Alphabetical Plant Listing

Phaseolus vulgaris - Green Beans

Beans, Green Beans, French Beans, Bush Beans, Pole Beans, Wax Beans, String Beans, Snap Beans


Green beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) are a staple in many vegetable gardens and kitchens because they are easy to grow, enrich the soil, contribute to flavorful recipes, and are a nutritious addition to your diet. Also known as snap beans, string beans, pole beans, and bush beans, green beans are tender annuals grown for their flavorful fruits.

  • Green beans belong to the plant family, Fabaceae, also known as the legume, pea, or bean family, which includes lentils, chickpeas, peas, and peanuts.
  • Although often considered a vegetable, beans are botanically classified as a fruit, as they grow from a flowering plant and contain seeds.
  • Green beans are native to Central and South America and have been cultivated for thousands of years. Today, they grow all over the world.
  • Unlike many other varieties of beans, green beans are harvested and eaten with their pods before the bean seeds inside have fully matured.
  • Green beans are divided by growth habit into two major groups: bush beans (dwarf) and pole beans (climbing).
  • Green beans can be bought fresh, canned, or frozen. They can be consumed raw or steamed, boiled, stir-fried, or baked.
  • Although most green beans are green, they also come in cream, yellow and purple varieties.
  • Green beans fix nitrogen and add nutrients that improve the soil, benefitting the plants that are growing beside them. Beans are great for heavy nitrogen users.

Bush Beans or Pole Beans – Which One Should You Grow?

Bush Beans

Bush beans are green beans that grow on a compact, bushy plant.

  • Grow up to two 2-3 feet tall (60-90 cm). Since bush beans are compact and do not require much space, they can be planted in smaller gardens.
  • Do not require support. Bush bean plants do not require support from a structure such as a trellis to thrive.
  • Have a shorter production time. Bush beans are ready to harvest within 50-55 days of planting, depending on the variety.
  • Yield fewer beans over a shorter period. Bush beans produce fewer bean pods all at once. To get a continuous supply of bush beans, plant them every two weeks during the growing season.
  • Require less maintenance as a result of their smaller size.
  • Are more disease-prone. Since bush beans grow in bushy rows, they retain moisture and humidity around them. They may be affected by powdery mildew, anthracnose, mosaic virus, and white mold.
  • Popular bush bean varieties include Derby, Roma II, Maxibel, Royal Burgundy, Dragon Tongue, Bush Kentucky Wonder, Provider, Tendercrop, Blue Lake, Goldcrop Wax, and Improved Golden Wax.

Pole Beans

Pole beans are green beans that grow as tall twining climbers.

  • Grow up to 10-15 feet tall (300-450 cm). Pole beans are large plants that can shade other beds, limiting the type of crops you can grow. They are great for larger gardens.
  • Require support. Since pole beans grow tall, they require trellis, tepees, or bamboo supports. Corn is a good companion for Pole beans since it provides support for the bean plants to climb up.
  • Have a longer production time. Pole beans are ready to harvest within 55-65 days of planting, depending on the variety.
  • Yield more beans over a longer period. Unlike bush beans which produce their beans all at once, pole beans will produce for a month or two with regular harvesting.
  • Require more maintenance. Pole beans need to be pinched out when they reach the top of their supports.
  • Are mostly disease-resistant. Pole beans are not as susceptible to diseases and viruses as bush beans. Pole bean plants dry off fast after rain because they grow straight up where the air can dry them.
  • Popular pole bean varieties include Seychelle, Blue Lake, Romano Italian, Kentucky Blue, and Kentucky Wonder Wax.

Health Benefits of Green Beans

  • While green beans make a flavorful addition to various dishes, they can also provide health benefits.
  • While green beans are low in calories (raw green beans are 90% water), they are full of antioxidants, such as vitamin C, flavonols, quercetin, and kaemferol, which help fight free radicals. Vitamin C strengthens the immune system.
  • Green beans are loaded with fiber, which may help lower bad cholesterol levels and improve your heart health. Fiber also helps regulate the digestive tract and keep your digestive system healthy.
  • A single cup of green beans contains about one-third of your daily recommended folate intake. Folate helps lower the risk of birth defects and is also important for reducing depression.
  • Green beans are rich in vitamin K and contain a reasonable amount of calcium. Both nutrients are important for maintaining strong, healthy bones.
  • Green beans contain proteins that benefit a healthy immune system and help maintain healthy bones, hairs, organs, and muscles.
  • Green beans provide a decent source of iron that can help prevent anemia.
  • Green beans are also a source of vitamin A to maintain healthy organ functioning, potassium to balance fluid levels, and other amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins B1 and B2.
  • Cooked green beans lose 30% of their potassium, iron, and magnesium and 20% of their vitamin C content.

