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Stages of a Bean Plant

By Karen Curley ; Updated September 21, 2017
All varieties of beans follow the same growth stages.
patchy bean image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com

All types of bean plants undergo four stages of development as they mature, beginning with two stages of leaf development, blooming, and the filling of the bean pod. Varieties of beans include green snap beans, lima beans, chickpeas, horticultural beans, wax beans, dry beans, fava beans, garbanzo beans, soybeans and yardlong beans.


Cotyledon appears beneath the unifoliate leaf.
mung bean sprouts image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com

The bean seed is planted in the soil and watered. The seed swells and bursts open, beginning the first stage of bean growth. This stage is known as the unifoliate stage. The unifoliate leaf is a single leaf that emerges from the bean seed planted in the soil. The cotyledon also emerges from the bean seed and provides nourishment to the new leaf. The cotyledon looks similar to the seed itself. This stage of growth occurs approximately 10 days after planting the bean seed.


Trifoliate leaves begin to develop.
Runner Bean Plants image by chrisharvey from Fotolia.com

The next stage of bean development is the addition of leaves to the stem of the plant. The leaf structure changes from one leaf to three nodes on the stem. The nodes unfold, forming three leaves on the stem of the bean plant. The trifoliate leaves no longer rely on the cotyledon for food but get nourishment from the sun’s energy through the process of photosynthesis. The bean plant grows new trifoliate leaves every three days, eventually forming bushes or vines after 50 days.


Blossoms appear on the bean plants after the fomation of trifoliate leaves.
runner bean plant 6 image by chrisharvey from Fotolia.com

After the development of the trifoliate leaves, blossoms appear at each leaf node but are enclosed by the leaves. Once the buds are formed, they emerge from the leaves within one day but remain closed for up to four days. Within six days from the formation of buds, blossoming occurs. The blossoms are visible outside the leaves and continue blooming for nine or ten days. The blossoms become the bean pods.


Mature bean pods with seed inside.
green beans image by Marek Kosmal from Fotolia.com

It takes up to 10 days for all the blossoms to form full length bean pods. After the pod reaches its full length, the seeds inside the pods begin to ripen and grow. The seeds bulge in the pods as they mature and are ready to harvest at this point.

Allowing the bean pods to turn brown and the seeds to dry inside the pod produces dry beans that can be stored throughout the winter. Dried beans are also used to replant bean plants in the spring.


About the Author


Karen Curley has more than 18 years experience in health and nutrition, specializing in healthy food choices for families. She received USDA certification in food components, nutrient sources, food groups and infant/child nutrition, and holds a B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts. Curley is also an avid gardener, home renovator, Collie breeder, dog groomer and dog trainer.