How to Pole Lima Beans


Lima beans, packed with protein and vitamins, often taste better when harvested straight from a backyard vine rather than purchased from a grocery store. Indeterminate lima beans, unlike bush beans, grow clingy vines. Vining varieties include the "Speckled Calico" lima bean and the "Big Mama." Such varieties need support from poles to keep them from crawling along the ground where they are more susceptible to damage and insect pests. Establish a system to pole lima beans before planting the seeds.

Step 1

Set up the poles before you plant the lima beans and prepare the soil. Purdue University Extension recommends adding 1/2 cup of standard 5-10-5 vegetable fertilizer for every 25 feet of lima bean rows, and pounding a 6-foot pole approximately 8 inches into the ground a foot from where you'll plant the lima bean.

Step 2

Pound in two more poles, the same distance from the future lima bean plant, to form a triangle with the first pole.

Step 3

Bend all three poles inward at the top and tie them together with garden twine or a rope.

Step 4

Plant the lima bean underneath the tripod setup. Bury the seed 1/2 to 1 inch deep. Water the seed twice daily or as needed to keep the soil moist. It will germinate within 10 to 14 days and will form a trainable vine within three weeks, according to the University of Hawaii Extension.

Step 5

Train the lima bean vine onto the poles once it has developed curly tendrils. Wrap each of the tendrils around the pole nearest it. If the vine's curls are too loose to cling to the pole, secure it to the trellis with garden twine.

Step 6

Continue wrapping the growing tendrils around the poles. After several weeks of manually wrapping the vine around the trellis, the bottom end of the vine will have hardened and molded itself to the pole while the growing tip naturally begins to climb upward.

Tips and Warnings

  • Pounding in the poles after a lima bean plant has already started growing many injure the plant's underground roots.

Things You'll Need

  • Vegetable fertilizer
  • Poles
  • Garden twice or rope
  • Lima beans


  • "The Vegetable Gardener's Bible, 10th ed."; Edward Smith; 2009
  • "The Royal Horticultural Society: Growing Vegetables"; Tony Biggs, et al.; 1999
  • Purdue University Extension: Growing Beans in the Home Vegetable Garden
  • University of Hawaii Extension: Home Garden Beans
Keywords: pole lima beans, train bean vines, lima bean poles

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.