Common Bean

Phaseolus vulgaris, also known as the common bean and French bean, is a herbaceous annual plant grown worldwide for its edible dry seeds or unripe fruit. The wild P. vulgaris is native to the Americas. It was originally believed that it had been domesticated separately in Mesoamerica and in the southern Andes region, giving the domesticated bean two gene pools.

The main categories of common beans, on the basis of use, are dry beans, snap beans and shell beans. The common bean can be bushy, vine-like or climbing depending on the variety being grown. The leaves grow alternately on the stems, are green or purple in color and are divided into 3 oval leaflets with smooth edges.

Table of Contents


2 - 15 feet

Width-Circumference (Avg)

2 - 3 feet

Approximate pH

between 6.0 and 6.75

Types of Common Beans

The common bean is a highly variable species that has a long history of cultivation. All wild members of the species have a climbing habit, but many cultivars are classified either as bush beans or dwarf beans, or as pole beans or climbing beans, depending on their style of growth.

There are several types of common beans, including:

  • 'Kentucky Wonder': This old pole variety of string bean is prized for its flavor.

  • 'Bountiful': This is an early producing, stringless heirloom bush bean.

  • 'Golden Wax Bean': This is a soft-textured, yellow bush bean.

  • 'Royal Burgundy': An early producing bush bean, it has purple pods that turn green when cooked.

  • 'Romano': This classic broad, Italian-style, bush or pole bean has a meaty flavor.

  • 'Blue Lake 274': Blue Lake 274 was developed from the very old 'Blue Lake' pole bean in 1961. It may not bear a fancy name, but its tender 5-to-6-inch pods are reliable and bountiful.

  • 'Burpee's Stringless': This plant is drought-tolerant, heat-resistant, and renowned for being prolific. Germination to harvest of its 5-inch pods takes about 46–50 days.

  • 'Contender': Contender also known as 'Buff Valentine,' is a high-yielding, disease-resistant producer of tasty pods.

Planting Common Beans

When to Plant

The most important rule of growing common beans is not to plant too early. Plant in the spring after all danger of frost has passed. Seeds sown too early can rot in cold, damp soil, and the plants need warm weather to thrive.

Selecting a Planting Site

Choose a planting site that gets lots of sun and has organically rich soil with sharp drainage. Make sure there are no tall shrubs or trees nearby that will create too much shade for the beans. Beans also can be grown in raised beds and containers.

Spacing, Depth, and Support

In general, plant seeds about an inch deep, and position nursery plants at the same depth they were in their previous container.

  • Bush beans can be planted in rows 2.5 to 3 feet apart, with seeds placed 1 to 2 inches apart. After the plants germinate, thin the seedlings to 3 to 4 inches apart.

  • Pole beans need some type of support on which to grow. The support should be 6 to 8 feet tall. Be sure the support is in place before you seed. Space supports roughly 3 to 4 feet apart.

Growing Common Beans

How to Grow Common Beans in Pots

Growing beans in a container can be helpful, especially when it comes time to regularly harvest your crop. As long as the container gets enough sunlight, you can place it in a spot that’s convenient for you to visit regularly.

Choose one of the smaller bean varieties if you wish to grow them in containers, and be sure to give pole beans a support structure on which to grow. Aim for a container that is at least a foot deep with ample drainage holes. An unglazed clay container is ideal because it will allow excess soil moisture to evaporate through its walls. Wood barrels also can make good planters.

How to Grow Common Beans From Seed

Bean seeds are generally direct sown in the garden, as they dislike being transplanted. Their roots are shallow and easily damaged. If you want to start beans inside, plant them in biodegradable pots that can be planted into the garden once the weather has warmed.

Common Bean Care


Beans need full sun for the best yield. Full sun also helps to keep the plants dry and less likely to be affected by certain issues, such as fungal diseases.


Beans like organically rich loamy soil with a slightly acidic pH. Good soil drainage also is key. Remove weeds prior to planting to prevent competition for soil nutrients and moisture. As the beans grow, weed carefully around the plants, as their shallow roots can be easily damaged.


Common beans need 1 inch of water per week. Use a drip irrigation system for supplemental watering to avoid splashing soil onto the leaves, which can lead to soil-borne diseases. To determine whether the plants need water, stick your finger about 1 inch into the soil near the base of the plant. If the soil is dry, it's time to water. Plants that are under watered will stop flowering. Beans have shallow roots, and mulching can help to keep them cool and preserve moisture in the soil.

Temperature and Humidity

Common beans germinate best when the soil temperature is between 70 and 80 degrees. If the soil temperature is below 60 degrees, seeds will germinate more slowly and are susceptible to rot. The plants grow best when the air temperature is between 65 and 85 degrees. Beans tend to stop flowering in the extreme heat of summer. But keep them well-watered, and they will resume flowering and production when temperatures cool. Moreover, common beans grow in all humidity conditions if properly watered.


