How to Grow Bush Beans

Phaseolus vulgaris

Bush beans are one of the best crops for the beginning gardener to grow. Starting them from seed is easy, they don’t require trellising, and they will give you an easy return on your investment.

A vertical close up of bush beans ready for harvest, pictured in bright sunshine. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white text.

And there’s really nothing like watching bean sprouts emerge from the soil.

While the smaller seeds of other garden plants may leave you guessing as to whether each tiny sprout is a weed or not, these seedlings leave no doubt – they are easy to recognize.

A close up of a tiny shoot of a Phaseolus vulgaris seed that has just germinated, covered with water droplets and dark soil in the background.

I’m going to cover everything you need to know about growing bush beans in your veggie garden.

Before we get started, here’s an overview of what’s to come in this guide:

What Are Bush Beans?

Both bush and pole bean cultivars are members of the same species, Phaseolus vulgaris, also called “common beans.”

A close up of the small white flowers on bush bean plants growing in the garden pictured in light sunshine.

What distinguishes these two types of plants is the way they grow – with a general tendency towards determinate or indeterminate growth, terms you may be familiar with from reading about tomato cultivars.

Determinate plants tend to grow into smaller, bushy shapes, and all of their fruits come to maturity at once.

On the other hand, indeterminate plants just keep growing, requiring trellising or cages, and keep producing until something stops them – usually cold weather.

Common beans, which are grown as annuals, have this distinction as well.

A close up vertical picture of a bush bean planted in a metal container with a house and garden scene in soft focus in the background.

Instead of vining and climbing like pole cultivars do, bush beans grow into a small bushy shape, usually two feet tall or less.

They are more practical for beginning gardeners who are just getting into the groove, or those who simply don’t want to incorporate trellising into their garden design.

Cultivation and History

Common beans are domesticated varieties of a species of wild plantP. vulgaris, that is native to a large area of Latin America ranging from northern Mexico all the way down to the Andes Mountains in northern Argentina.

A close up of a tiny purple Phaseolus vulgaris flower pictured in bright sunshine on a soft focus background.

In their native range, wild beans grow in temperate or subtropical climates as annuals or short-lived perennials, and they are vulnerable to frost damage.

Common cultivated beans (including both bush and pole varieties) are descendants of this wild plant.

A close up of young Phaseolus vulgaris plants growing in the garden, pictured in light sunshine with soil in soft focus in the background.

When you grow these vegetables in your garden, you are following in an ancient tradition. According to a growing guide published by Cornell University as a supplement to their garden-based learning program, they have been cultivated by humans for over 7,000 years.

How to Sow

Moving on to more practical knowledge, when you are ready to grow, it is best to sow bush and other types of beans directly into your soil – they do not do well when transplanted.

They can be grown successfully in containers with a minimum depth of 8 inches. The width or diameter of your pot will determine how many plants you can grow. See our article to learn more about growing beans in containers (coming soon!).

A close up of a variety of different colored Phaseolus vulgaris seeds set on a black background.

Also, they are warm season plants that should not be planted until after your last frost.

These seeds germinate best in soil temperatures of 70-80°F. If you have doubts about the temperature of your soil, you can check it with a soil thermometer.

A close up vertical picture of a hand from the top of the frame sowing seeds into a rich, dark soil in the garden.

When you’re ready to plant, sow seeds one inch deep and three inches apart. Rows should be spaced 18-24 inches apart.

If you are sowing in containers, space the seeds three inches apart and at least 2 inches from the side of the pot.

I like to use my finger to poke inch-deep holes in my soil, drop one seed into each hole, and then fill the holes with soil.

Pat the soil gently after covering your seeds. This technique – ensuring contact between the seed and the soil – helps to improve chances of germination.

Next, water your newly sown seeds gently, using the sprinkler setting on your watering wand or hose attachment.

A close up of a Phaseolus vulgaris seed that has just germinated, pictured in light sunshine on a soft focus background.

Generally, these seeds will germinate in 8-10 days. If the soil is below 60°F when you plant, germination will be delayed, and seedlings may take two weeks or more to sprout.

