Bean plants grow in warm temperatures and produce beans. Some varieties grow on short bushes that stand on their own. Others grow on long, climbing vines and need a support to hold them up. These are known as a pole bean plants, from the use of poles to support them. Differences exist in the growing period, production, care and, some say, taste, between bush beans and pole beans.
Pole Bean Plants
Pole bean plants start as a bean seed and germinate in the soil in seven to 10 days if temperatures are above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. They are planted in hills, four at a time. Their water needs increase from low at sowing to high during harvest. The plant emerges and slowly reaches upward, but at 6 inches or more will begin to seek support and send out runners to help hold the plant up, latching on to poles, trellises or nearby plants. They produce white flowers followed by the fruit and will continue to do so for six to eight weeks. Beans can be left to dry on the vine at the end of the growing season to collect seeds for the following year.
Growing Pole Beans
Beans are a warm-temperature plant and should be planted after the danger of frost has passed. Pole beans can be planted outdoors as early as March 10 all the way through summer, though plants don't do as well when temperatures exceed 90 degrees. Plants must be trellised or supported and will require 5 to 6 feet of support height to climb. While it takes a little longer for the fruits to be ready to harvest--65 days instead of 58 for bush types--pole beans continue to produce fruit as long as you harvest. The more you pick, the more they'll produce.
Advantages to Pole Bean Plants
Because pole bean plants are trellised, finding and picking the beans is easier work. There is little stooping over and foraging through the leaves. Pole beans keep producing all season, as long as the fruits are steadily harvested. Bush bean plants produce for just a few weeks, and you need to plant successive batches to keep production going. While taste is a subjective matter, pole beans tend to be sweeter and more tender than bush bean varieties.
Using Pole Beans
Both pole beans and the plants themselves can be used in a variety of ways. The plants are grown both commercially and in home gardens. In home gardens where they provide food for the table, they can be grown in such a way as to add visual impact to the garden as well. The fruits can be picked and cooked fresh or stored by several means: freezing, canning or as dried beans. Dried beans can be stored and used as seed for up to five years.
Pole beans prefer well-drained soils with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. Soil with a pH under 5.5 should have lime worked into it to improve the pH. The instance of soil-borne diseases can be reduced by rotating crops every three years. Planting winter crops such as rye or alfalfa and plowing them under in the spring will help improve the soil's nutritional content too. Following simple practices such as these will ensure your pole bean plants produce well year after year.