All kinds of green beans are incredibly easy to grow. You can grow lots of beans in limited space, and there is a huge variety of beans. Often called green beans or string beans, the common garden bean can be both stringless and colors other than green. But it’s the "green" bean that everyone recognizes as one of the most frequently prepared vegetables. Hot, cold, and even raw, string beans are versatile in the kitchen and very prolific plants in the garden.
Green bean plants are either pole varieties that grow long vines or low-growing bush types. Most varieties are green, but there are also find purple, red, yellow, and streaked varieties. Green beans are several inches long and either round or flattened in shape. For fresh eating, they are picked young and tender before the seeds inside have fully developed. Most popular varieties have been bred to have stringless pods, but many gardeners prefer the flavor of the old-fashioned "string" types.
- Botanical name: Phaseolus vulgaris
- Common name: Green Bean, Snap Bean, String Bean
- Plant type: Annuals
- Mature size: Size will vary with variety. Bush beans generally get about 2 ft. tall and 1 ft. wide. Pole beans can grow upwards or across a trellis for a good 10 ft. The beans will grow from 3 to 4 inches long.
- Sun exposure: Full sun
- Soil type: Moderately rich soil
- Soil pH: Slightly acidic pH of about 6.0 to 6.2
- Bloom time: About 55 days after planting, spring
- Flower color: White, pink, purple, multicolor
- Hardiness zones: 2 through 10
- Native area: Peru and Central America
How to Grow Green Bean Plants
Beans are generally direct sown in the garden, although you can transplant small bean plants. The most important point about growing green beans is not to plant the seeds too early. They will rot in cool, damp soil. To get an earlier start, you can put down black plastic, to warm the soil or use an inoculant. Plant after all danger of frost is past.
Plant the seeds one to two inches deep and be sure to water the soil immediately after planting and then regularly, until they sprout.
- Bush beans can be planted in single rows or by broadcasting seed in wide rows with about a four- to six-inch spacing between plants.
- Pole beans will need some type of support to grow on. Be sure the trellis, teepee, fence or other support, is in place before you seed. Plant seeds at a rate of about six to eight seeds per teepee or every six inches apart.
Bush beans begin producing before pole beans and often come in all at once. Succession planting, every two weeks, will keep your bush beans going longer.
You will get the highest yield if you plant your beans in full sun. Beans tend to stop flowering in the extreme heat of summer and partial shade might seem like a good idea, but keeping them watered should be enough relief for them. They will resume flowering soon. Full sun also helps keep the plants dry and less likely to be affected by a disease.
Beans like moderately rich soil. You can amend the soil with organic matter.
Green beans need 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. They will do better with an in-ground or drip irrigation system rather than water from above. This prevents the dirt from splashing up on the leaves and bringing diseases. Keep the bean plants well watered or they will stop flowering.
Temperature and Humidity
Green beans grow best when the air temperature is between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Because they are legumes, they can fix their own nitrogen and a supplemental fertilizer isn't an absolute requirement. Although beans can feed themselves, pole beans produce over such a long period that they will benefit from a feeding or a side dressing of compost or composted manure about halfway through their growing season. Beans have shallow roots and mulching will help keep them cool and moist.
- Kentucky Wonder: An old, string pole variety that still tastes great
- Bountiful: An early producing, stringless heirloom bush bean.
- Golden Wax Bean: Easy producing, soft textured yellow, bush bean
- Royal Burgundy: Purple pods that turn green when cooked; early producing bush bean; not popular with the bean beetle
- Lazy Housewife: German heirloom pole bean, so named because it doesn’t require stringing
- Triomphe de Farcy: A readily available French haricot vert heirloom bush bean
- Romano: Classic broad, Italian style green bean with meaty flavor—bush or pole.
Harvesting Green Beans
Harvesting green beans is an ongoing task and the more you pick, the more beans the plants will set. You can start to harvest anytime after the beans form. Gardeners usually wait until the beans begin to firm up and can be snapped, but before you can see the seeds inside bulging. They are generally about as thick as a pencil, at that point.
In general, bush beans are ready to pick in 50 to 55 days. Pole beans will take 55 to 65 days. Check the packet to be sure your choice will have time to mature in your growing season. Don’t wait too long, because beans can become overgrown and tough almost overnight. Harvest by gently pulling each bean from the vine or by snapping them off at the vine end.
Pole beans need time to allow their vines to grow before they start setting beans. They start producing later than bush beans but continue to produce for a month or two. Keep harvesting or the seed pods will mature and the plants will stop flowering and setting beans.
Pests and Problems of Green Beans
Lots of insects love beans as much as you do, including:
Four-footed animals, like deer and groundhogs, will eat entire bean plants and fencing is necessary to stop them. Fungal diseases, such as Alternaria or Angular leaf spot can be a problem in damp conditions. Other diseases, like Anthracnose, bacterial blight, and mosaic virus are less common but can occur. Try and keep the vines dry by not crowding the plants and providing plenty of good air circulation.