How to Grow

These veggies are fairly easy to grow, but your chances of bringing in an abundant harvest will be greatly improved if you provide your young plants with the conditions they prefer.


Bush beans grow best when the ambient air temperature is in the 65-85°F range.

A close up of a young Phaseolus vulgaris plant growing in rich, dark soil in the garden.

As mentioned above, soil temperatures should be between 70 and 80°F for germination. If your soil is below 60°F when you sow, the seeds can rot in the ground before they get a chance to sprout.

If you are experiencing cool spring weather, be patient. It’s better to wait and sow your seeds once temperatures warm up.

You can succession sow every two weeks for a continuous harvest through the summer months. Just make sure you sow your final crop at least 60-70 days before your average first frost date, depending on the days to maturity of the variety you have selected.

Make sure you sow your final crop at least 60-70 days before your average first frost date, depending on the days to maturity of the variety you have selected.


These plants require full sun – that means between six and eight hours a day of direct sunlight in most regions.

A close up of a Phaseolus vulgaris growing in the garden in the sunshine with a blue sky in the background.

Like most garden vegetables, bush beans can tolerate some shade, but they will be more productive and vigorous if grown in full sun.


Bush beans prefer clay or silt loam soil that is either neutral or slightly acidic, with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.

Conduct a soil test to learn more about your garden soil and determine its pH – or you can use pH strips to test your soil’s pH yourself.

Your soil should be well-draining and rich in organic matter, so work some compost down into the soil about six inches deep before you sow your seeds.

A close up of a Phaseolus vulgaris seed just starting to germinate and push through the dark rich soil.

Your garden soil should also be crumbly – not compacted – so your sprouting seeds can emerge easily from the ground.

To avoid compaction, practice low or no-till gardening, and always avoid walking or standing on your planting beds.


Legumes like bush beans harvest the nitrogen they need from the air. Adding too much fertilizer will promote leaf growth instead of pod production, so don’t use fertilizer that is nitrogen heavy.

I use well-rotted sheep manure, organic compost, and worm castings to provide my crop with extra organic matter, organic fertilizer, and soil microbes that aren’t found in synthetic fertilizers.

A close up top down picture of dark, moist soil with earthworms.

That’s right, you may not need to use synthetic fertilizer if you are mixing compost into your soil. In a publication on fertilizers by Jon Traunfeld, Extension Specialist, and fellow authors at the University of Maryland endorse the following mantra:

“Feed The Soil First! The surest way to improve plant growth is the regular incorporation of organic matter such as composted yard waste. Organic matter improves soil structure, slowly releases nutrients, and increases beneficial microbial activity.”

To make up for any deficits in your soil, refer to your soil test and amend accordingly.


Although this crop requires good drainage, it also needs consistent moisture.

After sowing, keep your raised beds or other planting area moist – but not waterlogged – until they germinate.

A close up of a young Phaseolus vulgaris plant in the garden, from the left of the frame is water droplets. In the background is soil in soft focus.

Experts at the University of Georgia Extension recommend irrigating twice a week after plants are established.

However, since these plants are prone to fungal disease, be sure to water them early in the day so that the foliage has time to dry before nightfall, and aim to direct water at the roots of plants rather than watering from overhead.

Growing Tips

  • Spread mulch 3-4 inches deep below plants to prevent weeds from growing.

A close up of a Phaseolus vulgaris plant growing in the garden surrounded by straw mulch.

  • Dense plantings help to prevent weeds from growing.
  • Don’t be in a hurry to plant your crop if temperatures are still a bit chilly.
  • Inoculate seed with rhizobium bacteria before sowing. Read our article on inoculating legumes to learn more. (Coming soon!)
  • Frequent harvesting will encourage continued pod production.

A close up of a cluster of bush beans ready for harvest with dark soil in soft focus in the background.

  • Traditional companion planting lore recommends avoiding growing legumes with alliums.
  • These veggies can be grown in containers.

Cultivars to Select

Bush beans come in a variety of colors – various shades of green, yellow, and purple, as well as mottled combinations of two of these hues.

A close up of a bush bean plant in a wooden barrel in bright sunshine on a soft focus background.

