Green beans do well both indoors and outdoors. When potted, beans adapt well to containers. So you can enjoy their crisp snap and tender taste even if you don’t have a plot of land.
This is what makes them such a popular option for urban gardeners.
Types of Green Beans Suitable for Growing in Containers
There are two major types of green beans: pole beans and bush beans.
Both pole beans and bush beans grow well in containers. But they have subtle differences that can influence what variety works best for you.
1. Bush Beans
Bush beans, also known as dwarf beans, are short and sturdy. Instead of vining, this variety grows in a bush about two feet high and does not need trellising.
Bush beans are popular for their short harvesting period. And thus, they are a common choice for commercial farming.
Because of how easy they are to grow, bush beans are a practical choice for novice gardeners. Or even gardeners who don’t wish to use trellises or other supports with their potted plants.
The best-suited bush bean varieties for growing in containers are:
- Kentucky Bean
- Purple Teepee
- Top Crop
2. Pole Beans
Pole beans are the tall, vining beans. They are climbers with twisting vines that need support to grow vertically.
Although not specified, the “beanstalk” Jack climbed up was probably a bean growing up a pole.
Pole beans grow fast, shooting up trellises or any nearby support. This is what makes them ideal for home gardens. They take up more vertical space than lateral space, making them easier to grow in small spaces.
The vertical vining also makes them visually stunning and allows for easier harvesting.
The best-suited pole bean varieties for growing in containers are:
- Blue lake
- Kentucky Wonder
- Golden Gate
|QUICK REFERENCE GROWING GUIDE|
|Plant Type:||Annual vegetable||Water Needs:||Moderate|
|Native To:||Latin America||Maintenance:||Low|
|Hardiness (USDA Zone):||3-10||Soil Type:||Clay or silt loam|
|Exposure:||Full sun||Soil Drainage:||Well-draining|
|Time to Maturity:||50-70 days, depending on cultivar||Companion Planting:||Beets, borage, cabbage, carrots, catnip, cauliflower, chamomile, corn, cucumbers, dill, eggplant, kale, marigolds, nasturtiums, radishes, sage, savory|
|Spacing:||3 inches||Avoid Planting With:||Alliums|
|Planting Depth:||Seeds: 1 inch||Family:||Fabaceae|
|Pests & Diseases:||Aphids, armyworms, bean leaf beetles, corn earworms, cutworms, European corn borers, leafhoppers, cabbage loopers, Mexican bean beetles, seedcorn maggots, soybean looper, spider mites, stink bugs, thrips, vegetable leafminers; Alternaria leaf spot, anthracnose, bacterial blight, bean common mosaic virus, damping off, downy mildew, gray mold, halo blight, powdery mildew, root rot, rust, white mold|
What is the Best Way to Grow Green Beans?
If space is an issue in your garden, or you simply like to keep things organized, planting in containers is a great way to enjoy a tasty crop of green beans.
The following instructions will help you get started with your very own potted green bean patch.
Steps to Grow Green Beans in Containers:
1. Choose the Right Container for Growing Green Beans
To successfully grow green beans, you need to choose a container deep enough to grow the beans. The appropriate depth depends on the variety of bean you want to grow.
Pole beans require a depth of at least 8 to 9 inches while bush beans need at least 6 to 7 inches.
A good rule of thumb to follow when growing fresh vegetables is to go for bigger containers. Larger containers hold more soil, and in turn, retain moisture for longer.
Your containers should also have adequate draining holes. 2 to 3 holes per planter should suffice. But ensure the holes aren’t too big.
You can also cover the holes with a wire or plastic mesh to prevent the soil from leaking out the bottom. Alternatively, you can also line the bottom of the pot with about an inch of small stones.
Terracotta pots, wooden boxes, and barrels all make great planters for growing beans. Just ensure you go for the unglazed options where possible. Unglazed containers are far better at moisture regulation. They allow excess water to evaporate, preventing your plants from drowning.
