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How to Grow Green Beans: Grow Tips for Pole and Bush Beans

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Apr 28, 2020 • 3 min read

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Green beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) are a tender, annual vegetable also known as string beans or snap beans. Green bean plants can grow easily in your vegetable garden, often producing large quantities, which are easy to care for and harvest.

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How to Plant Green Beans

Green bean crops have two growing styles: bush and pole. Bush beans grow out in a compact space, while pole beans grow on climbing vines. Both pole and bush beans need very similar conditions to grow.

  1. Sow seeds directly. Sow green bean seeds directly into your soil, rather than starting the growing process indoors. Bean plants have fragile roots, which makes them difficult to transplant.
  2. Check the temperature. Ensure that soil temperature is at least 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit before sowing green bean seeds to prevent slow germination or rot. Green beans are a warm-weather crop, which produces the highest yields in air temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Support the pole beans. Prior to planting pole beans, you will need to set up either a trellis or a teepee to support the beans as they grow. For the teepee method, gather at least three long branches or wooden poles together that are approximately six to seven feet in height, tying them together at the top, and splaying the bottoms of the supports in a circle. As vines emerge, begin winding them up the poles. This method will train the plant to continue winding throughout the growing season.
  4. Provide enough space. To plant bush bean seeds, sow them about one to one and a half inches deep and three inches apart, with your bean rows 18 inches apart. If you are planting pole beans, plant three or four seeds around each of the poles, four to eight inches apart, in rows that are two to three feet apart.

How to Grow Green Beans

Green beans are easy to grow, as they only require light maintenance and care to thrive.

  • Balance your soil pH. Green beans prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH of around 6.0. Green beans fix their own nitrogen, so a normal, rich soil can help produce quality plants without fertilization. (However, pole beans may require a supplemental compost halfway through their growing season if they are continuously producing crops).
  • Provide sun. Green bean plants need six to eight hours of full sun per day. Make sure your plants have access to direct sunlight. However, high temperatures can cause blossoms to fall from your green bean plants, so use row covers to protect plants from high heat.
  • Water properly. Beans need well-drained soil to keep from rotting or creating powdery mildew. Give your bean plants about two inches of water per week. Apply the water to the soil directly to keep your plants nourished.
  • Mulch. Your soil temperature should be at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and relatively moist. Mulching can help keep the ground warm, as well as your soil from drying out.
  • Sow more beans. For a continuous harvest, sow bean seeds every two weeks.
Ron Finley Teaches Gardening
Ron Finley Teaches Gardening
Ron Finley Teaches Gardening
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How to Harvest Green Beans

Bush beans are generally ready to harvest within 50–55 days, while pole beans can take 55 to 60 days. The bean pods are ready to harvest when they’re four to six inches long and slightly firm, and before the beans protrude through the skin. Gently pull the beans from the plant, taking care not to tear the blooms. Harvest often to promote more sprouting.

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Grow your own food with Ron Finley, the self-described "Gangster Gardener." Get the MasterClass All-Access Pass and learn how to cultivate fresh herbs and vegetables, keep your house plants alive, and use compost to make your community - and the world - a better place.

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