These cultivars also fall into the following categories:

  • Snap – Also known as green beans, these varieties are for fresh eating.
  • Shelling – Pods are tough, so only the seeds are eaten.
  • Dry – Pods are allowed to fully ripen and dry on the plant before harvest, and can be stored as a winter food source.
  • Dual purpose – Some cultivars can either be eaten young, as green pods, or allowed to mature and used for either shelling or drying.

A close up vertical picture of hands from the top of the frame shelling beans into a white bowl.

While there are many intriguing shelling and dry cultivars available, in this article, I’ll keep my recommendations to snap varieties intended for fresh eating.

Blue Lake 274

Well known and loved by commercial green bean producers, ‘Blue Lake 274’ was introduced in 1961, developed from a pole variety.

One of the reasons for the popularity of this cultivar is that it is determinate – all of its pods are ready to harvest at the same time. It’s also very high-yielding, another reason commercial producers and home gardeners love it!

A close up of green bush beans ready for harvest, pictured in light sunshine.

The green pods of this heirloom, open-pollinated cultivar are six inches long, plump, and stringless when picked young. They have a firm texture and rich flavor.

Since the pods are typically ready for harvest all at once, they are excellent for canning – but also great for cooking up delicious veggie-centric dishes in the kitchen.

Upright plants grow to 15-20 inches tall and have a 10-inch spread, making them well suited for growing in containers as well as in garden beds.

A close up of the 'Blue Lake' Phaseolus vulgaris cultivar set on a wooden surface and surrounded by foliage.

‘Blue Lake 274’

This cultivar is resistant to bean common mosaic virus (BCMV), and matures in 50-70 days.

You can find seeds for ‘Blue Lake 274’ at True Leaf Market, Eden Brothers, or Burpee.


‘Contender’ is a heavy producer that does well in areas with short summers, producing just as well in cool weather as in hot weather.

A close up of bush bean plants growing in the garden with rich, dark soil in the background.

This open-pollinated heirloom produces green pods that are 5-6 inches long, round to oval shaped, and stringless, with a strong, distinctive flavor.

Heat-resistant plants grow to 18-30 inches tall and wide, and like ‘Blue Lake 274’, they are resistant to mosaic virus.

A close up of the 'Contender' Phaseolus vulgaris cultivar, freshly harvested and set on a light surface with foliage in the background.


You’ll have a crop ready to harvest from in just 55 days.

You can find seeds for ‘Contender’ at Eden Brothers, True Leaf Market, or at Burpee.


An heirloom dating from 1965, ‘Provider’ is a stringless cultivar that is also tolerant of cooler weather and soil temperatures, and it can be planted earlier than most varieties.

This high-yielding, open-pollinated cultivar produces four to six-inch-long pods that are tender, round, straight, and fleshy.

A close up of a man holding a wooden chopping board with a fresh harvest of green bush beans and a knife in the foreground.

And when you take a bite of this rich and meaty bean, you’ll find a surprise inside: purple seeds.

Once harvested, ‘Provider’ stores well in the fridge.

Vigorous, compact plants reach 18 inches tall, have a 10-inch spread, and are well anchored by strong root systems.

A real champion of disease resistance, ‘Provider’ is resistant to not only mosaic virus, but also to powdery mildew and downy mildew.

A close up of the Phaseolus vulgaris cultivar 'Provider' set on a white surface surrounded by foliage.


You’ll be harvesting pods from this cultivar in just 50-60 days.

You can find seeds for ‘Provider’ at Eden Brothers, True Leaf Market, or Burpee.


‘Tavera’ is an open-pollinated filet bean that is described as “extra fine.”

The slender pods of this cultivar reach 4-5 inches in length, and are a medium dark green color.

A close up of freshly harvested green beans on a light colored surface.

Pods are tender, round, and stringless with white seeds.

Plants are medium-sized and resistant to both anthracnose and mosaic virus.


The tasty haricots verts of the ‘Tavera’ cultivar will be ready to harvest in 60 days.

You can find organic seeds from David’s Garden Seeds via Amazon.

