How to grow bush beans?

Planting Bush Beans – How To Grow Bush Type Beans

Gardeners have been growing bush beans in their gardens for almost as long as there have been gardens. Beans are a wonderful food that can be used either as a green vegetable or an important protein source. Learning how to plant bush beans isn’t hard. Keep reading to learn more about how to grow bush type beans.

What are Bush Beans?

Beans come in one of two types: bush beans and pole beans. Bush beans differ from pole beans in the fact that bush beans don’t need any kind of support to stay upright. Pole beans, on the other hand, need a pole or some other support to stay upright.

Bush beans can be further broken down into three types: snap beans (where the pods are eaten), green shelling beans (where the beans are eaten green) and dry beans, (where the beans are dried and then rehydrated before eating.


general, bush beans take less time than pole beans to produce beans. Bush beans also will take up less room in a garden.

How to Plant Bush Beans

Bush beans grow best in well drained, organic material rich soil. They need full sun to produce best. Before you start planting bush beans, you should consider inoculating the soil with bean inoculant, which will have bacteria that help the bean plant produce better. Your bush beans will still produce if you do not add bean inoculants to the soil, but it will help you get a bigger crop from your bush beans.

Plant bush bean seeds about 1 1/2 inches deep and 3 inches apart. If you are planting more than one row of bush beans, the rows should be 18 to 24 inches apart. You can expect the bush beans to germinate in about one to two weeks.

If you would like a continuous harvest of bush beans through the season, plant new bush bean seeds about once every two weeks.

How to Grow Bush Type Beans

Once bush beans have started growing, they need little care. Make sure that they get at least 2-3 inches of water, either from rainwater or a watering system, a week. If you would like, you can add compost or fertilizer after the bush beans have sprouted, but if you started out with organic rich soil they do not need it.

Bush beans do not normally have any issues with pests or disease but on occasion they will suffer from the following:

  • bean mosaic
  • anthracnose
  • bean blight
  • bean rust

Pests such as aphids, mealybugs, bean beetles and bean weevils can be a problem too.

Growing Beans – Pole or Bush

Beans are one of the easiest vegetables for people to grow and they are as popular as tomatoes and peppers. Within the bean group there are those that are grown for the dry bean and those that are grown for the green bean which is served as a vegetable. Green beans are all climbers to some extent but they are generally classed as being pole beans, which grow five or six feet, or bush beans which only grow a foot or two.
As a general rule, the pole beans, particularly the scarlet runner beans, do much better in cooler summers and bush beans do well in moderate to hot summers. There are numerous types of beans in both growth habits and a few, such as Blue Lake, can be found in climbing and bush form.
The broad, flat green string bean that is thinly sliced French style is a pole bean and most of the beans that are harvested for drying such as kidney beans and navy beans are pole beans too. Most of the pencil thin Filet beans are bush beans. Almost all the other beans, whether you want purple, yellow or green, can be found in both bush and pole forms.
Whether you grow pole beans or bush beans you will have an abundant harvest if you remember to pick regularly. Most beans are harvested before the seed grows too large, and the overall harvest will continue for many weeks if the beans are picked every day or so. Obviously if you intend to harvest the bean seed for winter casseroles and meals, then you will let the beans mature and dry on the vine, before you pick them.
For growing beans, you will need a sunny spot and well drained soil. Wait until well after the last frost before you plant the beans as they all like warm soil for germination. Plant the seeds about an inch below the surface and keep watered until the seed germinate. The seeds are large enough that even small children can help to plant the beans. Once started, the beans will grow quickly and you will get the first flowers then fruit in about 55 days. Pole beans take an extra week or two before they are ready to harvest, primarily because the energy is put into growing the vine before the flowers are produced.
Probably the biggest difference between bush beans and pole beans is the amount of land you need to grow a good crop. Bush beans are usually planted in linear rows and the double row will support each other as they grow. Pole beans are planted against a trellis, or tepee arrangement which can be placed on smaller plots. Pole beans can also be used to make a quick screening fence around an area or into a play house for young children. Try mixing the Purple King pole bean with a nasturtium for a colorful wall of the playhouse that is both fun and good to harvest.

