’ shading the west side of our house. Would they run vertically up cables, do you think? So sorry, this turned into a bit of a tome. D xo

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