The hop is the most cultivated climbing plant in Finland. Today, it is used as an ornamental plant and although other climbing plants have largely isolated it, the hop is still suited for growing amongst old plants in a yard. It is fast-growing and quickly covers a fence or lattice work with its lush vegetation. Finland’s old hops are exceptionally female, i.e. they produce the “cones” used in beer production. Hop cultivation was an important livelihood in the Middle Ages. In that time, there were regulations to promote the cultivation of hops. In 1442, a statue ordered the mandatory cultivation of hops, and in 1474 there were 200 hop poles. These pieces of legislation would never be overturned but the domestic farming of the hop has fallen out of fashion and at present all the hops required by the beer industry are imported from abroad.
The use of hops as ornamental plants is limited if the soil quality and the place of growth are not favourable, the leaves also easily suffer from powdery mildew. Aphids will contaminate hops and the leaves of plants growing nearby can stain it with honeydew. Some butterfly caterpillars may even eat the whole foliage of a plant. The best hops thrive in moist, nutrient and soil rich ground but will grow in both open and shaded areas as long as there are enough nutrients. The hops around Myllylähde grow from plants that were probably cultivated hundreds of years previously.
The hop is not just an ornamental plant; green hops can be dried and used as a sedative for sleep. And they have also been used to fill pillows, which is said to also give a soothing night’s sleep.