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Green Beans | Complete Growing and Care Guide

Looking for the best way on how to grow green beans? Being a staple in so many vegetable gardens across the globe, green beans are surprisingly easy to grow and quick to establish, making them the perfect vegetable for novice and expert growers alike.

This tender annual has many delicious types and comes in various forms so there’s bound to be the right pick for your vegetable garden. Here’s your full guide on how to grow green beans and care for them for both the pole and bush varieties. 

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Green Beans Complete Growing and Care Guide
Phaseolus vulgaris, green bean plants are a part of the Fabaceae family and are commonly known as the common bean, snap bean, string bean or French bean

Like peas, green beans are legumes known to build the surrounding soil which can greatly improve the experience for the surrounding vegetables.

Despite their name, green beans can also come in purple, red, yellow and streaked varieties that either grow as pole beans with long vines or as low-growing bush beans.

No matter which variety you grow, knowing the best practices for how to grow green beans, how to care for them and harvesting the plants is imperative. 

Getting to Know Green Beans

Botanically named Phaseolus vulgaris, green bean plants are a part of the Fabaceae family and are commonly known as the common bean, snap bean, string bean or French bean.

Native to South America and Central America, these tender annual vegetables are a warm-season crop that is fast-growing once established. The growing size will vary depending on which type of bean plant you grow but generally, these plants grow between 2 to 15 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide. 

There are many well-known nutritional benefits that green beans can provide and they of course make for a tasty, fresh and healthy snack.

They can be stored with ease after picking and can keep for 10 to 12 months in the freezer, meaning your harvests will never go to waste. Whether enjoyed raw or blanched, string beans are a worthwhile addition to any vegetable gardener’s arsenal. 

Plant Name:

Green Beans

Genus:

Phaseolus

Species:

Vulgaris

Common Names:

Green bean, common bean, snap bean, string bean, French bean

Location:

Outdoor

Type: 

Annual vegetable

Growth:

2 to 15 ft. tall, 2 to 3 ft. wide (differs by type)

Sun Requirements:

Full sun

Foliage Color:

Green

Flower Color:

Spring to summer

Flowering:

July to September

Hardiness Zones:

USDA 2 to 11

Maintenance Level:

Low

Poisonous for Pets:

Toxic to people and pets (when raw)

Understanding Pole Beans & Bush Beans

Bush Beans 

Bush beans are rapid and compact growing, considered easy to grow with most varieties reaching 1 to 2 feet tall
Bush beans are rapid and compact growing, considered easy to grow with most varieties reaching 1 to 2 feet tall. After sowing the seeds in late spring, you can expect to harvest within only 7 to 8 weeks and this usually lasts for about 3 weeks. These plants will not require extra support from a structure. 

Pole Beans 

Pole beans can be runners or climbing vines that can reach 10 to 15 feet tall. They will need to be grown up a trellis or stakes for extra support. They begin to crop 11 to 12 weeks from seeding and their harvest season lasts longer than the bush bean types which is usually around 6 weeks.

Pole beans can be runners or climbing vines that can reach 10 to 15 feet tall

There are a few caveats when growing either type of plant. Here are a few important considerations before choosing which is right for you. 

  • Bush beans usually require less maintenance and grow in a more manageable size. However, pole beans can yield more beans for a longer period and are also very disease-resistant plants. 
  • Bush beans produce in around 7 weeks whereas pole beans can take around 9 weeks.
  • Bush beans generally yield all at once so you would need to stagger your planting every 2 weeks for continuous harvesting. Pole beans first need their vines to grow then will produce for about 6 to 8 weeks when harvested continuously.

Popular Varieties of Common Beans

There are several exciting types of beans to choose from. Here are just a few popular varieties.