Live for Less editor Mike Watson is a snake bean convert after planting this high yielding veggie that loves the Brisbane heat and is easy to grow. Testify!

Growing veggies in Brisbane’s long summers can be a right royal pain. I mean, really.

The searing heat, humidity and storms means at least 60% of popular veggie varieties are not even starters for amateur backyard growers, and that’s not just classic winter varieties. Most bean varieties can struggle. Even the sun-loving tomato is high maintenance, prone to all kinds of leaf blights, rot and insect attacks when rain and humidity are around.

So say hello to my little friends: snake beans, aka long beans, aka God’s Heat-Loving Beans of Wonder.

6 reasons to grow snake beans

They love the heat

Snake beans come from Asia and have evolved in tropical and subtropical climates. So in Australia they grow happily even in the hottest areas. That includes the Northern Territory. You know, where it’s so hot you can cook a steak on a rock. Where birds fall flaming from the sky.

So snake beans are hardy. They can take the heat. If you loaded a truckload of veggies into a space canon and fired it into the sun, the snake beans would simply pass through the inferno to the other side. FACT!

They produce lots in a small space

Snake beans grow upwards, now outwards, so they don’t take up much horizontal space in a garden or sunny balcony. Just give them something to climb that’s 1-2 metres high. Sticks, wire, fencing, it can be almost anything.

They are cheap

Been paying up to $15 a kilo at the shops for green beans? Did they go all black in less than week? Grow your own snake beans and you’ll save money, I guarantee.

They don’t need extra fertiliser

Like most beans, snake beans don’t need a lot of fertiliser as long as the soil or potting mix is good to start with. In fact adding lots of nitrogen-based fertiliser (e.g. chook poo pellets) will probably give you a big lush green wall with few actual snake beans. Nice to hide behind, but otherwise useless.

They are yum and healthy

My neighbours might have seen me wandering around the yard with my shirt off and crunching down on a handful of long green stringy things, and thought, “what the #!#@!! is he doing now?” Eating my greens, I would say. Would you like some beans?

So they are good raw, if that’s your thing. But you can use snake beans in most recipes where you use regular supermarket green beans, from meat-and-three-veg to casseroles. They are especially awesome in Asian stir fries.

They last in the fridge

A good crop of snake beans can easily produce more than you immediately need. Seal them in a plastic lock bag and they will last up to 4 weeks in the fridge. Home-grown veggies generally last longer than store-bought produce, and this is true of snake beans in particular.

Snake Bean FAQ*

*just like real FAQ questions except I made them up

Are snake beans venomous?

Fortunately, no. They are docile and safe around children. No snake bean has ever been observed swallowing family pets, expect a really big one I saw on Doctor Who once.

Why don’t I see snake beans in the shops?

Good question. I’ve seen them in a few green grocers and market stalls, but they aren’t commonly available in Brisbane. Perhaps because people like what they know. Perhaps because they aren’t sexy. Perhaps because they look a bit weird. Well, here’s your chance to step up. Become a snake bean ambassador and #eatsnakes.

When should I plant snake beans?

Snake beans will grow year round in many parts of SE Queensland, though they hate frost. They need warm daytime temperatures above 25°C for fastest production, as growth will slow noticeably at temperatures lower than 15°C. This is an annual plant, meaning it will complete its life cycle and die in less than a year.

Best time to actually sow your seeds is from early spring through to the end of summer. Beans generally are one of the easiest veggies to grow from seed rather than buying expensive seedlings. A pack of Mr. Fothergill’s Snake Bean Seeds will cost you around 5 bucks and you can easily save some to plant next time. Behold, the circle of life.

How much water do they need?

They need a steady amount of water, without letting them become waterlogged. Only in monsoonal regions do drainage systems need to be set up so the plants aren’t damaged in the big wet.

What should I grow snake beans in?

You can grow snake beans in the ground, in a row of pots, or in a raised bed like I do. Just stick in a trellis or a similar structure for them to grab hold of, because boy, do these babies love to climb.

