How to Grow Pole Beans
Updated: Sep 15, 2022
A climbing vine type, pole beans are said to be even tastier than bush beans. They have a sweeter, starchier flavor and a longer harvest window.
To help ensure your Peas thrives, we’ve put together this how-to video and transcript covering topics like:
Varieties of Peas available
Caring for Peas at all stages
Fertilizer and Mulching
Transplanting best practices
Pole Bean Companion Plants
Pests, Diseases and what to do about them
Harvesting and storing your Peas
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Ready for a horticulture adventure full of pole bean crops? Lets do this!
Glossary of pole bean terms
When learning how to grow pole beans, getting to know the terms you'll hear floating around is a great place to start. So, let’s learn a bit about pole bean terms.
The first leaves that resemble those of a mature plant. These true leaves often have sharper edges as compared to the softer seedling leaves.
The fruit of bean plants which have seeds inside. These seeds grow to the bean shape and will grow bigger as the plant matures. Thinning: The process of gently removing seedlings at a certain growth stage to leave only the strongest and most mature plants behind. This encourages proper plant growth and allows your beans to thrive without any major competition for nutrients, water or light.
Plants that can either pollinate themselves or get pollinated by an external influence like insects.
The process of introducing rhizobia bacteria into your soil by adding it to the seeds before sowing. The bacteria store the nitrogen that your beans have taken out of the air. Typically, rhizobia bacteria is already in soil where nitrogen fixing plants have been grown before – but it’s always useful for your plant’s growth to inoculate your seeds.
Pole bean Varieties
How to grow pole beans comes with a variety of looks and flavours. Below are the best varieties for home gardeners and horticulture enthusiasts alike. From growing in containers to hobby farming, you'll love these.
These varieties are wide, romano-like, and have a rich and sweet flavor. Its pods are stringless and tender.
Long, slender beans that can grow to either 7 inches (18cm) as filet beans or to 11 inches (28cm). In both cases, the bean pods stay string-less and tender.
These heat-loving varieties need to be cooked in order to taste good. They have a sweet flavor and can be 16-20 inches (40-50cm) long.
Starting your pole bean seeds
How to grow pole beans when you're starting with seeds
Treating your seeds with inoculants before sowing them increases their chances for growing success.
Simply roll the seeds in the granular bacteria (which you can get online or at your local garden center), then set them into the soil.
Their ideal soil temperature in order to germinate is between 70-85°F (21-29°C), and typically, they germinate poorly in temperatures that are below 60°F (15°C).
Plant your beans 1 inch (2.5cm) deep, in hills with 4-6 seeds around the support structures you plan to use.
If seeding along trellises, plant your beans 3 inches (7.6cm) apart. The rows should then be about 3-4 feet (0.9-1.2m) apart.
You’ll also want to set your seeds on both sides of the fence or trellis.
Typically, pole bean seeds germinate poorly in temperatures that are below 60°F (15°C).
Caring for pole beans
How to grow pole beans at all stages
In this section, we’ll cover watering, fertilizing, and mulching of your crop. We’ll also talk companion planting as well as your growing structure options.
Pole beans grow best in full sun, but can tolerate some partial shade. They’ll thrive in a soil that has a pH between 6.0-6.5
Bean plants also need even moisture, especially when flowering and developing their pods.
Drought stress will reduce your yield, but you’ll also want to avoid wetting the leaves or touching wet leaves, since both can encourage disease growth.
It’s important to note that the pod development won’t be good when air temperatures are higher than 90°F (32°C).
And if your plants get too crowded around a pole or along a trellis, make sure to thin them to 6 inches (15.2cm) apart. This allows for more air circulation and helps their leaves dry faster (again, avoiding disease.).
FERTILIZING AND MULCHING
How to grow pole beans with the plant food and protection they want
Work some all-purpose fertilizer into your soil before planting. Other than that, beans generally don’t need any extra fertilization.
Since they naturally fix nitrogen in the soil, any added nitrogen promotes their leaf growth but reduces their pod production.
Grass clippings, wood chips or straw can be applied to retain moisture in your soil after the second set of true leaves have developed.
This also helps supress weeds that would otherwise compete for nutrients and water with your beans.
COMPANION PLANTS FOR POLE BEANS
Best companion plants for pole beans
Brassicas, carrots, leeks, celery, chard, corn, cucumber, eggplant, peas, potatoes, radish, strawberries are all great companions for beans.
That’s because beans fix nitrogen in the soil, which is beneficial to many plants and especially to heavy feeders.
The tall growth of your beans can also help cool-season crops like spinach and lettuce during warm weather.
It also pairs well with crops that grow on the ground like squashes. They keep the soil cool when temperatures rise.
Avoid growing with:
Chives, leeks, garlic, onion should all be avoided with your beans. Members of the onion family are typically harmful for the rhizobia bacteria that fix nitrogen in the soil with your beans.
Also, beets and beans will stunt each other’s growth – so you’ll want to avoid planting them too closely together.
GROWING STRUCTURE OPTIONS
How to grow pole beans with the support structures that help them stay strong.
Pole beans need a 5-8 feet (1.5-2.4m) tall support structure, since they can reach over 9 feet (2.7m) in height. Carefully attach your plants with twine to the structures as soon as they’re tall and mature enough.
Try not to pull the twine too tightly, because it can end up damaging your bean plant.
Crisscross: This trellis looks like a series of A’s joined by a crossbar.
Vertical: To make this trellis, stretch a wire horizontally between poles both on the top and bottom. Then, attach pieces of twine or strong string vertically between the top and bottom wires.
Tepee: This is a traditional four pole method. Poles should be about 12 feet (3.6m) long, then you can twine them together at the top so that you create a tepee-shaped structure.