  • ‘Kentucky Wonder Beans’ – This variety has stood the test of time and is prized for its flavor. It is an old pole variety of string bean that is adored globally.
  • ‘Golden Wax Bean’ – This variety is a soft and textured yellow bush bean. 
  • ‘Bountiful Green Beans’ – This type produces early and is a stringless bush bean. This plant is specifically cultivated and these methods have been passed from gardener to gardener for generations. 
  • ‘Royal Burgundy Bean’ – Another early producing bush bean, this variety features purple pods that turn green when cooked. 
  • ‘Romano bean’ – This is a very popular Italian-style bean that can come in both bush or pole types. It produces broad and flat beans with a meaty flavor profile.

How to Grow Green Beans

These plants are best propagated using seeds. True to type seeds or young, healthy plants are widely available at reputable garden centers, nurseries or online stores.

How to Grow Green Beans

Alternatively, you can harvest seed pods from healthy plants, dry them and extract the seeds from the pods for planting. It is important not to rush sowing your seeds as cold and wet soil can quickly rot them. 

Sow your seeds in mid to late spring once all danger of frost has passed and your soil temperature is around 65 to 70°F. These plants need warm conditions and lots of light to thrive. 

Most types of beans are directly seeded outdoors into prepared garden beds or large containers as they are quick to germinate and need healthy amounts of consistent light throughout the day. 

For container growing, use a large window box or pot that is at least 15 inches in diameter and fill with a good mix of two parts quality potting soil and one part compost. It is important to note these plants don’t respond well to being transplanted so avoid starting your seeds indoors. 

Growing Green Beans from Seeds

  • Choose a planting site with lots of sun and organically rich, fast-draining soil. 
  • You can amend your soil by adding an inch of compost and applying a slow-release organic vegetable fertilizer.
  • Try to ensure there are no large shrubs or trees in the near vicinity that can create too much shade around your beans. 
  • It is ideal to sow and grow seeds in raised beds and containers for the best results. 
  • Sow your seeds about an inch deep into your soil or place your nursery plants at the same depth they were in the previous container. 
  • Bush beans should be planted in rows 3 feet apart with the seeds spaced 1 to 2 inches apart. 
  • Pole beans will need a support structure like a trellis or stakes to grow. Your support should ideally be 6 to 8 feet tall and be placed into the ground before sowing seeds. Space your support structures about 3 to 4 feet apart for optimal fortification. 

Check out our helpful guide on the best soil for raised beds.


Best Conditions for Planting Green Beans

Growing Green Beans from Seeds

When considering how to grow green beans, many tend to overthink things and assume these annual vegetables can be tricky to grow. Yes, setting up proper structures for the pole varieties or properly spacing the bush types does require a little effort.

However, once these plants have taken, they are easy-going and very quick to produce, generally requiring only light maintenance and care to thrive. 

Please take note that green beans are toxic to children and pets when ingested raw so place them in your landscape accordingly. 

Sunlight Requirements

As mentioned, these plants love lots of light. Your planting location should get as much full sun as possible and should be safe from bigger plants or trees overshadowing it.

Full sun conditions will also ensure your plant stays dry, meaning it will be less likely to develop fungal issues.

Best Soil for Green Beans

Bean plants prefer organically rich loamy soil with good drainage and a slightly acidic pH level. Be sure to remove any weeds before sowing your seeds and manage the weeds carefully around your plant as it grows as the shallow root systems can easily be damaged.

Temperature & Humidity

Ideal growing air temperatures are between 65 to 85°F. Your plants may stop flowering when temperatures are too high but keep them well-watered and they will resume their flowering and bean production when temperatures cool.

Regarding humidity, green beans should grow in almost all humidity levels as long as they are being watered properly. 


Caring for Green Beans

Caring for Green Beans

Water & Moisture

Most bean plants will need about 1 inch of watering per week. Always first check if your plants need water by sticking your finger an inch deep into the soil, if it feels dry it’s time to water.