2. Prepare your Potting Mix
When growing green beans in containers, potting soil is essential for healthy plants. Beans do well in fertile, moisture-retentive soil rich in organic content.
You can either buy a ready-made potting mix or make your own.
To make your own potting mix, combine equal parts of compost, garden loam, and clean, coarse builder’s sand. Add in some organic manure to the soil and mix thoroughly.
Pasteurized soil helps reduce the risk of weeds and pathogens to the potting mix.
The green bean plant prefers soil with pH levels between 6.0 and 7.0. That is, neutral to slightly acidic. You can use pH strips to test your potting mix to ensure it is within the recommended range.Remember to incorporate some organic manure or vegetable fertilizer into the mix before planting.
What are the Necessary Conditions for Green Beans?
Beans are relatively easy to grow. But you can increase your chances for a plentiful harvest by providing your young plants with favorable conditions. For instance:
In their native environment, beans grow in temperate or subtropical climates as annuals. They prefer warm weather with ambient temperatures between 65°F and 85°F.
The ideal soil temperature for bean germination is between 70°F and 80°F. If your growing medium is below 60°F when sowing, the seeds will likely rot before they get a chance to sprout.
In addition to warm temperatures, green beans need full sun to thrive. That is, at least six to eight hours in direct sunlight daily. Any less and production will take a hit.
How Long Does it Take to Grow Green Beans?
Typically, green beans require between 60-70 days, depending on the variety you grow.
Tip: Succession-plant your beans every two weeks through midsummer for a continuous supply of beans. But be sure to sow your final crop such that it will mature before your average first frost date.
How to Sow Green Beans in Containers
Plant your green bean seeds during warm weather in early spring. Green beans are highly susceptible to cold temperatures and frost. So be sure to plant your seeds once the threat of frost has passed.
Follow these steps when sowing your green beans:
- Fill your planter with your prepared potting mix to within 2 to 3 inches of the top. Water the soil until thoroughly moist
- Set up the trellises, stakes, and teepees in the plater if you are growing pole beans. However, bush beans don’t need support.
Set these up at or before planting time so you don’t disturb the delicate roots later on.
- Place individual bean seeds into the planter and cover with about 2 inches of soil.
- Space pole beans about 2 to 3 inches apart
- Space bush beans about 4 to 6 inches apart
- Place the planters in a sunny spot and water them regularly to ensure even moisture for the first 2 to 3 weeks. After the first few weeks, you can water the plants whenever the topsoil feels dry. The beans should sprout within 5 to 8 days.
Plant pole beans around the stakes. Use 7-foot-long bamboo poles or long straight branches for the stakes.
You can also tie three or four of these at the top and splay the bottoms to form a teepee.
You can then plant around the base of the stake or teepee and train the vines to wind up the poles for support.
Other than frost, beans are also susceptible to strong winds, especially when young.
Place your containers in areas where they will be safe from strong winds.
Additionally, once sprouted, you can spread a layer of mulch around the seedlings. This helps keep the soil moist and can also prevent weeds if you did not use pasteurized soil.
Are Green Beans Easy to Grow?
Once established, green beans are relatively low maintenance. However, there are a few things you can do to keep your plants healthy and boost yields. They are:
- Water them regularly: Beans need plenty of water, especially when they are flowering. Water when the soil feels dry at a depth of two or three inches and mulch to retain moisture.
If you don’t keep your beans well-hydrated, they will stop flowering, and reducing yields.
- Give them sun: As mentioned earlier, beans need full sun. At least six to eight hours a day is necessary for healthy growth and maximum yields.
In small spaces, there tends to be more sunlight higher up. Try and place your beans such that they grow into more sun as they grow.
- Feed your green beans: Fertilize your green beans once every month with a balanced liquid fertilizer at half strength. You can skip this if you used a slow-releasing fertilizer in your potting mix when planting.
A bit of compost manure is an excellent alternative to liquid fertilizer.