As legumes, beans fix nitrogen in the soil, so avoid a high-nitrogen fertilizer. Instead, use a 10-20-10 fertilizer to feed the plants throughout the growing season, following the product directions. Pole beans produce over such a long period that they also will benefit from a side dressing of compost about halfway through their growing season.


Bean plants are self-pollinators.

Harvesting Common Beans

Harvesting beans is an ongoing task, and the more you pick, the more beans the plants will set. You can start to harvest anytime after the beans form. Gardeners usually harvest the beans when they are young and tender, about the size of a small pencil. Overly mature beans can be tough and stringy.

In general, bush beans are ready to pick in 50 to 55 days after planting. Pole beans will take 55 to 65 days, depending on the variety. Check the packet to be sure your choice will have time to mature in your growing season. Harvest by gently pulling each bean from the vine or by snapping them off at the vine end. Be careful not to damage the plant when harvesting. You can cook the beans right away or blanch and freeze them. They can keep in the freezer for up to a year.

Propagating Common Beans

Bean plants are propagated via seed. Because the plants are annuals, this is an inexpensive way to ensure you have new plants each year. Here’s how to save the seeds:

  1. Harvest seed pods from a healthy bean plant once the pods have dried and become brittle.

  2. Break open the pods to release the seeds.

  3. Store the seeds in a dark, dry, cool spot within an airtight container. They should be viable for three to four years and can be planted in the spring after the threat of frost has passed.

Potting and Repotting Common Beans

A quality potting mix that’s labeled for vegetables is usually ideal for growing beans. As long as you plant in a large enough container, you won’t have to repot these annuals during the growing season and disturb their roots.

Pests and Plant Diseases

Several animal pests love bean plants, including:

  • Mexican bean beetles will eat the flowers, the beans, and especially the leaves.

  • Spider mites pierce the leaf surface and suck the sap, often causing leaves to die.

  • Japanese beetles and aphids may also attack bean plants.

  • Bean leaf beetles can girdle the stems near the soil line and chew holes in the plant's leaves.

  • Deer and groundhogs will eat entire bean plants, and fencing is necessary to stop them if they are prevalent in your area.

Furthermore, fungal diseases, such as Alternaria leaf spot, can be a problem in damp conditions. Other diseases, including white mold, bean rust, and mosaic virus, can also affect bean plants. Help prevent diseases by keeping the vines dry. Also, don't overcrowd the plants, and provide plenty of good air circulation.

Benefits of Bean

Improve Heart Health

Green beans are full of fiber, which is an important nutrient for many reasons. Soluble fiber, in particular, may help to improve the health of your heart by lowering your LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels.

Protect Gut Health

The fiber in green beans helps to keep your digestive system healthy and running smoothly. If you have a digestive disorder like irritable bowel syndrome, however, certain types of fiber can do more harm than good, leaving you with gas, bloating, and intestinal discomfort.

Those with irritable bowel syndrome (and other intestinal issues) often do better by avoiding high FODMAP foods. FODMAPs are carbohydrates that may not be digested or absorbed well. Green beans are a low FODMAP food, which can help to improve symptoms of digestive disorders.

Aid in a Healthy Pregnancy

A single cup of green beans has approximately one-third of your daily recommended intake of folate, a B vitamin that’s necessary for the growth and development of unborn babies. The vitamin helps to reduce the risk of certain birth defects.

Protect Bone Health

Green beans are high in vitamin K, and they also contain a decent amount of calcium. These nutrients are important for maintaining strong, healthy bones and reducing your risk of fractures.

Reduce Depression Symptoms

Getting enough folate isn’t just important during pregnancy. The B vitamin is also important for reducing depression. Getting enough folate helps to reduce the amount of homocysteine in your body. Too much homocysteine can interfere with your natural production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, hormones that regulate your mood as well as your sleep and appetite.

May Help with Anemia

Iron is an essential part of the red blood cells that transports oxygen from the lungs to all of the other cells throughout your body. Insufficient iron intake can lead to anemia, which is characterized by fatigue, weakness, and lightheadedness. Green beans provide a decent source of plant-based iron that can help to ensure that you get the amount you need to avoid anemia.

May Help Prevent Cancer

Green beans contain chlorophyll, which may help to slow the growth of cancer tumors and reduce the risk of cancer. Many of the current studies, however, use animals. More research is needed to confirm the anti-cancer benefits of chlorophyll.

Good for eyesight

Rich in carotenoids, green beans could play an effective role in preventing macular degeneration (a condition that causes decrease in vision and eye function). They are also rich in lutein and Zeaxanthin which help maintain good eyesight and night vision.


  • The common bean is used as a pulse and green vegetable eaten fresh or cooked.

  • The beans can be dried, cooked in sauce and canned.

  • The leaves are also occasionally used as a vegetable and the straw as fodder.

  • Bean leaves have been used to trap bedbugs in houses.

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