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.

green beans in 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

Close-up of a growing Trinofo Violettlo pole bean plant in a garden. The plant has heart-shaped medium leaves of dark green color with a purple tint. The plant has a ripe bean pod, elongated, with a purple skin.
This crop has two types: bush beans that grow on short plants and pole beans that climb.

There are two basic types of green beans:

  1. Bush beans, which grow on a short, bushy plant,
  2. 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, ‘Trionfo Violetto’ 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.

YouTube video
Beans are a popular crop to garden vertically.

Step 2: Choose a Container

Close-up of growing bean plants in large fabric growing bags, in the garden. The plant has upright stems covered with large, oval green leaves with tapered tips. On the surface of the leaves there are white tunnels damaged by pests.
Growing in containers is easy with fabric grow bags, allowing for 5-6″ between plants.

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.

A tomato cage or other trellis makes a perfect growing structure. A raised bed trellis could include a tipi-style support with a fun look, making harvesting a cinch.

Step 3: Find the Right Location

Close-up of young bean seedlings in terracotta pots, in black rectangular trays, outdoors, in full sun. Seedlings have large, wide, heart-shaped leaves, bright green in color with noticeable veins.
Bean plants require adequate sunlight for a fruitful harvest, as partial shade reduces their yield.

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

Close-up of small pots with freshly planted bean seeds on a light brown table. There are also a garden shovel filled with fresh potting mix, a handful of bean seeds and a garden rake on the table. Plastic pots, white and gray. Bean seeds are small, oval, hard, glossy white.
These legumes prefer potting soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH.

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

Close-up of planting bean seeds in a small terracotta pot, on a wooden table, outdoors. Women's hands hold a handful of bean seeds and place one of them in a pot filled with potting soil. Bean seeds are oval-shaped, firm, glossy, white.
Sow seeds directly in containers when the weather warms up in spring.

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

Close-up of a potted bean plant with water drops. The plant has oval bright green leaves with pointed tips and smooth edges. The leaves are covered with water drops.
This crop requires regular watering, especially during germination, to prevent soil dryness.

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

Top view, close-up of growing bean plants in two containers: one of them is fabric, rounded, the second is rectangular, plastic, black. The bean plant is formed by lush undersized bushes, with large triangular leaves of bright green color with smooth edges. Plants produce long, thin pods that are pale green in color.
Bean plants act as nitrogen fixers, converting atmospheric nitrogen into a usable form for their growth.

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

Close-up of a green bean pod infested with aphids, against a blurred background of a green garden. The bean pod is elongated, thin, pale green in color. The pod is covered with tiny aphids. Aphids are small soft-bodied insects, pear-shaped, black in color
Watch out for damaging pests like bean leaf beetles, aphids, leafhoppers, whiteflies, and thrips.

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

Close-up of a male hand picking ripe bean pods among green foliage. The bean plant has broad, green, heart-shaped leaves with smooth edges. Bean pods are long, thin, dark purple in color, with a glossy skin.
Regularly harvest plump, firm beans without bulges to encourage more production.

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.

Final Thoughts

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!

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