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How to Grow Pole Lima Beans

By Joshua Duvauchelle ; Updated September 21, 2017

Instead of buying lima beans in the store, grow your own fresh crop at home. Gardeners can choose either determinate or indeterminate lima bean varieties. Indeterminate lima beans, also known as pole or vining lima beans, send out long tendrils that can grow 10 feet or longer. Such varieties produce lima beans longer than determinate varieties, according to the University of Delaware.

Choose a gardening area. Lima beans thrive in sunny areas that receive at least seven hours of sun daily.

Ready the ground. Break up the soil into fine clumps to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Mix in 2 inches of aged compost, since lima beans grow best in organic-material-rich soil.

Sow the lima bean seeds. Bury each seed 1 inch under the soil surface and separate multiple seeds by 6 inches. If you're growing multiple rows of lima beans, space each row apart by 36 inches.

Water the lima bean seeds twice daily or as needed to keep the soil moist. The seeds will typically germinate within two weeks. Continue twice-daily watering, moistening the soil to a depth of 6 inches to keep the thirsty plants hydrated.

Add mulch around the base of the lima bean plants once they're 2 to 3 inches tall. Mulch helps conserve soil moisture and also conditions the soil. Potential mulching materials include compost, grass clippings and shredded leaves.

Erect support for the lima bean vines. Pound a 12-foot pole or garden stake 2 feet into the soil approximately 12 inches from the lima bean seedling. Pound two more poles into the ground, spaced equal distances from each other and the plant to form a triangle.

Pull the three poles inward toward each other so their tops meet. Tie the tops together with garden twine to form a tepee-like structure. Depending on your spacing, two bean plants may share a tepee. Such sharing is fine.

Train the pole lima beans onto the tepee. As the plant sends out flexible tendrils, wrap the tendrils around the nearest pole. After several weeks of wrapping, the vine will begin climbing up the trellis on its own.

Harvest the lima bean crop. Depending on the variety, the beans will start being ready for harvest within 60 to 90 days of planting. Harvest the bean pods when they measure 2 to 3 inches in length and are swollen with the visible shapes of beans.


Things You Will Need

  • Spade
  • Aged compost
  • Lima bean seeds
  • Mulch
  • 12-foot poles
  • Garden twine


  • Keep picking the lima bean pods as soon as they become ready for harvesting rather than waiting for all the pods to be ready at once. This encourages constant pod production.

About the Author


Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.