More on snake beans

  • This guide from the Northern Territory government on growing snake beans at home is excellent.
  • You can buy snake beans seeds direct from Mr. Fothergill’s website, who I suspect is not actually a real person but seems an awfully nice bloke anyway.

Whether you call them string beans, snap beans, or haricots verts, green beans are a great addition to any backyard garden, and because they’re easy to grow and harvest, they can be a good gateway crop for beginning gardeners.

Green beans come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, and two distinctly different growing habits, so they can be grown to suit just about any garden space in most climates. And in addition to being a tasty garden treat, green beans can improve soil fertility by fixing nitrogen with their roots.

The biggest distinction that you’ll need to know about before running out and buying seeds to grow your own green beans is their growth habits, which can be either pole beans (climbing vines) or bush beans (compact plants that don’t need support). Pole beans are well suited to trellises, bean tipis, or along fences, as they really do need to climb up a pole of some sort, without which they sprawl on the ground and quickly become a tangled jungle that isn’t conducive to optimal growing or harvesting of the beans. Bush beans, on the other hand, are much shorter plants that can stand alone without support, are often quicker to mature than pole beans, and could be grown in a container garden.

How to grow green beans:

Most green beans should be planted after the soil warms and the danger of frost is gone, and need to be planted about an inch deep (and as deep as two inches, especially in arid climates). As a rule of thumb for planting, plan for about 10 to 15 green bean plants for each person in your household. Once planted, the beds should be watered to stay evenly moist until all of the seedlings emerge from the ground, at which point the surface of the soil can be allowed to dry out between watering. Green beans will do best in fertile soil that is rich in organic matter, and digging some finished compost into the garden beds will help them thrive. Once the green bean seedlings have several true leaves, cover the garden beds with several inches of mulch to conserve moisture, keep soil temperatures cooler, and keep weed seeds from germinating.

For growing pole beans, choose a garden bed that has full sun and good drainage, and build a bean tipi or trellis before planting them (one simple method for a trellis is to put a t-post at the middle of each end of the bed, and then attach chickenwire or other wire fence to the posts). Pole beans can be planted close together and then thinned to about 6 to 10 inches apart after germination, or sown at that distance to begin with (which yields more green bean plants per packet, as none of them will need to be removed for thinning). Pole beans tend to produce continuously throughout the season (about 60 days after planting, depending on the variety), up until the first frost of fall, and can end up yielding more green beans per plant than bush beans.

For growing bush beans, which also require full sun and well-drained soil, plant the seeds about 3 to 6 inches apart (or plant more densely and then thin to that distance once germinated), with about 1 to 2 feet between rows, depending on the size and shape of the garden bed. Because they don’t require any support (although they could use it if grown in an open area that tends to be windy), bush beans can be planted without building any sort of trellis for them, and their shorter height is more conducive to fitting them into areas of the garden that wouldn’t work for pole beans. Bush beans tend to produce a crop over a single period of about two weeks or so (about 50 days after planting, depending on the variety), but to have a continuous harvest throughout the summer, do several succession plantings a couple of weeks apart for the biggest yields.

The soil for both types of green bean plants should be kept moist during flowering and fruiting, as hot and dry conditions can make them drop their flowers or young beans before they’re big enough to harvest. A thick mulch under the plants will keep soil moister and cooler in the middle of summer, as well as serving to feed the earthworms and other soil life.

To harvest pole beans, begin harvesting them when the pods are still small and tender, using two hands to pick them to keep from ripping the vines (although with practice, green beans can be harvested with one hand with a little twist and pull action). Pole beans should be picked every few days to keep the plants flowering and producing new bean pods, but the green beans can be allowed to grow to a larger size before harvesting them.

To harvest bush beans, which should also be picked regularly, use two hands to twist or snap them off of the plant (or try the one-handed approach, which uses the thumb and finger to pinch the stem of the bean). Both varieties of green beans should be picked before they get tough, unless you’re saving some to dry for cooking or for next year’s seed. Green beans are self-pollinating, so different cultivars can be grown next to each other, although to minimize the possibility of cross-pollination for next year’s seed crop, the different varieties should be grown in beds that are widely separated from each other.

