How To Grow Delicious Runner Beans

Written by: Lars Nyman

Growing Runner Beans

Growing Runner Beans

Runner beans are a type of legume popularly grown as a vegetable crop in warm climates. Unlike other beans, they are climbing plants, growing and flowering over fences, posts, and other support structures. Runner beans are oftentimes planted in both the spring and summer seasons, producing thick, fleshy pods of beans packed with nutrients. Runner beans are highly versatile, suitable for simmering, canning, and grilling, and can also be eaten raw.

Runner Beans Growing Cheatsheet

๐ŸŒฑ Choose the Right Variety

Opt for reliable and flavorful varieties like "Enorma" or "Scarlet Emperor".

๐ŸŒž Find the Perfect Spot

Plant in full sun and ensure well-draining soil with a pH of 6-7.

๐Ÿ’ฆ Water Regularly

Keep soil moist, especially during flowering and pod development.

๐ŸŒฑ Support Your Plants

Provide sturdy trellises or bamboo canes to help them climb and spread.

๐Ÿ Encourage Pollination

Attract bees and other pollinators with companion flowers like marigolds.

๐Ÿ› Watch for Pests

Beware of black bean aphids and slugs; use organic pest controls if needed.

๐ŸŒฑ Harvest at the Right Time

Pick beans when they snap easily, before seeds become too apparent.

๐Ÿฅ˜ Enjoy Nutritious Meals

Runner beans are rich in fiber, iron, and vitamin Cโ€”perfect for health-conscious cooks.

๐ŸŒฟ Preserve the Harvest

Blanch then freeze excess beans for year-round deliciousness.

๐ŸŒฑ Rotate Crops

Prevent disease and maintain soil fertility by rotating with other vegetable families yearly.

๐ŸŒฟ Save Seeds

Become self-sufficient by saving seeds from your best plants for future harvests.

Growing Runner Beans: A Comprehensive Guide

Choosing the Right Variety

When it comes to growing runner beans, variety is key. The classic Scarlet Emperor is a personal favorite of mine due to its high yield and brilliant red flowers.

If space is a concern, opt for Hestia, a dwarf variety that packs all the flavor without the towering vines.

You'll find that choosing the right variety can set the stage for a bountiful harvest.

Preparing the Soil

Healthy soil equals healthy beans. Loamy soil enriched with organic compost is ideal for runner beans.

Runner beans thrive in soil with a pH level of 6.0 to 6.8. Test your soil's pH and amend it if necessary.

I often say, "Feed the soil, not the plant," for a reason. Well-fed soil always yields the best results.

Sowing the Seeds

Sow seeds directly into the soil once the danger of frost has passed. Plant them about 5 centimeters deep and 15 centimeters apart.

For indoor sowing, plant in peat pots and transplant outside after hardening off. This method gives a head start, ensuring early harvests.

Supporting Growth

Runner beans need sturdy supports. I use bamboo canes to create a wigwam structure. A tepee shape allows beans to climb and reach sunlight efficiently.

Be sure to secure the structure well. These plants grow vigorously and can topple flimsy supports.

Watering and Feeding

Regular watering is crucial. Mulch around the base of the plants to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Apply a potassium-rich fertilizer once flowering begins to boost pod formation and improve flavor.

I've always found that consistent care makes all the difference during critical growing stages.


Pick beans when they are young and tender. If they grow too large, they become stringy and tough.

A good rule of thumb: harvest when the pods are about as thick as a pencil. This ensures peak flavor and texture.

Pest Control

Aphids and slugs can be problematic. I use neem oil for aphids and coffee grounds for slugs. These natural solutions keep my beans safe without chemicals.

Also, companion planting with marigolds can deter pests. The flowers attract beneficial insects and act as a natural pest barrier.

Common Challenges

Runner beans can struggle in extremely hot weather. Provide shade during heat waves to reduce stress on the plants.

Over-fertilizing can lead to lush foliage but few beans. Balance is essential to ensure good yields.

"Sometimes less is more," especially when it comes to fertilizer.

Personal Tips

Rotating crops yearly prevents soil depletion and reduces the risk of disease. Rotate runner beans with nitrogen-fixing plants for best results.

Keep a garden journal. Note what works and what doesnโ€™t for future reference. It's incredible how much you learn season to season.

Happy gardening, and may your runner beans be as delicious as mine!


What are the ideal growing conditions for runner beans?

Growing runner beans requires well-drained soil and full sun.

When should I plant runner beans?

Plant runner beans in spring, after the last frost.

How do I plant runner beans?

Plant runner beans 2 inches deep and 8 inches apart.

How often should I water runner beans?

Water runner beans regularly, keeping the soil moist.

Do runner beans need support?

Yes, runner beans require support structures or trellises to climb.

How long does it take for runner beans to grow?

Runner beans typically take 8 to 12 weeks to reach maturity.

When can I harvest runner beans?

Harvest runner beans when the pods are firm and about 6-8 inches long.

How do I preserve runner beans?

Freezing or canning are popular methods to preserve runner beans.

Can I save the seeds from runner beans for next year?

Yes, let the pods fully dry on the plant, then collect and store the seeds for next year.

Are runner beans prone to pests and diseases?

Yes, watch out for common pests like aphids and diseases like chocolate spot.

Runner Beans are a fantastic choice for the home vegetable gardener, providing an abundance of delicious beans for the kitchen with minimal effort. With quick germination and growth, they are easy to grow and trouble-free, producing big harvests in a short time. this makes them a great choice for beginner gardeners as well as experienced gardeners looking for a satisfying harvest of fresh beans.

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