Bean plants produce seeds used for livestock feed, culinary ingredients and ornamental purposes. A few types of beans, such as the castor bean, produce non-edible bean seeds. Although different varieties of bean plants display individual characteristics, they all produce seeds in pods. Farmers produce commercial bean crops across the United States. Numerous types of beans plants exist, giving home gardeners a wide selection to choose from, depending on individual climates and soil conditions.
Bean plants reproduce by seed production. Bean seeds exhibit a shape resembling a kidney. Depending on the individual type of bean seed grown, these seeds grow to form vine plants, known as pole beans, or upright, branching plants, known as bush beans. As these plants mature, they produce blossoms. After the blossoms wilt, elongated bean pods form in their place. The majority of bean plants grow as garden annuals or annual commercial crops.
Like many garden vegetables, bean plants require large amounts of sunlight. Average soil compositions with adequate drainage provide healthy growing mediums for bean plants. Tall bush beans, as well as pole beans, require support to keep the stems and leaves off the surface of the soil.
Although most beans grown by home gardeners find their way to the family's dinner table, some types of beans make interesting additions to landscapes and flower beds. Beans like the scarlet runner bean add interesting color to drab areas of yards and gardens. Bean vines provide quick cover along lattices and railing, creating living screens and dividers. Farmers grow beans as crops for livestock feed and human consumption.
Successful bean seed germination and mature growth requires planting the seeds in average, well-drained soil with adequate amounts of nutrients. Heavy clay soils or very sandy soils benefit by the addition of nutrient-dense compost. Once planted in soil, these seeds require adequate amounts of sun and water to germinate and grow. Too much water causes molding, known as dampening-off, in bean seedlings. Bean plants require slightly moist soil and may suffer during times of extended drought.
Although most bean plants thrive under average conditions, some plants suffer from diseases. A condition known as bacterial bean blight causes the appearance of yellow and brown spots on leaves and pods. Moisture and humidity cause this bacterial condition to thrive in affected plants. Removing dead vegetation and debris discourages the presence of this disorder. Some beans suffer from a disease known as mosaic disease, causing bean plants to produce negligible amounts of pods for harvesting.