Growing green beans is a great activity for children, as the seeds are large and easy to plant, and growing pole beans over a tipi or other trellis can produce a fun shady spot for kids to play in the garden. Pole beans can also be grown in front of, and over, sunny windows, to help keep your home cooler during the hot days of summer.

Growing green beans: learn how to plant, grow, and harvest a bumper crop of green beans

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I’ve been growing green beans since I was just a kid. In fact, it was my love of green and yellow beans that inspired me to start gardening. Today, green beans remain one of my favorite crops to grow and eat. I grow both bush and pole types for the longest harvest season, planting them in my raised garden beds, but also in planters on my sunny back deck. Green beans are both easy and quick to grow, which also makes them the perfect vegetable for novice gardeners.

Growing green beans – types to grow:

There are so many delicious types of beans that can be grown in gardens and containers. They can be grouped by their edible parts (pods versus seeds), how they’re eaten (fresh pods versus fresh seeds versus dried seeds), or by their growth habit (bush versus pole). And it’s this last group that makes the most sense for green beans.

  • Bush beans – Bush beans are fast and easy to grow with most varieties growing between 12 to 24 inches tall. Once the seeds are sown in late spring, the harvest usually begins in seven to eight weeks and lasts for around three weeks.
  • Pole beans – Pole beans can be runner beans or vining snap beans with plants that grow eight to ten feet tall. They need to be grown up a trellis, teepee, tower, netting, or other support and begin to crop eleven to twelve weeks from seeding. The harvest season runs for a longer time than bush beans, lasting around six to eight weeks.

Bush green beans are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. Succession plant fresh seeds every two to three weeks for the longest harvest season.

Green bean planting tips:

Green beans are a warm weather vegetable and are planted after the last expected spring frost. Don’t be in a rush to sow bean seeds as planting when the soil is still cold and wet can lead to rot. Aim to seed when the soil temperature reaches 70 F (21 C). Most types of beans are direct seeded in garden beds and containers as they are so quick to germinate and grow and don’t respond well to transplanting.

Bush beans – Sow the seeds of bush beans 1 inch deep and 2 inches apart in rows 18 to 24 inches apart. Once the plants are growing well, thin them to 6 inches. For the longest harvest, succession plant bush beans every two to three weeks, or until about two months before the first expected fall frost.

Pole beans – Pole beans need a sturdy structure to support their heavy vines and trellises or teepees should be erected before you plant the seeds. Sow seeds 1 inch deep and 3 inches apart for trellised pole beans, eventually thinning to 6 inches. For a teepee, use poles at least 7 feet tall and plant six to eight seeds around the base of each pole. My favorite way to grow pole beans is over a pole bean tunnel. It adds vertical interest to the garden and is a fun spot to hang out in summer – a living fort!

When growing green beans pick a site with at least eight hours of daily sun and moderately fertile, well-drained soil. Raised beds are ideal, but green beans can also be grown in pots and planters. For bush beans, choose a large window box or a pot that’s at least 15 inches in diameter. For pole beans, the container should be at least 18 inches in diameter. Fill pots with a mixture of high quality potting mix and compost.

Pole beans need a sturdy type of support like a trellis, netting, teepee, tower, or tunnel.

Beans are very low maintenance vegetables and once they’re growing well, require little fussing. Keep an eye out for slugs, taking action if necessary. Mexican bean beetles are another common bean pest with the adults resembling ladybugs. They are orange-red and have sixteen black spots on their backs. Their eggs and larval stages are yellow in color. Use row covers to prevent damage and handpick and destroy any you spot.

Beans can be susceptible to fungal diseases, so it’s important to stay out of the bean patch when the weather is wet.

Consistent moisture results in the highest quality harvest, so water weekly if there has been no rain, paying careful attention to irrigation when the plants are flowering and producing pods. Also aim to irrigate early in the day so the foliage has a chance to dry before night. Mulch plants with straw or shredded leaves to hold soil moisture and reduce weed growth.

