Growing Pole Beans:
How to Grow Pole Beans Organically

Growing pole beans is easy even for beginner gardeners. They grow on vines which must be supported on a trellis, cage or pole, and produce beans continuously throughout their growing period.

There are many varieties of pole beans to choose from, and all are best started from seed. Pole beans need well-drained, moist soil and full sun to partial shade for the highest yields.

Growing Pole Beans: Plant Snapshot (Phaseolus vulgaris)

Growing Pole Beans
  • Family: Fabaceae (Pea family))
  • Annual or Perennial? Annual: Ready to harvest 65 to 80 days after planting.
  • Recommended varieties: Kentucky Wonder, Romano Italian, Kentucky Blue, Kentucky Wonder Wax
  • Cold tolerance: Warm Season – Will not survive frost and their seeds will not germinate in cold soil. Plant them at about the average date of the last 32 degree F (0 degree C) temperature in spring.
  • Required Sun: Full sun (at least 6 hours each day)
  • When planning vegetable crop rotation, group with crops from this family: Legumes: French beans, peas
  • Companion plants (see Companion Planting Charts for more info):
    • Companions: Carrots, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Lettuce, Marigold, Pea, Radish, Rosemary, Savory, Tansy
    • Avoid: Basil, Beets, Cabbage, Fennel, Kohlrabi, Onion, Sunflower
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Growing Pole Beans: Planting the Seed

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Pole beans like lighter soil. If your soil is mostly clay, you'll need to mix in sand or vermiculite to lighten it up.

Pole beans also need support that is about five to eight feet tall. While some gardeners use cages, trellises or poles, many build “teepees” from wood for the pole bean vines to grow on. These can be made from bamboo or other wood or purchased pre-made.

Planting instructions depend on the type of support you use (see snapshot box below). Cover seeds with one inch of soil and lightly compress.

Water pole beans thoroughly after planting and fertilize with an organic garden fertilizer.

Snapshot: Planting Pole Beans

  • Planting depth: about 1 inch (2.54 cm)
  • Spacing in rows: in hills for poles, about 15 inches (38 cm) apart (4 plants per hill); in rows for trellises, about 3 inches (8 cm) apart; for teepees, 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) outside of supports
  • Germination soil temperature: 70 to 80 degrees F (21.1 to 26.6 degrees C)
  • Days to germination: 7 to 14
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Growing Pole Beans: From Germination to Pre-Harvest

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Once the pole bean seeds have pushed their way up through the soil, thin the weakest ones and start training the beans to grow up their support.

Use mulch to help the soil retain moisture, and water pole beans at a rate of about one inch (2.54 cm) per week. Wet foliage can encourage disease, so water pole beans as closely to the soil as possible and early in the day to give foliage a chance to dry.

Snapshot: Growing Pole Beans

  • Preferred soil pH (see soil pH tester for more information): 6.0 to 6.8
  • Growing soil temperature: 70 to 80 degrees F (21.1 to 26.6 degrees C)
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Growing Pole Beans: Harvesting Time

Pole beans are ready to harvest about seven to fourteen days after the pods have flowered and become firm, fully elongated and crisp. You will need to continually monitor the readiness of these beans, as they produce much better if picked regularly (about every 2 to 3 days). Do not wait until the beans inside the pod have become enlarged, unless you intentially want them to mature into shell beans.

You should harvest when foliage is dry and clip beans carefully so as not to damage the branches of the plant.

Snapshot: Harvesting Pole Beans

  • Time to harvest: About 50 to 60 days after planting.
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Storing Pole Beans and Freezing Pole Beans

Pole beans should be used immediately or refrigerated soon after harvest. Place beans in a perforated bag and store in the warmest part of the refrigerator for up to one week.

To prepare for the freezer, blanch beans for 4 minutes, then drain, cool and package in freezer bags or plastic containers.

Pole bean seeds are viable for about three years.

Snapshot: Storing Pole Beans & Freezing Pole Beans

  • Storage temperature: 45 to 50 degrees F (7.2 to 10 degrees C)
  • Humidity: 80 to 90% relative humidity
  • Storage life (unfrozen in above conditions): about 1 week
  • Storage life (frozen): 10 months
  • Seed longevity: About 3 years
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Growing Pole Beans: Pests & Diseases

The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Pole Beans. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.

Pests

  • Aphids
  • Armyworms
  • Bean weevils
  • Corn earworm
  • Cucumber beetles
  • Cutworms
  • Darkling beetles
  • Earwigs
  • Grasshoppers
  • Leafhoppers
  • Leafminers
  • Loopers
  • Lycaenid pod borers
  • Lygus bugs
  • Nematodes
  • Saltmarsh caterpillar
  • Seedcorn maggot
  • Snails/slugs
  • Stink bugs
  • Thrips
  • Whiteflies
  • Wireworms

Diseases

  • Bean rust
  • Curly top
  • Damping off
  • Fusarium root rot
  • Mosaic viruses
  • Powdery mildew
  • White mold
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