Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)

Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)

By Josie Borlongan, Garden Guides Contributor

About Beans

The majority of beans belong to genus Phaseolus of Fabaceae family. They are commonly used for food or feed. Beans are also referred to as legumes in the United States.

They may consist of climbing or twining vine called a pole bean or can be a shrubby plant called bush bean.

Beans are considered vegetables that produce seedpods thatmay be cooked and eaten whole, while others are extracted and cooked or eaten raw. The seeds of some may be dried or frozen. Several of the plants are decorative as well as functional and may be used for screening or trained over arches.

Site Preparation

Beans require rich soils to which organic matter has been added before planting. Some beans such as the Scarlet runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus) require temperate and cool climates for growing with a minimum of 54 degrees F (12 degrees C) needed for germination, while others like the Lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus) require a tropical climate with a minimum temperature of 64 degrees F (18 degrees C) needed for germination.

Good drainage is essential to prevent root rot. Work plenty of well-rotted compost or manure into the soil before planting. Beans require low to medium nitrogen levels.

Special features
Beans are self-pollinated and are easy to germinate under specific conditions.

Choosing a Variety

There are a wide variety of beans, listed below are some of the most common ones.

Recommended Scarlet Runner Beans (Phaseolus coccineus):
Standard; Apricot Runner, Emperor, Prize Winner, Red Rum, Scarlet Runner and White Lady.

* Stringless; Desiree, Lady Di, Red Knight and White Knight.

Recommended Lima Beans (Phaseolus lunatus);
* Climbing; Florida Butter and King of the Garden.

* Dwarf; Dixie Butterpea, Eastland and Fordhook 242.

Recommended Snap Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris):
* Pole; Blue Lake, Kentucky Blue and Kentucky Wonder.

Bush; Bush Blue Lake, Dorable (wax), Goldcrop (wax), Provider, Rocdor (wax), Roma II, Royal Burgundy (purple podded) and Tenderlake.

* Beans for drying; Jacob's Cattle, Maine Yellow Eye and Vermont Cranberry.


Scarlet Runner Beans (Phaseolus coccineus):
Before planting climbing types, erect a strong support of poles or stakes over 8 feet (2.5 m) long, tied to a horizontal pole to create a tepee. You can also purchase towers or arches available in the market. Grow climbers in double rows 2 feet (60 cm) apart.

Sow seeds in their natural environment 2 inches (5 cm) deep, after all risk of frost has passed. Make sure to keep the minimum soil temperature at 59 degrees F (15 degrees C) required for germination. In cooler areas, you can sow seed indoors in seed trays; harden off seedlings before transplanting outside.

Lima Beans (Phaseolus lunatus):
Sow Lima beans in their natural environment, in spring or at other times of the year if temperatures are high enough. In temperate areas, sow seeds under cover, in trays, or in 3 to 3 1/2 inches (6 to 9 cm) pots at a depth of 1 inch (2.5 cm). When the seedlings are 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) tall, harden them off and transplant into well-prepared beds.

Space climbing cultivars 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm) apart, allowing 30 to 36 inches (75 to 100 cm) between rows; space the dwarf cultivars 12 to 16 inches (30 to 40 cm) apart with a distance of 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 cm) between rows.

Snap Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris):
Pre-germinate seeds before sowing by spreading the beans out on a moist tissue paper in a tray without drainage holes. Keep them damp, at a minimum of 54 degrees F (12 degrees C). When the delicate shoots start to appear, before they turn green, carefully plant them in pots. They can also be sown directly in their planting beds outside.

Sow snap beans in their natural environment or indoors at 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) deep similar to the scarlet runner beans. Make successive sowings throughout the summer. Cloches may be used to warm up the soil beforehand. Space the support poles also similar to the scarlet runner beans. In cold climates, cover with floating row covers to protect the plants.


Scarlet Runner Beans (Phaseolus coccineus):

Use floating row covers to protect the plants. Watering at a rate of 1 to 2 gallons per square yard (5 to 11 liters per square meter) twice a week is especially important when flower buds appear and pods are starting to set.

In early stages, slugs are a common problem and pollen beetles are common pests as well. Fungal leaf spots, foot and root rots, halo blight, Southern blight and viruses are also common problems for which to keep watch .

Lima Beans (Phaseolus lunatus):
Water the plants regularly and mulch to conserve moisture. Remove weeds from planting beds and protect young plants as necessary. Apply a general-purpose granular or liquid fertilizer every 10 to 14 days until flowering. Pinch the growing points of the dwarf cultivars to encourage bushy habit. Train shoots of climbing cultivars and tie to the stakes to train them.

Aphids, thrips, caterpillars, whiteflies and spider mites may cause problems for lima beans. Powdery mildew, fungal leaf spots and viruses are common problems for which to keep watch.

Snap Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris):
Support types are similar to scarlet runner beans. Use twigs to support intermediate types. Do not allow plants to dry out completely and add mulch to the planting beds to prevent moisture from escaping. Extra watering at a rate of 5 gallons per square yard (23liters per square meter) is necessary during flowering time or dry conditions.

Root aphids, slugs, black bean aphids, fungal leaf spots, foot and root rots, halo blight and viruses are common problems for snap beans. Spider mites may be a problem when under cover.

Harvesting and Storage

Scarlet Runner Beans (Phaseolus coccineus):
Harvest scarlet runner beans after 13 to 17 weeks. Pick pods when they are at least 7 inches (17 cm) long. Picking prolongs the cropping season. You can freeze scarlet runner beans to preserve them.

Lima Beans (Phaseolus lunatus):
Harvest lima beans whole pods young; about 12 to 16 weeks after sowing for mature seeds. Both can be stored above 39 degrees F (4 degrees C) at 90 percent humidity up to two weeks. Lima beans can be preserved by freezing.

Snap Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris):
Harvest snap beans after 7 to 13 weeks. Pick young beans regularly to use frozen or fresh. In damp climates, pull up plants and hang them by the roots in a dry, frost-free location. Remove the pods and extract the beans once dried.

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