When growing green beans, harvest every few days to encourage the plants to keep producing fresh flowers and pods.

Green bean harvesting tips:

The rule for harvesting green beans is the more you pick the more you get. Stay on top of the bean harvest by picking every few days, especially when the plants are in peak production. Excess beans can be pickled, blanched and frozen, or shared with family and friends.

Pods can be picked at any size, but most are ready when they’re 4 to 6 inches long, smooth, and with interior beans that are still very small. Promptly remove over-mature pods from the plants as this will signal a switch from flower and pod production to seed production, decreasing the harvest.

As much as I love green beans, I also love experimenting with yellow, purple, red, and striped varieties of beans too.

The best green beans to grow:

There are a lot of outstanding heirloom and hybrid green beans to grow. Here are a few of my favorites:

Bush beans

  • Mascotte – I am a huge fan of this award-winning, fast-growing gourmet green bean. The compact plants yield a heavy crop of super slender green pods that are produced on top of the foliage – easy picking! The 16 inch tall plants can be grown in beds, but they also do well when planted in pots and window boxes.
  • Provider – Provider is a popular green bean that is tolerant of planting in cool soil, allowing northern gardeners to get a jump on the spring planting season. The smooth pods are about 5 inches long and the plants are resistant to several diseases including powdery mildew.
  • Contender – Contender is a high-yielding variety that is also one of the earliest to produce. Each plant produces dozens of round, slightly curved pods.

Pole beans:

  • Emerite – I’ve been growing this green pole bean for over a decade and its tender, flavorful pods have made this a family favorite. It’s an early variety, but it’s the pod quality that makes this a must-grow. The interior beans grow very slowly which means the pods are snappy and delicious no matter the harvest stage – at just 4 inches long or when they’re a mature 8 inches in length.
  • Fortex – Outstanding! This French-type pole bean is incredibly productive, yielding stringless, slender green pods that can grow up to 10 inches long! I generally start picking when the beans are 5 to 6 inches long, but they maintain their eating quality even when they’re 10 inches in length. Expect excellent flavor when eaten raw or cooked.

For more on growing your own vegetables, check out these awesome articles:

  • Growing beans – pole versus runner beans
  • DIY simple tunnels for pole beans
  • 6 high-yield vegetables to grow
  • The easiest vegetables to grow in your garden

Are you growing green beans in your garden this year?

Cherokee Trail of Tears beans dried and ready for winter eating.

One of the easiest and most rewarding vegetable crops for northern gardeners are green beans. Whether you call them snap, string, shell or dried, green beans grow relatively quickly, require only a bit of care and produce bountiful crops for fresh eating or preserving.

Pole vs. Bush Beans

Green beans come in two basic growing styles: bush or pole. Bush beans grow about a foot high in bushy plants that tend to produce their crops all at once. They are prolific and are popular with gardeners who like to can or freeze their beans. Popular bush bean varieties include Blue Lake, French Filet or wax beans. Pole beans are climbers, which means you typically can get more beans per square foot of garden. Climbing French is one of my favorite climbing beans. However, you do need to provide a support, which may be as simple as some bamboo poles lashed together or a length of wire fencing. Pole beans also tend to produce over a longer period of time, so if you are growing beans mostly for fresh eating, pole beans are a good option.

Planting, Growing, Harvesting

Mixed with cucumbers and other summer vegetables, green beans make a great salad.

Beans should be planted in the sunniest part of the vegetable garden. The primary key to success with green beans is to not plant too early. Beans want the soil to be warm, and if it is damp or cold, the seeds will just rot in the ground. Place the seeds about 3 inches apart and 1 inch deep for bush beans. Pole beans can be planted about an inch deep around the support system. Beans do not require a lot of fertilizer, but if you know your soil is depleted, you could add some compost or a formula specifically for vegetables. Water the seeds well and maintain consistent moisture while the beans germinate. Beans need about an inch of moisture a week.