Top Notch Golden Wax

‘Top Notch Golden Wax’ is a cultivar that was introduced in 1959 in Idaho by the Rogers Brothers Company of Idaho Falls.

This heirloom, open-pollinated variety is very productive, and its yellow pods make harvesting easy, since they stand out against the plant’s green leaves.

A close up top down picture of yellow Phaseolus vulgaris set on a wooden surface with foliage in the background.

The pods of this variety grow to be 5-6 inches long, straight, and they are stringless.

Making this cultivar even more interesting, the slightly flattened pods contain white seeds that have brown eyes.

A close up of the Phaseolus vulgaris cultivar 'Golden Wax,' set on a wooden surface.

‘Top Notch Golden Wax’

Plants are upright and compact, reaching 16-18 inches tall, and they come to maturity in 50-60 days.

You can find seeds for ‘Top Notch Golden Wax’ at Eden Brothers or True Leaf Market.

To discover even more varieties of bush beans, see my article on 35 of the best bush bean varieties. (Coming soon!)

Managing Pests and Disease

Bush beans are among the easiest garden veggies to grow – as long as you can protect your crop from disease and keep pests out.


Deer, rabbits, and voles might nibble on the buds of your beans. Other culprits who may not dine quite so daintily are raccoons, skunks, and groundhogs, aka woodchucks.

If woodchucks get into your bean patch, your plants may be trampled or look as though they’ve been mowed down.

Four Phaseolus vulgaris plants after the foliage has been eaten by herbivores, surrounded by straw on, fading to soft focus in the background.

The best solution for keeping these critters out of your garden is by installing fencing, at least 6 feet tall to keep the deer out, and sunk 6 inches under the soil to keep the rodents out.

You can learn more about keeping deer and rabbits out of your garden in our helpful guides, or learn how to build and install your own DIY deer fence.


Insect damage can make it feel as though all your gardening efforts have been in vain. And when bugs chew on your plants, they can double their damage as they spread disease throughout your garden.

Check your plants regularly for insects and signs of damage, such as holes chewed in leaves.

A close up of the leaves of the Phaseolus vulgaris plant after being attacked by pests.

But before you see a bug on your plant and assume it is up to no good, make sure you properly identify it first. You may just have a beneficial predatory insect there, who is doing an excellent job of keeping pests in check.

A close up of a predatory insect feasting on aphids on a branch with blue sky in the background.
Ladybug larva eating aphids

Planting herbs such as dill and cilantro nearby will help to keep pest populations low, and if they are allowed to flower, will attract predatory insects.


Aphids (Aphididae spp.) are one of the smaller insect pests that might target your crop. You’re more likely to find these pests when the weather is dry and cool.

There are hundreds of species of aphids that can affect agricultural crops. Insects may be green, yellow, pink, brown, white, or black.

A close up of the underside of a leaf infested by aphids, on a soft focus background.

When colonizing your crop, aphids will suck juices out of the leaves, stunting growth.

Aphid outbreaks can be controlled by washing plants with soapy water, or by spraying leaves off with strong jets of water from the hose.

A close up of two insects on a green branch on a soft focus background.
Green lacewing larva feeding on aphid

Ladybug and lacewing larvae will feed on aphids and help keep their populations in check.

Bean Leaf Beetle

If you find tiny holes in the leaves of your crop, the culprit might be the bean leaf beetle (Cerotoma trifurcate). These insects usually feed on the undersides of leaves, but are also known to chew on pods.

These oval-shaped insects can be yellow, orange, or red with black markings, and mature adults have a black triangle at the top middle of their wing covers.

A close up of a red and black spotted beetle on a green leaf on a soft focus background.

Bean leaf beetles are common in the Midwest, and prefer areas with poorly drained soils.

They can be controlled by hand picking them off your plants and dropping them into a jar of soapy water.

Mexican Bean Beetle

Do the leaves of your plants look skeletonized? It could be the work of the Mexican bean beetle.

A close up of a leaf covered in holes and a small orange and black beetle.

Mexican bean beetles (Epilachna varivestis) look very much like ladybugs, and are a related species, but instead of red, they are usually yellow or orange in color.

The larval form of this insect is yellow with spikes that eventually turn black.

