15 Great Heirloom Varieties of Bush Beans

rows of beans growing
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Compact bush beans fill the bill for any garden and are perfect for the small homestead. Bush beans mature on the plant all at once, so you can plant them at three-week intervals to extend the naturally short harvest window. Because they do ripen at nearly the same time, bush beans are a good choice to have in the homestead garden if you plan on canning.

Beans like moderately rich soil with a slightly acidic pH. Amending the soil with peat moss or another acidifying organic material is good preparation for planting bean seeds. Soil should be kept moist but not soggy until flowering begins, then watering can be stepped up until the harvest is complete.

Bush been varieties described as heirlooms have been around since before 1900—although some have been recently developed from one of these old varieties. These are generally easy-to-grow plants, though they may not have the full spectrum of disease- and pest-resistance found in modern hybrids. But in exchange for slightly greater susceptibility, heirloom varieties are often much tastier than many of the modern hybrid varieties of beans.

Here are 15 great heirloom bush beans to consider for your vegetable garden.

 

  • 01 of 15

    'Blue Lake 274' (Phaseolus vulgaris 'Blue Lake 274')

    'Blue Lake 274' was developed from the very old 'Blue Lake' pole bean in 1961. It may not bear a fancy name, but its tender 5- to 6-inch pods are reliable and bountiful. Eat as many as you can fresh from the garden and then can or freeze the rest of the harvest. Seedling to harvest takes about 60 days.

    Native Area: Central and South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–11

    Height: 15–20 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

  • 02 of 15

    'Bountiful' (Phaseolus vulgaris 'Bountiful')

    This bush bean has good resistance to mildew, beetles, and rust. The high-quality, stringless pods are delicious and they keep well—perfect candidates for freezing and canning. Once known as New Green Bush bean, the plant was renamed around 1900. The 6- to 7-inch pods can can be harvested 45 to 50 days after seedlings emerge.

    Native Area: Central and South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–11

    Height: 18–24 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

  • 03 of 15

    'Burpee's Stringless' (Phaseolus vulgaris 'Burpee's Stringless')

    'Burpee's Stringless' is known for great full flavor and a satisfying snap. Introduced in 1894, this plant is drought-tolerant and heat resistant, and renowned for being prolific. Germination to harvest of 5-inch pods takes about 46 to 50 days.

    Native Area: Central and South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–11

    Height: 12–18 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

  • 04 of 15

    'Cherokee Wax' (Phaseolus vulgaris 'Cherokee Wax')

    First available to the public in 1947 based on a much older bean, 'Cherokee Wax' produces an abundance of long, waxy, disease-resistant, yellow pods. Harvest and use them fresh, frozen, or canned. Seedling to harvest of 6-inch pods takes roughly 58 days.

    Native Area: Central and South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–11

    Height: 16–18 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Continue to 5 of 15 below.
  • 05 of 15

    'Contender' (Phaseolus vulgaris 'Contender')

    'Contender', also known as 'Buff Valentine' is a high-yielding, disease-resistant producer of tasty pods. It has been a favorite of gardeners since its introduction in 1949. It is one of the fastest maturing of beans; in the right conditions (warm soil), it is ready to harvest is just over 40 days.

    Native Area: Central and South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–11

    Height: 12–20 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

  • 06 of 15

    'Tongues of Fire' (Phaseolus vulgaris 'Tongues of Fire')

    Also known as 'Borlotto' or 'Horto', this is considered an Italian heirloom variety. Italian cooks have long raved over the dried beans in soups, but it's also eaten young as a green bean. The pods are white with red streaks. It will be ready to harvest as a snap bean in about 50 to 60 days.

    Native Area: Southern South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–11

    Height: 12–14 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

  • 07 of 15

    'Dragon Tongue' (Phaseolus vulgaris 'Dragon Tongue')

    Stringless and prolific 'Dragon Tongue', with its creamy-yellow pods covered in thin, purple streaks, is a kid's favorite in the garden. It's also a favorite of chefs for its superb flavor. Harvest of beans can begin about 55 to 60 days after seedlings sprout. 'Dragon's Tongue' was first cultivated in the Netherlands in the late 18th century.

    Native Area: Central and South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–11

    Height: 18–24 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

  • 08 of 15

    'Kentucky Wonder Bush' (Phaseolus vulgaris 'Kentucky Wonder Bush')

    This prolific producer of stringless, flavorful pods, also known as 'Commodore', was introduced as a bush bean during the late 1800s. The pods are up to 9 inches along, but when picked early they are said to be among the tastiest of all green beans. The foliage, however, is a favorite of Japanese beetles. Harvest can begin about 65 days after seedlings sprout.

    Native Area: Central and South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–11

    Height: 12–24 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Continue to 9 of 15 below.
  • 09 of 15

    'Landreth Stringless' (Phaseolus vulgaris 'Landreth Stringless')

    Landreth Seed Company (the oldest seed house in America) introduced this bush bean in 1885. They're chock full of snap and have a juicy, full flavor. This is an excellent and very prolific traditional green bean.

    Native Area: Central and South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–11

    Height: 18–24 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

  • 10 of 15

    'Nickel Bush' (Phaseolus vulgaris 'Nickel Bush')

    'Nicke Bush' is a high-quality, French-bred baby gourmet filet bean that's stringless and delicious. A favorite among chefs, it's also resistant to white mold and brown spot. The flattened 4-inch pods are ready to harvest about 52 days after sprouting.

    Native Area: Central and South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–11

    Height: 18–24 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

  • 11 of 15

    'Calima' (Phaseolus vulgaris 'Calima')

    This long, dark green, French filet snap bean freezes and cans like a dream. Harvest 'Calima' bush beans when they are about the thickness of a pencil. The 4- to 6-inch pods are ready for harvest in about 50 days.

    Native Area: Central and South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–11

    Height: 16–22 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

  • 12 of 15

    'Provider' (Phaseolus vulgaris 'Provider')

    'Provider' is an early, fleshy, disease-resistant, and prolific (to say the least) snap bean that germinates in cool soil. It's an excellent choice for canning and freezing. The fleshy round pods are about 5 inches long, ready for harvest in 48 to 54 days. This bean is something of a modern heirloom, introduced in 1965.

    Native Area: Central and South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–11

    Height: 15–18 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Continue to 13 of 15 below.
  • 13 of 15

    'Royalty Purple Pod' (Phaseolus vulgaris Royalty Purple Pod')

    'Royalty Purple Pod' doubles as an ornamental in the kitchen garden by offering purple blooms. Stringless, purple pods turn green when they're cooked and make an excellent choice for veggie soup. The 5- to 6-inch purple pods are ready to harvest in 55 days. 'Royalty Purple Pod' was bred in 1957.

    Native Area: Central and South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–11

    Height: 18–24 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

  • 14 of 15

    'Tendercrop' (Phaseolus vulgaris 'Tendercrop')

    Resistant to mosaic virus and pod mottle virus, 'Tendercrop' is ideal for north Midwest and West gardens. It is an exceptionally prolific and easy to grow snap bean. The pods are ready to start harvesting when they are 4 inches long, which takes about 55 days after seedlings sprout.

    Native Area: Central and South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–11

    Height: 16–20 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

  • 15 of 15

    'Top Crop' (Phaseolus vulgaris 'Top Crop')

    Another prolific plant, 'Top Crop' offers round, meaty, stringless, and flavorful pods. It's a homestead favorite that's exceptional for canning and freezing. The 6-inch pods are ready to harvest about 52 days after seedlings sprout. 'Top Crop' was released in 1950.

    Native Area: Central and South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–11

    Height: 18–24 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun