There are a few staples in every backyard garden and pole beans seem to be a consistent one. Not only are beans nutritious and easy to grow, but their vertical growth means they can give a bit of needed shade to your garden. Let’s dive in to learn when to plant pole beans and how to know when they are ready for harvest.
When to plant pole beans: Pole beans can be planted in the spring, after the last frost date. You can wait a few weeks for the soil to warm up, as pole beans only take 60 to 70 days to be ready for harvest. Water well and provide a support structure so your plants can grow and produce plenty of beans.
Planting Pole Beans in Different Climates
There are some varieties of pole beans that will do well in a tropical climate. Just be careful as their foliage can go a bit wild, so you will want to continually pinch off the tops of the plants to encourage growth in the actual beans.
Pole beans need plenty of water or else their flowers won’t develop. A dry climate is not ideal.
A temperate climate is great for pole beans. You have a long growing season in the spring and there will be enough precipitation to give your beans a good start. Also, you won’t have to worry about really hot weather in the summer drying your beans out.
Pole beans will do well in a continental climate. They have a short growing season, which is beneficial as a continental climate can have a long winter. However, you will need to use row covers to help the pole beans survive the hot summer.
Unfortunately, a polar climate will not support the growth of pole beans.
Choosing between bush beans and pole beans
We hope you know what type of beans you want to plant but let’s pause for a minute to make sure.
Pole beans, as their name implies, grow so tall that they need poles to keep them upright. You can expect some varieties of pole beans to grow between 10 and 15 feet tall.
As for bush beans, they grow in a bush pattern and only reach 2 feet tall. Bush beans are better for small areas or container gardens.
Overall, bush beans don’t need as much maintenance because of their size. However, you will get a larger yield from pole beans.
Finally, when you plant bush beans, all of your beans are ready at the same time. With pole beans, they come in at different times and once you start picking them, the plant will produce more beans for a continual harvest of up to a month.
Choosing Pole Beans Seeds
Scarlet runner beans
Hugely popular, this variety produces those gorgeous red flowers that you often see in gardens. The beans will be ready for harvest when they are about 3 to 5 inches long, and they take 60 to 70 days to mature.
These stringless beans can grow up to 7 inches tall, making them a favorite in the garden. They do take a bit longer than other varieties, however, so expect to harvest them about 70 days after they germinate.
Blue Lake Stringless
Another stringless variety, these beans will have pods that are about 5 inches long. Harvest after about 60 days for tender, crisp beans.
How to Plant Pole Beans Seeds
The best time to plant pole bean seeds is in the spring, right after the last frost date. Pole beans only take about 60 days to be ready for harvest, so you don’t have to fret about getting them in the ground right away. In fact, it’s best to wait a few more weeks so that the air and the soil have a chance to warm up, especially at night.
It’s also important to plant your pole beans directly into your garden. This is not a plant that likes to be transplanted so don’t rush the process; instead, plant the seeds right in your garden when you are ready.
Full sun is best for pole beans. However, the most important factor when it comes to location is support. Even though your beans are just seeds or even seedlings, they will grow large very quickly.
Place adequate supports for your pole beans in your garden before you even start to plant. This way you won’t disrupt their delicate roots if you put poles in later.
Plan for soil that has plenty of nutrients in it but is also well-draining. It’s best to dig the area up where you want to plant and add some compost in during this time.
Pole bean seeds should be planted about 1 inch deep in the soil. There should be one support structure for each plant as they will need it with their vegetation.
If you plant too deep, the seeds won’t be able to break through the soil. This is especially true if you have soil that is more compact or dense.
There are many different ways you can create support structures for your pole beans. What you choose will depend on experience and resources.
- Pole – This is the most common method and involves sticking long poles, often made of bamboo, into the soil next to each bean plant.
- Teepee – Another popular method involves three or four tall bamboo poles that are spaced in a circle but angled so they meet each other. You can plant up to two bean plants for each pole.
- Trellis – If you already have a structure like this in your garden, you might as well make the most of it. A trellis should be at least 6 feet tall and can support multiple bean plants.
- Tomato cage – Even though these cages are smaller than recommended, they will do in a pinch. Place the cage around the bean plant so it has something to grow onto.
How to Water Pole Beans
Water is very important for pole beans. Be sure to give them at least 2 inches of water every week. As pole beans have shallow roots, you don’t want to go too long in between watering.
If you don’t water enough, your pole beans won’t produce flowers. And, if there are no flowers, there will be no beans.
How to Grow Pole Beans
To help the soil around your beans retain moisture, you can add a layer of mulch. This is important as the weather warms up as beans have shallow roots that can be impacted by the hot sunlight.
About halfway through the growth process, you can add extra fertilizer to your pole beans. If you still have compost, you can add it around the beans, just be sure to not dig up their roots.
You can also use a liquid fertilizer. However, choose one that is not rich in nitrogen, or else you will get a lot of foliage but smaller beans.
Be sure to weed every time you come out to your garden. Mulch can help suppress weeds, which is helpful as you can disturb the shallow roots of beans while weeding.
Pole beans will keep growing but if they get too tall, this means a lot of energy is spread out in the plants. Once your beans reach the top of your support structure, you can pinch the tops off. This won’t damage the plants but instead will force their energy into the other parts of the plants, namely the bean pods.
Even though you want your beans to be in full sun, as it turns into summer, the temperatures can be quite severe. If it gets too hot and there isn’t enough water, the bean blossoms can stop growing.
To combat the heat, you can use row covers. These block out the harsh afternoon sun but still allow enough sunlight for the beans to grow.
How to harvest pole beans
It’s better to pick your beans before they become fully developed or else they will lose that tender texture. Beans should be plump and defined.
When you pick your pole beans, they should come off with a nice, crisp snap. You can either pick them off or use scissors if you are worried about tearing them.
With pole beans, try to pick some every day. They will then produce more beans, leaving you with a continuous harvest for a few weeks.
How long do pole beans take to grow?
Pole beans do not take very long to grow and will be ready for harvest in about 60 to 70 days. Once you start picking them, your plants will continue to produce more beans for the next few weeks.
Pole beans are an excellent way to use vertical space in your garden. Plant them after the last spring frost in your garden and keep picking the beans after they are ready to promote new growth.