DIY Network

How to Grow Pole and Bush Beans

Beans are one of the easiest crops to grow, making them a favorite in vegetable gardens all across the country.

More in Outdoors

bush beans grow close to the ground
  • Time

    Several Months

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty



Step 1: Purchase the Seeds

Beans are almost always grown from seed sown directly in the ground. Beans come in two distinct forms: bush and pole. Bush beans are compact and grow close to the ground. Pole beans are climbing plants that require a trellis or other support. Bush beans tend to produce more beans in a shorter time, while pole beans will produce more over an entire season. Space is also a deciding factor, with pole beans requiring much less.

Step 2: Prepare the Seeds

To help speed up germination and increase bean production, add bean seeds to a jar and lightly spray with water. Next, shake in some bean inoculant powder over the seed. The powder will help the seeds to better absorb nitrogen and thus produce more beans. Put the top on the jar and shake until the seeds are evenly coated.

speed up the germination process with moisture

Step 3: Plant the Bean Seeds

Two weeks before planting, work compost or fertilizer into a garden spot that receives full sun. Well after the fear of frost has passed, use a garden hose to lightly moisten the soil. For bush beans, form 1"-deep furrows and place beans every few inches. For pole beans, position the trellis or bean teepee before planting the seeds. Push about five or six seeds 1"-deep into the ground around the base of the support. Cover all seeds with soil and water well. Use garden markers to indicate the bean locations and varieties.

label at end of each row to identify plants

Step 4: Cultivate the Bean Plants

Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate. When seedlings sprout, carefully thin them to one plant every 6" to 8". Apply a generous layer of mulch around the plants to conserve moisture and prevent weed growth. Bean plants need about 1" of water per week. They should be watered in the morning so the foliage has time to dry before dark. Fertilize bean plants with an organic fertilizer every two weeks for the first six weeks, then once every three to four weeks. Keep an eye out for bean beetles, which are easily picked off by hand and terminated.

Tip: Never work around bean plants when they are wet. Disease can quickly spread from plant to plant, destroying an entire crop.

pole beans are vining plants that need to climb

Step 5: Harvest the Beans

Bush beans are ready to harvest in 50 to 60 days, while pole beans take between 60 and 90 days. Beans should be harvested when the pods are 4" to 6" long. Beans that stay on the plant too long are much less tender and flavorful. Beans should be harvested frequently, even daily, to encourage continued production. Simply pull the pods from the vine to harvest, but try not to knock the blooms off the plant.

when bean plants die back beans are ready to pick