How to Grow Green Beans

Sally Painter
Farmer's hands harvesting green beans

Learning how to grow green beans is simple and easy. Beans will continue to produce throughout the growing cycle as long as you regularly pick the bean pods.

Importance of Knowing How to Grow Green Beans

It is important that you understand the nuances for growing green beans. Pole beans and bush beans grow differently, but both offer great opportunities for canning, drying and freezing. They do have the following in common:

  • Zone: You can grow green beans if you live in the hardiness zones 3 through 10.
  • Temperatures for growth: Green beans will grow in high 70°s to mid-90°s. Green beans will stop producing when temperatures climb into the high 90°s and 100°+ but will resume once the temperatures lower.
  • Pollination: Green beans are considered self-pollinators since each flower has both female and male components.
  • Blooming/pods: Green bean pods emerge at the time of blooming.
  • Water: Green beans require 1"-1 ½" of water each week.
  • Increase yields: You can encourage green bean yields with a daily picking. Green bean production can be stunted if you fail to pick the beans when they're ready.

Sunlight Requirement for All Green Beans

Choose a sunny location. Your garden should receive a minimum of six hours of sunlight each day. Ideally, you should set the rows to run north to south to take advantage of the tracking sun.

Prepare and Amend the Soil for Green Beans

Whether you're planting bush or pole green beans you want a loamy soil. If you're working with a garden plot that has never been used before, once you have plowed or tilled the area, you want to add any amendments at least two to three weeks before you sow seeds.

Applying fertilizer to soil

How to Amend Clay Soil

If your soil is mostly clay, you need to add amendments to make it loamy enough for green beans to be happy. You can add compost, mulch and/or sand to change the clay soil consistency.

Adding Manure to Soil

If you don't have any compost, you can mix chicken or cow manure into the soil. Spread the manure about 2" thick over the soil and then work into the soil with a tiller.

Compost Best Soil Amendment

The best soil amendment is compost created from decomposed plant materials. If your soil is mostly clay, you can amend it with mulch, compost and/or manure.

10-20-10 Fertilizer

If you don't have compost or manure, you can add a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-20-10 fertilizer. This combination is 10 pounds of nitrogen, 20 pounds of phosphorus and 10 pounds of potassium.

Nitrogen By Product

A by product of green beans is nitrogen, so you don't want to overdose on fertilizer with high nitrogen levels, otherwise you'll end up with lots of leaves and very few beans. The nitrogen is why beans and corn make good companion plants since corn is a heavy nitrogen feeder.

Add an Inoculant

Adding a natural legume inoculant will ensure the beans are super charged with nitrogen producing bacteria. Add a few granules directly into the hole when you plant the seeds.

How to Direct Sow Green Beans

Basic instructions for planting green beans using the direct sow method are the same for both bush and pole beans.

When to Plant Green Beans

You want to direct sow plants when the soil temperature is around 55° with an optimum of 71° when the first seeds break through the ground. Avoid planting too soon or you could lose the seeds to unexpected late frosts or to rot from rain soaked soil.

Instructions

  1. Create single rows set 1'-2' apart.
  2. Plant two bean seeds together every 4"-6" inches 1"-2" deep.
  3. Water once you've completed planting, using slow flow so you don't dislodge the seeds.
  4. Beans break through the soil within one week.
  5. When plants are 3"-4" high, cut the weaker plant at ground level with a pair of scissors.
  6. A good rule of thumb is to remove any plants every 4" to ensure you leave healthy plants plenty of room to grow.
  7. It takes between 45 to 55 days from the day of planting to harvest your first green beans.
  8. Harvest beans when they are 4" to 8". Mature length depends on variety, so refer to the seed packet.
  9. Keep the beans picked so the plants will continue to produce beans.
  10. Most green beans will produce for six to eight weeks.

How to Plant Bush Green Beans

Bush green beans are compact plants that can grow up to two feet high. While these plants don't need support, strong winds can topple them over and you may need to right them unless severely damaged.

Green beans

Direct Sow in Fields, Raised Beds or Containers

Most gardeners direct sow bush green bean seeds. The most common type of planting is in field rows, although you can plant green beans in raised beds or grow bags/containers should you choose. You may need to water grow bag/container green beans more often than raised bed or field row green beans.

Helpful Tips for Growing Bush Beans

Bush beans will produce beans at one time. You'll need to pick the beans immediately to prevent signaling the plants to stop producing. This harvesting at the same time can overwhelm gardeners with big gardens.

Two-Week Succession Planting

You can make your harvests more manageable by planting your bean crop every two weeks. This means that you'll plant the first group and then two weeks later plant the next group. You can have as many two week plantings as needed. This succession gardening technique allows continuous production while limiting the harvest to manageable increments.

Maturation Rate

Bush beans mature faster than pole beans since pole beans require enough time to vine up the poles or trellis. Bush beans reach maturity, depending on the variety in 45 to 60 days of planting.

Yield Rate

You can decide how many bush green bean plants you need by using a simple formula. The average bush green bean plant will produce around 6-9 quarts of canned beans, depending on variety and growing conditions. The rule of thumb is you can feed a family of four with a 100 foot row of bush green beans. Another rule is to plant 10-15 bush green bean plants per person.

How to Grow Pole Green Beans

You will follow the same instructions for planting pole beans as you do with bush beans by planting two bean per hole. Most poles can support two plants, so plant on either side of the pole.

Growing the beans

Helpful Tips for Growing Pole Green Beans

Pole beans will grow as tall as the supports. The green bean vines will wrap themselves around the supports and spiral upward. It isn't unusual for the vines to grow above the poles or trellis. Some facts about pole beans may help you decide if they are right for your garden. These include:

  • Vertical gardening has many advantages over field row gardening.
  • Pole green beans present greater land use as well as higher yields than row crops.
  • Pole beans are exposed to temperatures more than bush plants, so excessively hot weather can stop bean production.

Pole Green Beans in Raised Beds

Pole beans are a great solution for raised beds where square foot gardening is a premium. You can nearly double your yield when you opt for pole beans over bush beans in a raised bed. You can plant nine green bean plants per square foot.

Poles, Trellises and Teepees

Two popular ways of growing pole beans is with bamboo or willow canes. You can use different methods for staking and setting up homemade poles, trellises or teepees in your row or raised bed gardens. You may decide to plant green beans in grow bags or other containers, especially if you have limited space, such as a terrace or patio gardening area.

Maturation Rate

Most pole green beans require 55-65 days for maturation. Once the beans begin to bloom and create pods, they will continue for eight weeks or longer. Keep the beans picked to encourage more growth.

Pole Green Bean Yields

Some pole green beans have a longer growing season than bush beans. Some pole green beans varieties produce twice as much as bush green beans. The rule of thumb for one year's worth of canned beans per person is to plant 5-8 pole green bean plants per person.

Learning How to Grow Green Beans

When you learn how to grow green beans, you understand that bush and pole beans have the same kind of nutrient, watering and sunlight requirements. If you have a large field, you may prefer to grow bush green beans while small spaces and raised beds offer solutions with vertical growing techniques.

How to Grow Green Beans