Whether you’re thinking about growing green beans or the many different types of beans that are commonly dried, planting and growing guidelines are pretty much the same. Our new planting guide will take you through the process, and give you everything you need to know about when, where, and how to plant and grow beans in your home veggie garden.
Do you know when to plant beans? Wherever you live, you can plant beans in the spring or in the fall. The important factor in spring is that the danger of frost has passed. If planting in the fall, make sure it is 10-12 weeks before the first expected frost date. And it mustn’t be too hot.
Planting Beans in Different Climates
Beans are a warm weather crop that doesn’t like extreme temperatures – heat or cold.
Frost will damage or even kill bean plants. And if the temperature rises above 80°F (26.6°C), the plants will usually stop producing pods.
Your local climate may affect the suitability of the beans you choose to grow.
If you live in a tropical climate, be sure to plant tropical bean varieties.
Lima beans are one type that withstands hot temperatures. But, according to Scientific American, there are more than 30 heat-tolerant strains of beans.
Because beans don’t like extreme heat, if you grow beans, it’s best to plant bean seeds in early spring so that you can harvest them before the heat of summer.
Humidity in tropical areas can be beneficial, but only within reason.
Beans need regular water to grow and produce pods. In a dry climate, you are advised to place a drip hose along the planted rows of beans.
Beans grow well in temperate regions.
Runner beans and broad beans, including fava and faba beans, do well in cooler continental climate conditions.
Beans won’t grow in a polar climate unless they are planted in a heated greenhouse or grow tunnel.
Choosing Bean Seeds
You’ve got a surprising amount of choice in terms of species, type, and variety when growing beans in your home garden.
Different Bean Species
The most common bean species is Phaseolus vulgaris, which is grown as an immature green bean with an edible pod or for its young seeds. If left to mature it is harvested for its dry seeds.
Phaseolus vulgaris green beans go by many different names. These include French beans, snap beans, and string beans.
Most so-called string beans have been bred to reduce the “string” and are now called stringless beans!
You can eat the pods of snap beans and young stringless beans, but not the pods of shelling beans. You need to shell these beans before you cook and eat them.
You also discard the shells of dry beans, of which there are many different types.
Phaseolus coccineus produces large, white kidney beans and various runner beans.
Phaseolus lunatus is grown mostly for dry beans. These include butter beans and lima beans, which are an old-fashioned garden treat.
Bush Beans vs Pole Beans
Beans are grouped into two categories, bush beans and pole beans that climb like a vine.
Bush beans don’t need support, while pole beans do. You will also find that when you have planted bush beans they will produce pods more quickly than the pole beans you have planted.
There are many different bean varieties you can choose from. You can buy disease-free seeds and heirlooms.
Different varieties suit certain climates better than others. Check the packets to see where they will grow best.
The main advantage of growing heirloom bean varieties is that you can save the seeds every year and they produce the same type of bean plant every time.
Phaseolus Vulgaris Bean Varieties
Many different Phaseolus vulgaris varieties are grown for their dry beans. These include small white, carioca, sugar, red kidney, haricot, and red speckled beans.
One of the most popular Phaseolus vulgaris snap beans is the Blue Lake Bush bean, which is a straight, stringless type. It’s an heirloom green bean that produces tall, bushy vines that grow up to 2 feet (about 60 cm) tall.
Other common snap bean bush varieties include another heirloom, Kentucky Wonder, as well as Derby, Tendergreen, and Roma II.
How to Plant Bean Seeds
Beans are very easy to grow and should be sown directly into an outdoor bed. They aren’t particularly fussy about the soil they grow in, but soil temperatures must be warm enough when you plant seeds – at least 50°F (10°C).
They grow best in water draining soil that has lots of organic materials in it.
Seedbeds may be level, or you can create hills as you would for squash. Hills will work well if you are following the Three Sisters technique and growing beans, squash, and corn together in the same beds.
Make sure that the beds will get full sun.
As mentioned above, it’s essential to plant seeds after the last frost date in spring or 10-12 days before the first expected frost date in the fall. You don’t want to plant too early in the spring because germination is a lot slower when the soil is cold and wet.
If possible, plant your bean seeds before the rains. You want the soil to be moist, but if it gets saturated, the seeds may rot.
So, you want germination to start before the rain. Once the plants sprout from the seed and through the soil, rain won’t be a threat.
Plant all types of bean seeds about an inch (2.5 cm) deep in well-prepared soil. Cover the seeds with peat, sand, vermiculite, or compost.
Bush beans should be planted about 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) apart in rows that are 2.5-3 feet (76-92 cm) apart. Once planted bush beans have sprouted and grown a little, thin the plants so they are 3-4 inches (7.5-10 cm) apart.
Plant pole bean seeds in rows that are about 3-4 feet (92-122 cm) apart, ideally in hills about 3 feet (92 cm) apart in each row. You will also need stakes or a trellis for the pole beans to grow up.
Once you have planted your bean seeds, keep the soil moist so that the bean seeds will germinate quickly.
How to Water Beans
Beans need to be watered consistently. Water once a week so that the plants get about an inch (2.5 cm) of water, depending on the weather.
It’s important not to let the soil dry out while beans are budding or blooming otherwise the flowers will drop off and you’ll get fewer bean pods forming. Just remember that the soil in your bean beds must be well-drained.
Water in the mornings so that the growing beans dry quickly and there’s no risk of fungal disease. And try to only water on sunny days.
How to Grow Beans
Beans thrive in warm weather and they need minimal attention once the plants are established. Bean plants have a shallow root system, so it’s good practice to mulch around the plants to keep the roots cool.
Weed frequently but take care not to disturb the roots. Mulching with grass cuttings or straw can also help to discourage weeds.
How to Harvest Beans
Harvest green beans when they are fully grown, about 3-4 inches (7.5-10 cm) long, and still immature. Don’t wait until the seeds are fully developed and start to bulge inside the pods.
If the seeds do start to bulge, you will have to shell the beans. Make sure that the pods are thin and tough, but not dry.
Green beans will continue to grow and produce new pods. Harvest every two or three days. The more you pick the more they will grow.
If you want dry beans, you will need to allow the moisture content to drop to around 15%. A good rule of thumb is to wait until the seed pods turn yellow.
Let them dry out inside for a couple of weeks before shelling dry beans.
Pests and Diseases
Fungal diseases can be a problem in cool, wet weather. Anthracnose and rust fungus are both fungal diseases that attack beans.
If you see spots on the leaves or the bean pods, treat them with neem oil, sulfur, or an approved fungicide. Better still, pick up or pull off all parts of the plant that are diseased and dispose of them.
Common blight, a bacterial disease, is often spread by moisture.
You can also use sulfur to control insects. Three common pests that attack beans are:
- aphids that feed on the underside of the leaves and spread bean mosaic virus
- tiny spider mites that are barely visible to the naked eye
- mealybugs that leave a distinctive white fuzzy residue on the leaves
You can store green snap beans and string beans in a suitable container in the refrigerator for about a week. Dry beans will last for many months in sealed containers out of the refrigerator.
How Long Do Beans Take to grow?
If conditions are good, beans will germinate in 8-10 days. But bush beans grow to maturity more quickly than pole beans.
Pole beans generally take 55 to 65 days to produce. Bush beans will usually produce pods in 50 to 55 days.
Both types will continue to produce beans, pole beans for as long as 4-8 weeks.
You can grow beans in most regions globally. They are easy to grow and will reward you with a prolific crop if you follow basic growing guidelines.
We have discussed the various types of bean plants as well as bean varieties that are suitable for home gardens. All you have to do is take your pick!