A close up of yellow beetles infesting the underside of a leaf, pictured in bright sunshine on a soft focus background.

Since the color of the mature insects can vary, another way to differentiate the good from the bad is by noting that the Mexican bean beetle’s head is the same color as the rest of its body, while ladybugs have black heads with white patches, and they don’t feed on leaves.

A close up of a ladybug on a bright green leaf in the sunshine.

In certain climates, you can give your crop a jumpstart in defense against this pest by starting your crop early, since these beetles don’t emerge until early summer.

If you notice this pest on your plants, pick them off by hand and destroy them.


Tips for avoiding disease in your bean crop are similar for most diseases. Here are some tips for preventing disease – and how to handle it if it does occur:

  • Immediately pull any plants with puckered leaves or strange coloration. Remove the entire infected plant and dispose of it in the trash. Wash your hands and sanitize tools before handling other plants.

A close up of the foliage of Phaseolus vulgaris suffering from a disease making the leaves go brown.

  • Plant resistant varieties. Some cultivars have been bred for resistance to specific diseases, like mosaic virus.
  • Water close to the soil and avoid overhead sprinkler irrigation.

Here are a few diseases to be on the lookout for:


Anthracnose, caused by the  Colletotrichum spp. fungi, is more problematic to gardeners when conditions are cool and moist.

A close up of leaves infected with a fungal disease and turning brown around the edges.

Symptoms of infection include red, purple, or black leaf veins; reddish brown spots and streaks on stems, petioles, and leaves; and oval lesions on seed leaves, stems, pods, and seeds.

Since the fungi can overwinter in the soil, crop rotation is important. While there are some resistant cultivars, none are resistant to all strains of fungi that may cause this disease.

Remove and destroy all infected plants, do not place on the compost pile, and disinfect your pruners and gardening equipment to avoid spread.

Bean Common Mosaic Virus (BCMV)

Symptoms of this virus include mottled patterns on leaves in dark and light green, distorted leaves, yellow spotting, and stunted plants.

A close up top down picture of Phaseolus vulgaris suffering from mosaic virus that causes the foliage to be discolored.

This virus is predominantly seed-borne, so consider planting a resistant cultivar. It can also be spread by aphids. Remove and destroy all plant debris, including the roots, and burn it.

Cultivars that are resistant to this virus include:

  • Blue Lake 274
  • Contender
  • Golden Butterwax
  • Improved Tendergreen
  • Lancer
  • Provider
  • Royal Burgundy
  • Tavera
  • Tendercrop

Bean Rust

Bean rust is caused by another species of fungus that can affect your crop, Uromyces appendiculatus. It will cause leaves to drop if the disease is severe.

This fungus thrives in overcast, humid conditions, when temperatures are between 60 and 75°F and exposure to sunlight is limited.

A close up of the foliage of Phaseolus vulgaris infected by a disease causing the leaves to turn yellow and brown.

Symptoms include small yellow or white spots on leaves that later turn into rust-colored pustules with yellow halos around them. Spores from infected plants can overwinter in the soil, so crop rotation is essential.

Prune out the diseased sections and dispose of them, then apply a fungicide according to the package instructions.

It’s important to ensure adequate airflow between plants, and to water at the soil level to prevent splashing, which can spread the fungal spores.

In the case of a bad infection, remove and destroy all plants. Do not place infected plant debris on your compost pile.

If there is a higher probability of rust due to your local growing conditions, consider planting one of these resistant varieties:

  • Boone
  • Concesa
  • Crockett
  • Hickok
  • Jade
  • Lewis
  • Lynx
  • Roma II
  • Sea Biscuit
  • Valentino


Pods are usually ready to pick 45-65 days after planting, or 1-2 weeks after blossoms appear.

Rows of bush bean plants growing in the garden, surrounded by dry soil.

This crop is harvested for its green pods before they are fully mature – pick them before the seeds make the pods bulge.

The pods should be long, firm, and crisp.

A close up of two hands from the right of the frame harvesting green bush beans with foliage in the background in soft focus.

Make sure to wait to harvest your crop until morning dew or irrigation has dried, to avoid spreading disease.