Underwatered plants will stop producing and overwatered plants will be susceptible to rotting issues. Water lightly to avoid splashing soil onto the leaves and mulch around your plants to help keep them cool and retain moisture in your soil, especially in the warmer months.

Fertilizing Green Beans

Beans are known to fix nitrogen levels in the soil so try to avoid feeding them with too much additional nitrogen. A good fertilizer to use would be a slow-release organic vegetable fertilizer or a 10-20-10 fertilizer.

Feed your plants throughout the growing season and add another layer of compost about halfway through the growing season to boost production. 


Bean Poles – How to Support Your Green Beans

Due to their vining growth habit, pole beans will need to be properly supported and staked up to grow and flower best. There are a few ways in which you can do this.

Be sure to place your support structures before sowing seeds or planting nursery plants. Space your support structures about 3 to 4 feet apart for the best results.  

Using a Pole/Stake

You can effectively support your green beans by using a straight stick or pole

By using a straight stick or pole, you can effectively support your green beans as they grow. Bean poles are so widely used because it is one of the easiest ways to stake up pole beans.

Your poles should be 6 to 8 feet tall with a rough texture to help the vines grow upwards. 

Green Bean Teepee

A bean plant tepee can be made from bamboo or any long thin supports like poles or rods

Source: homegrownfun.com

A bean plant tepee can be made from bamboo or any long thin supports like poles or rods. Take 3 to 4 support beams that are each around 5 to 6 feet long and firmly tie them together at one end using rope or gut.

Spread the untied end a few feet apart and place it around your plant on the ground. Your support structure should resemble a tepee shape. Plant a couple of seeds around the base of each stick and ensure your structure is holding firm in the soil. 

Green Bean Trellis

An excellent way to stake pole beans is to use a trellis or moveable fence

Another excellent way to stake pole beans is to use a trellis or moveable fence. Your trellis should be 5 to 6 feet tall. A great advantage of using a trellis is that it can be expanded if needed as your plants grow.

You can also create more caged environments using multiple trellises.


Easiest Ways on How to Pick Green Beans Off Plant

Did you know that this is one of the easiest vegetables to pick? If you are wondering how to pick green beans off plant then here is some helpful information for you.

Eating green beans is beneficial to one's health. The reason behind this is because of the different types of antioxidants they have, along with other beneficial nutrients. 

Now, if you can grow them in your garden, there are no chemicals included in the process which is even better.


Benefits of Consuming Green Beans

Green beans are low-calorie vegetables that are also very nutritious. They contain carotenoids, vitamins C, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids. This means that eating green beans can be good for the heart.

Benefits of Consuming Green Beans

They can also help in controlling certain eye problems, including night blindness because of the fat-soluble antioxidants. 

People who are trying to lose weight can benefit from eating green beans. You can boil the beans or eat them fresh as a quick, healthy and diet-friendly snack. 


When to Pick Green Beans

Green beans are ready to harvest after about fifty to sixty days but you can harvest other varieties sooner. The harvesting time of the beans will usually depend on the type of beans that you have planted.

  • Keeping an Eye on the Plants - Typically, after a couple of months post sowing, the seedlings will start to emerge. Pods will start growing on the plants at this time and this will be your cue to start keeping an eye on the plants.

    The beans will start to grow quickly, which will make them ready for harvesting sooner than expected sometimes. 
  • Size of the Green Beans - Green beans can grow up to two feet if left unclipped. It is best to harvest them as soon as they reach two inches in length as this will make the beans tastier and more tender. 

How to Pick Green Beans Off Plant

How to Pick Green Beans

Start by grasping the beans firmly at the top where the vine is connected to the beans. Support the stem using your other hand and carefully pinch the pods off the vines. 

Pinching is essential especially if you are going to consume the beans on the same day. Just be careful not to break the beans when pinching them off the stem.

Now if you are not planning to consume the beans on that day, then it would be best to break the beans along with their stems. You can just snap the stem when you’re ready to consume them. Keeping the stem will keep the beans fresh.

