Legumes: Beans

Learn more about legumes — particularly beans — with our thorough plant guide that shows you when to sow and harvest, plus the best conditions for these plants.

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Runner Bean 'Butler'

This attractive, red-flowered runner bean grows vigorously and forms many long, stringless pods filled with pretty purple beans. They can be picked over a long season and, being stringless, are still palatable when a little larger.

Sow: Mid-spring to early summer
Harvest: Midsummer to mid-fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

Runner Bean 'Liberty'

A favorite with exhibitors, this runner bean has glorious scarlet flowers followed by extremely long (up to 18-inch) pods. The heavy crops of smooth-skinned pods are prized for their tasty, thick flesh.

Sow: Mid-spring to early summer
Harvest: Midsummer to mid-fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

Runner Bean 'White Lady'

The pure white flowers of this runner bean are thought to be less attractive to birds. Hot weather can prevent pods from setting on other varieties, but 'White Lady' still performs well, making it suitable for later sowings.

Sow: Mid-spring to early summer
Harvest: Midsummer to mid-fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

Runner Bean 'Wisley Magic'

A runner bean with bright red flowers that develop into slim pods up to 14 inches long, with a delicious fresh flavor. The plants grow rapidly and produce good yields, but pods are not stringless so are best harvested young.

Sow: Mid-spring to early summer
Harvest: Midsummer to mid-fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

French Bean 'Purple Queen'

Perfect for a container or border, this compact dwarf French bean grows without supports and develops heavy crops of glossy, rich purple pods. The stringless pods have a fine flavor and turn green when cooked.

Sow: Mid-spring to midsummer
Harvest: Early summer to late fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

French Bean 'Delinel'

A dwarf bean for a bumper crop. In containers or beds, it produces large yields of rounded, long green beans with a firm texture and good flavor. Plants are resistant to common bean mosaic virus and anthracnose.

Sow: Mid-spring to midsummer
Harvest: Early summer to late fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

French Bean 'The Prince'

This dwarf variety has long, flat, green pods, best harvested young when they are stringless. The flavor is excellent, and crops can be reliably harvested by early summer. They are also produced over a long period.

Sow: Mid-spring to midsummer
Harvest: Early summer to late fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

French Bean 'Ferrari'

A fine dwarf French bean — slim, succulent, bursting with flavor, and stringless. The plants do well sown in mid-spring if protected from frost and thrive in containers. The connoisseur's choice, as well as easy to grow.

Sow: Mid-spring to midsummer
Harvest: Early summer to late fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

French Bean 'Cobra'

Train up wigwams or trellis to achieve large crops of stringless, tender green beans, up to 8 inches long. The flowers are an unusual shade of violet, which make the plants ornamental as well as productive.

Sow: Mid-spring to midsummer
Harvest: Early summer to late fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

Borlotto 'Lingua di Fuoco'

Grown in the same way as a climbing French bean, this Italian borlotto bean has long, flattish, pale green pods marked with red. Eat whole when young or remove the purple-blotched seeds from mature pods and dry them.

Sow: Mid-spring to midsummer
Harvest: Early summer to late fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Broad Bean 'Aquadulce Claudia'

An old favorite, this hardy broad bean can overwinter outdoors. Plants grow to 3 feet and yield a good crop of tender white beans in "cotton gauze" lined pods. Black bean aphid is often a pest on shoots.

Sow: Mid- to late fall; mid- to late winter
Harvest: Late spring to early summer
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Broad Bean 'The Sutton'

Compact and bushy, this broad bean reaches only 18 inches, so is ideal for small gardens and for sowing under cloches in late winter and on windy sites. It produces abundant small pods packed with juicy white beans.

Sow: Midwinter to early spring
Harvest: Early to late summer
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun