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How to Grow a Bean in Cotton Wool

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Planting a bean in cotton wool turns gardening into a simple science project to share with children. To add an extra bit of knowledge to the experience, grow the bean in cotton wool in a clear container or a zippered plastic storage bag so everyone can watch the roots and sprout develop.

Clean and sterilize the container if you have used it before.

Line the bottom of the container with cotton wool. If you are using a zippered bag, fill it about halfway with the cotton wool.

Water the cotton thoroughly so it is completely saturated but not overly wet. You should not see dry cotton or standing water.

Position the beans on the cotton wool. For the zippered bag, lay them between the cotton wool and one side of the bag before sealing the zipper.

Place the container in a dry, cool place until the beans sprout and develop at least four leaves.

Grow Bean Seed In Cotton & Water

Dampen several cotton balls or other cotton material with warm water. Place the cotton in a clear plastic bag. A small sample bag can be used for a single bean, while a sandwich bag or quart-sized freezer bag should be used if germinating several beans. You don't need to press the beans into the cotton; just make sure they are in contact with it and not on top of other beans. Allow the beans to grow for several days until they are 2 to 3 inches long. This should be large enough to use in recipes or to transplant to your garden if you wish to grow full bean plants.


Beans will germinate faster if you soak them overnight to soften the seed coats. They will still grow if you don’t take this step, but it will take longer. Transplant the cotton wool with the beans when the sprouts are ready for a larger pot. Cover them with good quality soil.


Oversoaking the cotton wool may result in rotting beans or mildew on the growing medium.

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