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How to Grow Beans From Seeds

By Jay Golberg ; Updated September 21, 2017

Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) grow in average soil and can be picked at various stages of maturity. They can be picked as immature beans still in their shell called snap beans, as shell beans that are more mature and need have the shell removed before eating, and dry beans which are fully mature beans that can be stored for later use. Vining varieties that need a trellis or pole to climb are known as "pole beans" and produce beans all season. Varieties that grow as a bush are called "bush beans" and produce beans over a shorter time period. Beans are from the legume family which means they capture nitrogen from the air and "fix" it in their roots. This process is enhanced with the presence of Rhizobium bacteria in the soil with which the beans develop a symbiotic relationship.

How to Grow Beans From Seeds

Place seeds in container and mist with water so the Rhyzobium bacteria will stick to beans when applied. Don't soak the beans, just allow the mist to cover all bean surfaces. The beans need to dry shortly after the bacteria is added. Letting beans soak in water for any amount of time will cause beans to swell and sprout prematurely.

Immediately pour the amount of Rhyzobium bacteria recommended on package for amount of beans you are planting over the beans. Stir seeds or beans with spoon so they are completely covered with bacteria. It is black and easy to see. Let dry in a dark, dry place while you prepare the planting area. Don't allow coated seeds to sit in moisture or strong sunlight as this will kill the bacteria.

Prepare the planting area by removing weeds and working 1 inch of well-rotted compost into the top layer of soil. While working in compost, add moisture to the soil. The planting medium should be damp and not wet when ready because wet seeds will hydrate and open quickly before the tiny plant inside is ready. Slightly damp soil will allow the beans to swell slowly and sprout over several days. Bean plants prefer at least 6 hours of sun each day and well-drained loamy soil with a pH of 6 to 7.

Plant seeds 1 inch deep, measuring from the top of the bean, 2 to3 inches apart and thin to 3 to 4 inches apart after bean sprouts have two sets of true leaves. Rows should be 3 to 4 feet apart. Dampen soil after planting and keep barely damp until sprouts appear. Do not soak planting area until most beans are up and growing, or have one or two sets of true leaves.

Water deeply as needed after beans are up and growing, usually once a week. You should be picking fresh beans in 65 to 70 days.


Things You Will Need

  • Dried beans
  • Rhizobium bacteria
  • Source of water
  • Misting bottle
  • Container with drainage holes
  • Spoon


  • When planting bush beans, you can stagger the plantings every two weeks to keep a continuous supply of fresh beans.
  • High nitrogen fertilizers cause beans to grow foliage at the expense of bean production.
  • Buy Rhyzobium bacteria where you purchase bean seeds. Some seeds are pre-inoculated.
  • Rhyzobium bacteria is also called "innoculant."


  • Kidney beans and some lima beans are toxic in the snap or green stage and are toxic if uncooked in the mature or dry stage. Fully cook mature kidney and lima beans before consuming and don't eat green kidney or lima beans.

About the Author


Jay Golberg is a certified Texas nursery professional and professional project manager. He has 30 years of business and farming experience and holds bachelor's degrees in English writing from St. Edward's University and finance from Lamar University.