However, exercise moderating when feeding green bean plants. Too much, or nitrogen-rich fertilizer can cause too much foliage and decrease yields.
- Pinch out the tops: When your pole beans reach the top of the beans pole pinch off the tops of the vines. This encourages the plant to channel more energy into producing more pods.
- Pick the pods: You must regularly pick the bean pods to encourage your plants to grow more. Also, it doesn’t hurt that green beans are more tender and delicious when small
- Weed your beans: Weed your plants when necessary. But do it carefully so you don’t damage or disturb the beans’ shallow roots.
Harvesting Potted Green Beans
You can start picking the bean pods once they reach about 3 to 4 inches long. This usually takes about 45 to 65 days after planting. Depending on the variety and ambient conditions.
Bush bean varieties tend to mature all at once. They grow pods for several weeks, and after a while, they stop.
When the pods mature, you can pick them all at once. But you will have to search inside the leafy bushes to find the beans.
However, pole bean varieties give an extended yield. They produce throughout the growing season and are easy to harvest. Additionally, when you pick the pods regularly, you extend the growing season and your green bean’s productivity.
Harvest your green beans when the pods are about 3 inches long with firm pods. Don’t wait too long, or your beans will be tough.
Pests and Diseases Control in Green Beans
Green beans are one of the easiest potted vegetables to grow. But only if you can keep them healthy and pest free.
Some varieties of the plant, especially pole beans, are vulnerable to a number of plant diseases. It’s important to grow the varieties that are known to have the least pest problems in your area.
You can contact your local cooperative extension service for information on resistant cultivars.
Visit the U.S Department of Agriculture Website to find your closest extension service office.
The most common green bean pests and diseases are:
1. Aphids (Aphididae spp.)
These are tiny, sap-sucking insects that disfigure your plants and cause stunted growth. You are more likely to find aphids in cool, dry weather.
You can control the spread of aphids by:
- Spraying your plants with horticultural soap
- Spraying the leaves with strong streams of water
You can also pinch of infested tips and destroy them in milder cases.
2. Bean Leaf Beetle (Cerotoma trifurcata)
Bean leaf beetles are oval-shaped insects with red, yellow, and black markings. Adult beetles have a triangle at the top middle of their wing covers.
Bean leaf beetles feed on pods and the underside of leaves, causing tiny holes.
You can control these beetles by picking them off your plants and dropping them in soapy water.
3. Slugs and Snails
Slugs and snails feed on young seedlings. You can tell you have a slug problem from the telltale trail of slime around your plants and on the leaves.
Click here for more information on how to control slugs and snails.
4. Bean Rust
Bean rust is a fungal infection caused by the Uromyces appendiculatus fungi.
The fungus thrives in humid conditions where temperatures are between 60°F and 75°F.
Bean rust causes white or yellow spots on leaves. After some time, these spots turn into red-brown pustules with yellow halos.
If you notice infection, prune the afflicted sections and apply a fungicide. In case of severe infections, remove and destroy all infected plants.
You can prevent the spread of bean rust by:
- Ensuring proper air circulation
- Watering at ground level to avoid splashing
- Planting resistant varieties
5. Bean Common Mosaic Virus (BCMV)
Bean Common Mosaic Virus is predominantly seed-borne. But it can also spread through aphids.
The most effective way to prevent infection is to plant a resistant cultivar.
In case of infection, remove all infected plants, including the roots, and destroy them.
Symptoms of BCMV include:
- Mottled patterns on leaves
- Distorted leaves
- Yellow spotting
- Stunted plants
Want to Learn More About Planting Green Beans in Containers?
You can grow nutritious and delicious green beans with very little cost or trouble. Here are a few websites to inspire you:
2003: The Year of the Bean has a lot of great info on planting green beans in containers.
Ventor Permaculture has a great blog post about Runner Beans in Containers. The University of Arizona College of Agriculture has lots of great container gardening info in their post, Vegetable Garden: Container Garden.