How to Grow Green Beans in Pots or Containers
Thinking of growing green beans in pots or containers this season? These popular plants make execellent container vegetables, even in small spaces. In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss walks through each step of growing green beans in pots or containers.
Have you thought about growing your own fresh crop of green beans, but you’re worried about limited garden space? If mobility is an issue, or you simply don’t have the time to prepare a bed for growing vegetables, you can grow delicious green beans in containers!
Container gardening is affordable and practical, and it requires a lighter workload. Planting in pots also reduces the amount of space used in the garden. It also doesn’t require much land; an outdoor patio or balcony can be a bountiful veggie garden with the proper containers.
In addition to the practicality and space-saving benefits of container gardening, keeping plants in containers provides their roots with some additional protection. Containers can be moved to a new location if the plant appears to have unmet environmental needs. With all of these benefits, it’s a no-brainer! Let’s go over the steps to grow your crop of tasty green beans in a container.
Step 1: Choose a Variety
There are two basic types of green beans:
- Bush beans, which grow on a short, bushy plant,
- Pole beans are climbing vines that need a trellis of some sort to grow on.
There are many varieties of beans to choose from. Surprise – they aren’t all green!
For a classic, flavorful bean and a booming crop, ‘Kentucky Wonder’ is a tasty heirloom bean that dates back to the 1800s. The 7” beans this plant produces are stringless if harvested young, and they are disease-resistant.
Try’ Tavera Filet’ bush beans if you prefer the more refined look and flavor of French-style haricot verts. They require no staking or trellising and have a unique tenderness. These petite beans look lovely on the dinner table.
For a splash of color in the garden, ‘Trinofo Violettlo’ pole beans are a gorgeous Italian heirloom variety. This striking plant gets quite tall with lavender flowers and deep purple beans that turn green when you cook them.
Step 2: Choose a Container
Growing this legume in a container is simple and straightforward. Whether you choose pole or bush beans, fabric grow bags are an excellent option for these vegetables.
Both types of plants should be given about 5-6” inches of space from their neighbors. In a 5-gallon grow bag, you can expect to plant a dozen or so seeds.
Raised beds are also an excellent option. Although they are less portable, they are typically more spacious. Remember that pole varieties need something to climb.
Step 3: Find the Right Location
Giving your bean plants the right amount of sunlight is vital to a bountiful harvest. While bean plants can grow in partial shade, their yield will significantly reduce. However, even though they are a warm-weather crop, too much sun will scorch the foliage and leave you with beans that aren’t nearly as plump and tender.
The ideal light situation is 4-5 hours of direct sunlight in the morning. The morning sun has all the advantages of the afternoon sun, with less harsh and dehydrating heat. Bush beans are more suited to shade than pole beans, so if you are short on sunny spots, try your hand at bush varieties first.
Protection from the harsh afternoon sun will go a long way toward extending your growing season. If you notice an abundance of green growth but relatively few flowers, try moving them to a sunnier spot.
Step 4: Use the Right Soil
Striking the right balance with your potting medium is another area where green beans are straightforward. Beans like slightly acidic to neutral (6-7) soil. They are not picky about clay content but don’t appreciate sandy soil. Just be sure your soil drains freely if it contains a significant amount of clay.
Since we are talking about growing these beans in containers, the soil is a factor that can be easily controlled. Choose a standard, loamy potting mix. To make your plants extra happy, mix in some manure or well-rotted compost to boost the nutrients available to your plants.
Step 5: Planting
This warm-weather vegetable prefers soil temperatures at or above 55°F and air temperatures between 65°-85°F. They do best when directly seeded, so wait until the weather warms up in the spring and sow seeds directly in your container rather than starting indoors and transplanting.
Sow your green bean seeds in spring as soon as the soil has reached that 55°F mark. They also make a great fall crop. They can be planted again in August for a late fall harvest. Plant new seeds every two weeks throughout the summer for an ongoing harvest.
For pole varieties, set up trellises or supports before sowing your seeds to avoid damaging the fragile roots. Sow your pole beans about 1” deep surrounding your supports. As your young plants grow, you can train them to climb up the supports using wire or string.
Sow bush varieties 1” deep and 2” apart. If you are planting in rows, maintain about 18” between rows. After your seedlings emerge, thin bush beans to about 1 plant every 6”. Immediately after planting, water your seed into the soil.
Step 6: Watering
These plants need regular watering. Make sure that your soil does not dry out during the germination process. The plants typically germinate quickly, but only in moist soil. Continue to maintain moist soil until your seedlings are a week old.
During their first week after sprouting, you can reduce watering to about 2-3 times per week. They need about 2 inches of water weekly and do not thrive in dry soil.
The only thing to be concerned about is the growth of fungus. Thinning plants out after they sprout will help to maintain air circulation to the interior of your plants.
Well-drained soil is important in avoiding rot because soil that stays soggy is ideal for fungus growth. Ensure your container has drainage holes at the bottom or another way for water to escape! To avoid over-watering, allow the top ½” of soil to dry between waterings. If you poke a finger into the soil and more than ½” is dry, give your plants more water.
Step 7: Fertilizing
Like all legumes, bean plants are nitrogen fixers. They gather nitrogen from the air and convert it to the form needed for their growth, fixing it into nodules on their root systems. As a result, bean plants will rarely require fertilizing. They may need some additional potassium midway through the season.
To meet this need for potassium, you can spread high-quality compost on top of the soil. Without this mineral, a light dose of fertilizer will suffice. The best type of fertilizer for beans is low in nitrogen. A 5-10-10 formula should do the trick.
Step 8 : Pest Management
Once your plants have started, monitoring for pests that can ruin your harvest and decimate your new, tender plants is always a good idea. Some of the most damaging pests are bean leaf beetles, aphids, leafhoppers, whiteflies, and thrips.
Most of these pests are sap-sucking insects that hide out beneath the leaves of a plant and pierce the outer tissues with sharp sucking mouthparts. Others, like beetles, will defoliate the plant, leaving a lacy-looking mess behind.
This is not always disastrous for mature plants as long as you catch it and treat it early. However, for young plants, this can be fatal.
Most pests can be treated by misting insecticidal soap onto all stem or leaf surfaces. Do not use dish soap, as most dish detergents strip natural oils from the surface of the leaves and can leave them open to fungal infections.
A persistent infestation may require neem oil or pyrethrin, an organic pesticide made from the pyrethrin daisy. Treatment should be done in the evening when pollinators are less likely to be on the plant.
Avoid direct spraying on the flowers when possible (although thrips can infest flowers and make them require direct spraying). Once the treatment has dried, most of these methods are harmless to pollinators but may pose risks when wet.
Step 9: Harvesting
Harvesting green beans is an ongoing process. It is best to pick them when they are still young and tender, as they will become fibrous as they mature. As soon as they look plump and firm, gently snap them off, or cut them from the vine. The beans should be firm but without bulges.
Harvesting beans is kind of like deadheading flowering plants. The more often you harvest, the more beans your plants will produce. It takes about 50 days for most varieties to mature enough to pick them, with new beans following regularly. You can expect to harvest from midsummer until early autumn.
It truly is convenient and simple to grow green beans in containers. With just a few feet of outdoor space and a few months of tending, you can wow everyone with beautiful home-grown vegetables.
Once you try growing green beans in containers, you might want to plant a variety of veggies in containers. It’s such an easy, portable, and manageable way to grow!