Picking pods frequently will encourage continued production on indeterminate plants – the more often you pick, the more pods you get!

A hand from the frame is holding a basket full of freshly harvested Phaseolus vulgaris, with the plant in the background.

Ideally, you should use your harvest quickly – store it in the fridge in a perforated plastic bag and use within a week.

According to Daniel Brainard, Vegetable Extension Specialist at Michigan State University, and fellow authors, these veggies should not be stored under 41°F, because chilling injury can occur. Chilling injury causes general discoloration or pitting of the surface, and makes the crop more susceptible to pathogens that cause decay.


I generally don’t keep these veggies for long term storage – they all get cooked and eaten as soon as they are harvested. But if you do end up with a bumper crop, there are several ways to keep your beans to enjoy later.


If you’d like to freeze your crop, clean the pods, trim the ends, snap them in half, and then blanch them quickly in boiling water. Cool in ice water, drain, and freeze for up to three months.

A close up of bush beans some of which are cut up and others are whole.

You can learn more about freezing vegetables and fruits on our sister site, Foodal.


Dehydrating is another excellent method of long-term storage. Dehydrated pods make a nice snack – and they are a healthier alternative to potato chips.

A close up top down picture of various vegetables prepared in a dehydrator for long term storage.

You don’t even need any special equipment to dehydrate your harvest! You can use your oven.

If you do have a dehydrator, this will be a more efficient way to dehydrate larger batches than the oven.

Dehydrators vary from model to model, so make sure to follow the directions for your particular appliance.

A close up of a tray of bush beans about to be placed in a dehydrator.

After drying, they’ll last for up to a year when stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark pantry.

To learn more about dehydrating these and other vegetables, see the complete guide to dehydration on our sister site, Foodal.


For long term storage, canning your extra harvest is a great way to preserve the fruits of your labor so you can enjoy them year-round, even in the middle of winter.

A wooden chopping board with bush beans ready to be chopped and placed in the jars behind for canning.

To make sure you can your veggies safely, check out this guide to canning on Foodal.


My favorite way to prolong the life of my green beans is through fermentation.

Fermented veggies have an exceptionally long shelf life, as long as they are kept cool and uncontaminated by dirty utensils.

A close up top down picture of two jars with bush beans and a variety of herbs for fermentation set on a blue wooden surface.

One of my favorite ways to eat these veggies in summer is as fermented dilly beans. To make your own, follow this recipe for lacto-fermented dill pickles from Foodal, and switch out the cucumbers for bush beans.

Recipes and Cooking Ideas

Going beyond preservation, this veggie has so many uses in the kitchen.

A close up vertical picture of a rectangular white plate with green beans and soba noodles topped with pine nuts and caramelized onion. To the side of the plate is lemon sections.
Photo by Raquel Smith.

I love mixing them with ingredients that highlight their flavor – and this recipe for soba noodles with green beans and crispy shallots from our sister site Foodal does just that.

A close up vertical picture of a hand from the left of the frame holding a small glass carafe pouring dressing onto a tofu and bean salad in a black bowl set on a wooden surface. In the background is a small bowl of salad in soft focus.
Photo by Raquel Smith.

Or take your culinary adventure in a slightly different direction and try this recipe for charred green bean salad from Foodal, which also features tasty fried tofu.

A close up of a white plate with garlic roasted green beans on a soft focus background.
Photo by Raquel Smith.
And when all you want is a simple side dish, I recommend this recipe for spicy garlic green beans, also on Foodal.

Quick Reference Growing Guide

Beating Around the Bush

Alright gardener, if you’re ready for fresh bush beans, it’s time to get planting. And you’ll be ready to harvest your crop in just two quick months or less.

A close up of a bush bean plant growing in the garden, ready for harvest, pictured in sunshine.

Are you ready to grow your own? I would love to hear from the first-time bush bean planters out there, particularly new gardeners, young or old. Let us know in the comments if you’re going to go for it and plant your own!

And if you’re looking for more summer vegetables for your garden, read more right here:

Photos by Raquel Smith © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Burpee, David’s Garden Seeds, and Eden Brothers. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.

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