UCCE Orange County Master Gardeners
University of California
UCCE Orange County Master Gardeners

Edible Plants


Beans, growing

bean plant
Beans are tender, annual, warm-season vegetables. They are legumes, which means they fix nitrogen into the soil. Beans should be planted in spring when the soil and the weather are warm. Seeds germinate poorly in cold soil and seedlings grow slowly in cool temperatures. It is better to plant beans directly into the ground rather than start indoors. Plant in full sun in soil amended with compost and with good drainage. Do not overwater. Mulch in the summer months to retain moisture. Be sure and plant disease resistant varieties.

Read more about which bean varieties to grow.
Read more about planting dates for beans.

To extend the growing season, plant 2 crops 2 or 3 weeks apart. Keep picking the beans to encourage higher yield. Harvest the beans when the pods are full-sized but not bulging.


There are three different types of beans with different growth habits: bush, half-runner and pole-type.

bean pole-type
Bush snap beans mature early and do not require a trellis.

Half-runner beans have a growth habit between that of bush and pole beans. They produce snap beans on runners up to 3 feet long, and can be grown as a bush-type or on trellises for support.

Pole beans are natural climbers and require support. Sturdy wooden poles 6 to 8 feet long tied together at the top and erected in the shape of a teepee offer good support. Plant 5 or 6 seeds in a circle 6 to 8 inches from each pole.

Scarlet runner beans are a type of pole bean that is quite ornamental, as well as productive and delicious. The vines grow rapidly, producing beautiful red flowers and beans, which may be harvested as snap beans when young and as green shell beans later. An added feature is that the flowers are attractive to hummingbirds.

Varieties

There are different types of beans, bush and pole, and many different varieties. Snap beans, also known as string beans or green beans, are the most common; they are grown for their pods. Many varieties are available in both bush and pole types.

Available varieties include standard round and flat-pod green, yellow wax and purple-pod types. Yellow wax beans taste about the same as green beans. Purple-pod beans turn green when cooked. Flat pod green snap beans are different in flavor and texture from round-pod ones.

Read more about varieties of beans.

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