How to Germinate Bean Seeds


Bean seeds, whether you are planting pole or bush varieties, germinate best when direct seeded into the garden bed. Beans are warm-season vegetables, so planting them to early in spring causes them to rot in the cold, overly damp soil. Proper planting times and methods are crucial to successful germination and healthy growth of your bean plants. Because beans grow quickly, they are suitable for most areas, even if the warm summer period is short. The seeds can also be pre-sprouted indoors, then planted, especially if you are concerned that the seeds might no longer be viable.

Direct Seeding

Step 1

Prepare a well-draining garden bed in full sun. Work a 2-inch layer of compost into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil to improve drainage in the bed.

Step 2

Sow bean seeds after all danger of frost has passed and when soil temperatures have reached at least 60 F. Sow seeds 1 inch deep. Space pole varieties 4 to 6 inches apart, and space bush beans 2 to 4 inches apart.

Step 3

Water the bed after planting to moisten it, then lay down a 2-inch layer of organic mulch, such as straw. Mulching preserves soil moisture but also protects the seeds during germination from temperature fluctuations. Seeds will germinate in about seven days.

Step 4

Water the garden bed once a week both before and after germination. Provide about 1 inch of water each week.

Pre-sprouting Seeds

Step 1

Moisten a double layer of paper towels until it is evenly damp. Set the bean seeds on top the towel, then fold it over so the beans are in contact with the damp towel on both sides.

Step 2

Place the paper towel and seeds inside a plastic bag. Place the bag in a warm room until the seeds germinate. Check the towel daily to ensure it is still damp, and add more water if necessary.

Step 3

Remove the beans from the bag once sprouting occurs. Leave them in the damp towel while preparing the garden bed.

Step 4

Dig 1-inch deep planting holes in a full-sun, well-drained bed. Place the germinated beans in the holes with the sprout on the top. Refill each hole with soil, and water thoroughly. Beans will continue to grow in the bed.

Tips and Warnings

  • Beans do not tolerate competition from weeds well. Using mulch also helps prevent weeds, or cultivate the top inch of soil between the plants to prevent weed growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Spade
  • Mulch
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic bag


  • Ohio State University Extension: Plant Propagation
  • University of Illinois Extension: Beans Watch Your Garden Grow
Keywords: germinating bean seeds, planting beans, vegetable garden

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.