The seed packet will tell you how long to wait before harvest, but many beans will be producing a crop within 50 or 60 days. Once the beans start coming, be sure to harvest regularly. Picking the beans indicates to the plant that it still needs to set seed to reproduce, so it will continue to produce beans. If you want to harvest some dried beans or seeds from your plants, let the last batch of beans remain on the vines until the pods are dried and yellowed. The seeds inside can be saved until next year. Some beans are intended for drying (or can be eaten either fresh or dried). Those beans, such as Cherokee Trail of Tears, Rattlesnake and Cannellini, can be left on the plants until they are dry, then remove the dried beans for your next batch of chili or baked beans.

Pests and Diseases

The biggest pest I have found with beans are rabbits, who have a nasty habit of munching the top off of seedlings as they emerge from the soil. Fencing or other cover is about the only way to keep them off the beans. Cutworms or bean leaf beetles can also be a problem. Beans can also be bothered by fungal diseases, but these can be reduced by not crowding the vegetable garden so there is adequate air circulation.

For a more in-depth discussion of green beans, University of Minnesota Extension has fact sheet worth exploring. The recipe for the green bean salad is here.

Tendergreen Improved

Learning Download: How to Grow Beans

Beans are referred to as a number of names including snap beans, string beans and green beans. Known as being one of the more productive garden crops, they are a warm weather favorite that can be eaten straight from the garden.

Before Planting: Beans prefer full sun, at least 6-8 hours a day. The soil temperature should be above 60°F before planting for best germination rates, and they do best with soil temperatures in the 70-80°F range. Beans don’t need the best soil conditions to thrive as they are often used to improve soil conditions because they will fix nitrogen in the soil. The preferred soil pH is about 5.8 to 6.5. Green beans can be successfully grown in containers.

Planting: For bush beans, plant the seeds about 1-1.5 inches deep, maybe 2 inches deep in the summer for a fall planting. The rows should be 2.5 to 3 feet apart. After the beans are up, thin the plants to 3 to 4 inches apart. For pole beans, plant 1 inch deep and 3 feet apart. Place a stake between each planted seed. As the bean vines mature, they will grow up the stakes. To ensure bean germination in each location plant 2-3 seeds.

Watering: Water beans with about 1 inch of water a week. Do not let the soil get dry while the beans are blooming or the blooms will drop and yields will be decreased. If possible, avoid wetting leaves. This will help minimize plant diseases.

Fertilizer: After the plants begin to flower and set beans, apply 1/2 cup of general purpose fertilizer for every 10 feet of row. Scatter the fertilizer between the rows. This will help the plants produce more beans. Water the plants after fertilizing. You can also side dress the rows with general purpose fertilizer at planting time.

Days to Maturity: Ranges from 60-75 days depending on variety. If planted early many areas can produce a fall crop.

Harvesting: Beans should be picked while the pods still snap, and the beans have not filled the pod out completely. Beans get tough and stringy if allowed to grow too big. If beans are picked when they are ready, the plants will continue producing for several weeks. When harvesting, use two hands to hold the bean and pull it from the stem, yanking it off the stem with one hand can often damage the plant.

Storing: Store fresh beans in plastic bags or in other containers in the refrigerator. They usually can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or so. Some varieties can also be canned or frozen.

Pests & Diseases: Molds, bacterial, and wilt diseases are common. These problems are most frequent in wet weather, heat, and humidity. If spots appear on leaves or bean pods, treat the plant with an approved fungicide. Before using a pesticide, read the label. Always follow cautions, warnings and directions. Most varieties of beans are susceptible to a variety of insects and rodents, most notably beetles. Rabbits can eat the tender new leaves. A rabbit fence may be necessary to keep them from ruining your crop.

Disease Resistance Abbreviations: C – Common Bean Mosaic; CT – Curly Top; N – New York 15 Virus; P – Pod Mottle; R – Rust

Tips: Beans can be harvested at any size as long as the pods are firm and crisp. Be sure to pick beans frequently to ensure the crop keeps producing. Try using organic mulches, such as straw, grass clippings, or composted leaves to help to retain moisture and control weeds.

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