Bean plants are grown either for their edible pods, or for their seeds. They grow in different ways, depending on the type of plant. Some bean plants grow in a bush form, while others are climbing plants (often called "pole" beans), which need support. Both types of bean plants have the same basic care needs in order to grow and thrive.
Beans vary in their temperature hardiness, depending on the species and cultivar. In general, these annual vegetables can be grown anywhere that has warm or hot summers. They can be planted as soon as the ground thaws enough to be easily worked, but well after any danger of frost. Beans are sensitive to cold and freezing temperatures, according to University of Illinois Extension.
Beans will not grow well if they germinate too early. These are not seeds that need to be soaked before planting. In fact, if the water content of the soil is too high, the seed coats will crack open too soon. Instead, plant them in dry soil and water afterward, or plant right before rain is predicted.
Newly sprouted beans cannot compete well with weeds. Hand cultivation of nearby weeds is important to make sure the beans have plenty of room to grow. Bean plants have shallow roots, so it is also important that the weeding is done carefully, according to University of Illinois Extension, so as not to injure the roots.
Climbing bean plants, such as 'Kentucky Blue' beans, need a support system in order to grow and produce pods. One common way to provide support is to set a pole in the ground by each plant, and connect the poles with string placed in a zigzag pattern. The vines will then crawl along the string. For this reason, these beans are often called "pole beans". Bush beans do not need support. All beans need exposure to full sunlight and rich, slightly moist soil.
The growth of beans may slow or even stop if their care needs are not met. Diseases and insect pests can also negatively affect the growth of bean plants. Bean mosaic diseases will cause the foliage to turn yellow and the plant to stop producing pods. Blight will cause brown spots to develop and is often caused by over-watering, or by letting water sit on the plants. It is best to plant bean cultivars that are resistant to these diseases, such as 'Blue Lake' (a pole bean variety) and 'Blue Lake 274' (a bush bean variety).