How to Grow a Lima Bean


A single cup of lima beans provides a whopping 38 grams of protein and lots of iron, according to's analysis. Grow your own nutrient-rich lima beans in your backyard for a tasty and healthy addition to salads and your favorite recipes. Start planting the lima beans three weeks after the last frost date in your area. This is a cool-season crop, and waiting too long will shorten your harvest time once the summer heat hits.

Step 1

Select a garden plot. Lima beans require direct sunlight for six to seven hours per day.

Step 2

Prepare the ground. Use a spade to breakup the soil to a depth of 6 inches. Add 2 to 3 inches of compost to the ground and thoroughly mix it into the soil. Lima beans thrive on dirt that's rich in organic material.

Step 3

Plant the lima beans. Sink each seed approximately 1 to 2 inches deep. Indeterminate (vining) varieties should be planted half a foot apart. Determinate (bush) varieties should be planted 3 to 4 inches apart. If you're planting more than one row, space bush lima bean rows by 2 feet and vining lima beans by 3 feet.

Step 4

Water the beans twice a day. They will germinate and break the soil surface in seven to 10 days. Continue watering twice daily; insufficient water will cause the bean pods to be stunted in growth or crack and split.

Step 5

Add a trellis or wire cone next to each plant if you're growing vining lima beans. Such beans can reach a height of up to 12 feet or more, but this varies by variety. Use a trellis, available from all garden stores and nurseries, that's appropriate for your variety's height. If you're unsure, consult the seed packet for your specific variety. Train the beans onto the trellis by wrapping the plant's new tendrils around the support. Over time, they will naturally begin climbing upward.

Step 6

Harvest the lima beans. Most lima beans are ready two to three months after sowing the seeds. Pick the beans when they are approximately 2 inches in length and feel firm and plump. Continually picking the beans as they mature encourages continuous bean production.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade
  • Compost
  • Lima bean seeds
  • Trellis (optional)


  • "Burpee Garden Cyclopedia: A Concise, Up-to-date Reference For Gardeners At All Levels"; Maureen Heffernan, et al.; 2002
  • "The Vegetable Gardener's Bible, 10th ed."; Edward Smith; 2009

Who Can Help

  • Lima Bean Facts
Keywords: growing lima beans, plant lima bean, grow lima bean plants

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.