Single pole: With this option, one strong pole is placed in the middle of a row, so that 1-2 plants can grow alongside it.
Wire fence: if you’ve already got a wire fence, this makes for a great support option.
The larger and deeper the pot, the more space you have to retain moisture. It also means you don’t need to water your beans as frequently.
These pots/containers should have a minimum soil depth of 8-9 inches (20-23cm), and make sure you can put them in a spot that gets enough sun exposure.
The soil in raised beds drains well and warms up faster, both of which help reduce the risk of disease infections.
It also protects your plants, since you won’t have to step on their soil directly in order to work on them.
Open fields usually provide the most space and the best chances to install your trellises. First, though, check your soil for its fertilizer requirements and possible diseases left over from your last harvest.
Typically, you don’t have to water open garden fields as often as you would container plantings.
Do not place these structures where your beans could shade any plants that need full sun.
Common challenges and their solutions
There are a few pests and diseases that can potentially harm your pole beans. Not to worry – we’ve outlined them below, as well as how to either avoid or fix the problem.
This can tell you that there’s a lack of moisture, poor soil fertility, or insect damage during your plant’s blooming.
How to grow pole beans without many of the common vegetable garden pests.
MEXICAN BEAN BEETLE
A copper-brown beetle with black spots that look like large ladybeetles, but feed on the leaves and lay their yellow-orange eggs on the undersides of leaves. Its spiny oval larvae also feed on the leaves, and both cause damage to your plants, which can sometimes affect your plant yields.
Solution: Hand-pick and destroy the beetles. Also, early plantings are less vulnerable to these pests.
They feed on the leaves and excrete “honeydew” which can cause molding and attract other pests. Aphids transmit many different plant viruses and cause leaves to curl and turn yellow.
Solution: Use a strong stream of water to wash the aphids off your plants.
There are also natural enemies like wasps or predatory flies that feed on them, so you can introduce these into your garden.
These small, light green to gray insects suck the plant’s juice. They can stunt your plant’s growth, and they also carry many diseases.
Solution: Currently, there aren’t any effective culture practices to treat these pests. So, if possible, plant virus resistant varieties.
These maggots are yellowish-white in color with a pointed head. They attack either the seeds or the roots, and are often attracted to seeds that have already been affected by diseases or insects.
Solution: Heavy manure attracts maggot flies that lay the eggs, so don’t use too much organic matter around your bean plants.
TWO SPOTTED SPIDER MITES
These pests feed on leaves and give them a speckled and dull appearance, eventually turning them yellow and causing them to drop. Large numbers of these pests produce webbings all over the leaves as well. Typically, they thrive around excess nitrogen as well as dry and dusty conditions.
Solution: Just like aphids, they can be washed off your plants with a strong water stream. Long periods of rain can also help shrink their numbers.
How to grow pole beans disease free. In general, you’ll want to practice a three-year crop rotation to reduce the risk for disease infections. Also, take care not to work on your plants when they’re wet.
A disease causing small, water-soaked spots to appear on the leaves, which then grow into dead spots.
This disease can also appear as water-soaked lesions on the pods, and can affect your plant’s ability to produce its pods.
Solution: Avoid crowding your plants to allow for good air circulation. Also, water early in the day so that your plants can dry as quickly as possible.
Eliminate any weeds around your plants as well.
BEAN COMMON MOSAIC VIRUS
This virus causes lesions on the leaves as well as blackened roots, and it’s either seed-borne or spread by aphids. If the entire plant becomes infected, you can lose the whole yield.
Solution: Remove and destroy any infected plants as well as the surrounding soil. Make sure to also control aphid populations on the plants to prevent their ability to spread the virus.
You can also plant resistant varieties like Lancer, Provider, Blue Bush 274, Golden Butterwax, Royal Burgundy, Tendercrop, and Improved Tendergreen.
Red-brown powdery spores will appear on the leaves, which are often surrounded by a yellow halo. Rust usually causes your plant to lose its leaves.
Solution: Rotate your beans with non-host crops.
Also, avoid long periods of leaf wetness when temperatures are warm, which are the perfect conditions for this virus.
Be sure to also disinfect poles and trellises to avoid the risk of infection in the future.
Small water-soaked spots will appear on your plant’s leaves, which grow bigger and turn tan or brown in color with a papery texture. When pods get infected, they’ll have rust colored lesions with a black ring and a brownish-red border. This disease usually thrives in extremely wet weather, and its spores are usually spread by splashing water.
Solution: Plant disease-resistant seeds when possible and practice good crop rotation.
Also, avoid using sprinklers or overhead irrigation, and water your plants from their base to keep leaves as dry as possible.
If you find it on your plants, make sure to destroy and compost the crop residue after harvest.
Harvesting and storing
How to grow pole beans foryour dinner plate and the pantry.
Pole beans are always climbing, so typically there are always pods in different maturity stages on your plant.
Make sure to keep picking them, otherwise your plant will stop producing new pods once they’ve all matured. In general, the smaller the bean, the more tender it’s.
NOTE: Bean plants take nitrogen from the air and store it along their roots in the soil. When those roots are left in the ground after harvest rather than pulled out, they can be worked into next year’s soil and will release their nitrogen.
That way, next year’s crop will benefit from the already existing nitrogen. Brassicas (like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower) tend to be a great follower after beans, since they need plenty of nitrogen to thrive.
Pole beans can be stored at temperatures around 40°F (5°C) for about a week.
For longer storage, you can briefly blanch them in boiling water. That short period of heat will kill off any pesky enzymes (which are notorious for reducing nutrients and causing your beans to break down in storage).
After that, simply dry and then freeze them.
Then, all that’s left to do is to enjoy your tasty pole beans.