How to Prepare Bean Seeds for Planting


Beans come in both pole and bush varieties, and each variety has many types ranging from snap beans to black beans. Beans require nitrogen in the soil in order to flourish. They fix this themselves, so there is no need to add additional nitrogen. To do so they require rhizobial bacteria. Many seeds purchased from seed catalogs have already been treated with this bacteria, but not all. If you are using seeds you or another gardener have saved from a previous crop you will need to treat them yourself, especially if planting in a new bed. The bacteria treatment is available from seed suppliers.

Step 1

Mix 1 cup sugar and 1 cup warm water together in a bowl. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Step 2

Place inoculate in a small bowl. Wet seed in the sugar mixture and roll in inoculate, making sure the seed is evenly coated. The sugar water acts as an adhesive to hold the inoculate to the seed.

Step 3

Sow seeds immediately after inoculating. Plant to a depth of 1 inch, spacing bush varieties 4 inches apart and pole varieties 6 inches apart.

Step 4

Return any unused portion of inoculate to its bag and store in a cool dry place for later use.

Step 5

Water after planting, applying approximately 1 inch of water over the entire bed. Water as needed to keep the soil slightly moist each week.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not soak seeds before planting as they will rot. Wet immediately before inoculating, do not dump all the seeds in the water. Inoculates are available for many pea and bean varieties, make sure to use the right one for the variety you are planting.

Things You'll Need

  • Bowl
  • Sugar
  • Bean inoculate powder


  • New Mexico State University Extension
  • University of Illinois Extension
Keywords: preparing bean seeds, inoculating beans, rhizobial bacteria treatment

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.