Growing Green Beans

  • Green beans grow up to 2-15 ft. tall (60-450 cm) and 2-3 ft. wide (60-90 cm), depending on the variety.
  • Green beans perform best in fertile, acidic to neutral (pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.0), moist, well-drained soils in full sun (at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day) in a sheltered location.
  • If your soil lacks nutrients, add well-rotted organic matter or compost before planting.
  • Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. Bean plants do require consistent and even moisture once they have formed flowers.
  • Depending on the variety, bush beans take 50-55 days to harvest after planting. Pole beans take 55-65 days to harvest after planting.
  • Green beans are a warm-weather crop and grow best between 65-85°F (18-29°C).
  • Green beans are sensitive to frost and will suffer damage from even a light frost. Green beans perform poorly when temperatures rise above 85°F (29°C).
  • Sow seeds outdoors anytime after the last spring frost date after the soil has warmed. At soil temperatures below 60°F (15°C), most bean cultivars germinate poorly and are more susceptible to pests and root rot.
  • Do not start green bean seeds indoors because their roots are fragile and may not survive transplanting.
  • Soak seed in compost tea for 25 minutes before planting to help prevent disease and speed germination.
  • Bush beans: sow 1 inch deep (2.5 cm) and 2 inches apart (5 cm) in rows 18 inches apart (45 cm).
  • Pole beans: set up trellises or other supports before planting, then sow 1 inch deep (2.5 cm) around your supports.
  • Plant additional seeds every 2 weeks for a continuous harvest.
  • Beans are soil builders. They rarely need any fertilizer during the growing season.
  • Mulch to retain moisture, keep the soil cool, and control weeds.
  • Pinch off the tops of your pole bean vines when they reach the top of the support - to direct the energy of the plant into producing beans in greater abundance.
  • Rotate crops: Prevent problems by not planting beans in the same location more often than every 3 years.
  • Compost plants after harvest. Cut them at the root. The nutrient-rich roots can be tilled back into the soil.
  • Green beans are susceptible to a few pests. Keep an eye out for aphids, blackflies, cucumber beetles, cutworms, grasshoppers, Japanese beetles, Mexican bean beetle, root-knot nematodes, slugs, snails, spider mites, Stinkbugs, thrips, whiteflies, and wireworms.
  • Green beans are susceptible to diseases, including anthracnose, bean mosaic virus, powdery mildew, bean root rot, bean rust, and white mold.

Harvesting and Storing Green Beans

  • Pick firm beans, as thick as a pencil, with no visible bulges, and can be snapped.
  • If the inside seeds are bulging, your green beans are past their peak and will not taste their best.
  • Harvest your green beans regularly to stimulate further production.
  • Keep beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Alternatively, blanch and freeze immediately after harvesting.

Best and worst Companion Plants for Green Beans

  • Beans are great for heavy nitrogen users. They add nutrients and improve the soil, benefitting the plants that are growing beside them.
     
  • A good example of companion planting is The Three Sisters Garden. Practiced by Native Americans thousands of years ago, this garden includes corn, beans, and squash. The tall corn provides shade for the lower squash but also stops the squash vine borer beetle. Corn also provides support for the bean plants to climb up. The beans enrich the soil with nutrients for both corn and squash. And the large leaves of the squash vines create a protective mulch that helps retain moisture while suppressing weeds. Another added benefit is the prickly vines of the squash deter the raccoons from stripping the corncobs.
     
  • Mexican bean beetles can reduce the production of green beans if allowed to multiply. Their damage is reduced spectacularly when beans are interplanted with other vegetables and herbs.
     
  • Green beans are divided by growth habit into two major groups: bush beans (dwarf) and pole beans (climbing).

 

Best and Worst Companion Plants for Bush Beans

Best and Worst Companion Plants for Pole Beans

 

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Requirements

Hardiness 2 – 11
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, A1, A2, A3, H1, H2
Plant Type Annuals, Fruit
Plant Family Phaseolus - Beans
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Mid,Late)
Fall
Height 2' – 15' (60cm – 4.5m)
Spread 2' – 3' (60cm – 90cm)
Water Needs Average
Maintenance Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained

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While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.


Requirements

Hardiness 2 – 11
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, A1, A2, A3, H1, H2
Plant Type Annuals, Fruit
Plant Family Phaseolus - Beans
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Mid,Late)
Fall
Height 2' – 15' (60cm – 4.5m)
Spread 2' – 3' (60cm – 90cm)
Water Needs Average
Maintenance Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained

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