Once done harvesting the green beans, keep them in a plastic bag that is loose so they can freely breathe. Store them in the fridge to maintain their crispiness. If you want to keep them for longer than a week, freezing is recommended.


Freezing Your Newly Harvested Green Beans

Washing green beans

Washing the Beans

After harvesting your green beans, it would be best to wash them first in cold or lukewarm water. This will ensure that you have removed any residue or debris that the green beans acquired from being exposed outside.

Trimming and Cutting

The next thing that you should do is to start trimming the ends of the beans with a pair of pruning shears or sharp scissors. You can cut one-fourth of the ends before you start cutting them to the desired size you want. (See our review of the best pruning shears here.) 

Blanching the Beans

Once you have cut the beans, you can choose to start blanching them using boiling water. Let the beans stay in the pot for three to five minutes.

The height of the water will depend on how many beans you are planning to blanch. Just make sure that the beans are well soaked in the water.

Cooling and Storing

After blanching the green beans, let them cool and start storing them in sealed bags and place them in the freezer. Frozen beans will keep for 10 to 12 months. 

Feel free to watch this video for a more detailed description on how to pick green beans off the plant.


Common Green Bean Pests, Problems & Diseases

Unfortunately, many pests love to feed on bean plants. You will notice infestation if you see the flowers and leaves being slowly eaten away or holes in the leaves.

Other pests can cause leaves to die and some larger animals like deer and hogs can eat your entire plant altogether. Some pests may include:

  • Mexican bean beetles
  • Spider mites
  • Japanese beetles
  • Bean leaf beetles
  • Other aphids

Be sure to fence your plants if needed for larger animals and treat your plants for pests by washing and knocking off insects with water and soap or apply a horticultural spray or neem oil safe for vegetables. 

In overly damp and moist conditions, rotting or fungal issues can occur. Molds or other viruses can begin to form and quickly take over healthy plants, stunting their growth and production.

Prevent such problems by maintaining a healthy watering routine, keeping your vines dry as much as possible and avoid overcrowding your plants so they all get plenty of decent air circulation.

There are certain varieties and cultivars of green beans available that come with inherent resistance to diseases and pests if you’re worried. 


How to Grow Green Beans – FAQs

Planting green beans

Should I soak bean seeds before planting? 

While many seeds can benefit from being soaked to speed up germination, bean seeds should not be soaked before planting as the seeds don’t have a hard outer shell.

Rather, plant seeds directly into warm and moist soil in the garden for the best results. 

How long does it take for a bean seed to germinate?

Usually, around 4 to 10 days depending on conditions. Bean plant seeds are usually sown directly into the garden or outdoor containers as they do not respond well to transplanting. Therefore, avoid starting your seeds indoors. 

Which way do you plant bean seeds?

Bean seeds should be planted on their side with the radicle down. The radicle is the white spot on the seeds and forms from the same side of the seeds that have the seed scars. These scars should be face down when sowing.

For more in-depth information on growing vegetables, be sure to check out our other helpful guides below:


Wrapping Up Our Green Beans Guide

With so many delicious varieties to choose from and being accessible to any grower, green beans are a must-have addition to your vegetable garden. These plants produce abundantly and rapidly so you can quickly enjoy their yields and easy-going natures. 

Beans are easy to pick and harvest, easy to store and can offer you and your family a nutritious source of vegetables right from the garden. Now you know everything on how to grow green beans, happy gardening!

Growing green beans is not only ideal but also beneficial to one's health. The reason behind this is because of the different types of antioxidants that they have.

About the Author Mabel Vasquez

Mabel has enjoyed a long career as a horticulturist, working in nurseries and greenhouses for many years. Although she loves all plants, Mabel has developed a particular passion over the years for herb gardens and indoor plants. Mabel has since retired from her horticulture career and loves sharing her many years of experience with our audience here at Sumo Gardener.

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