How to Plant, Grow, and Care For Scarlet Runner Beans

Would you like to grow scarlet runner beans this season? These beans serve as both edible and ornamental in our gardens. In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago shares everything you need to know to plant, grow, and care for scarlet runner beans.

A close-up of Scarlet Runner beans plant reveals vibrant, elongated beans bursting with green color, promising a bountiful harvest. The flowers, a striking crimson hue, adorn the plant, attracting pollinators with their intricate design. The lush leaves, broad and verdant, provide ample shade and nourishment for the thriving plant against the backdrop of a clear blue sky.

Contents

Beans are known for their beautiful vines and ability to grow quickly. Scarlet runner beans are no different. These striking red-flowered purple beans are in the same genus as other beans, such as green beans and black beans.

If you want to beautify your garden while harvesting delicious beans, give scarlet runner beans a try. Let’s learn how to plant, grow, and care for these classic legumes

Overview

Hand delicately holds Scarlet Runner beans, showcasing their slender form and rich, green color. In the background, lush green leaves provide a verdant contrast, emphasizing the vitality of the plant. Each bean holds the promise of flavor and sustenance, awaiting the moment of harvest.
This plant prefers moist, well-drained soil.
Plant Type Fruit, Annual, Perennial
Family Fabaceae
Genus Phaseolus
Species coccineus
Native Area Central America
Exposure Full sun
Height 6-12 feet
Watering Requirements Average
Pests and Diseases Aphids, beetles, slugs, snails, powdery mildew, anthracnose, mosaic disease
Maintenance Average
Soil Type Moist and well-drained
Hardiness Zone 7-11

What Are They?

Scarlet runner beans are beautiful edible and ornamental legumes with tall vines, red flowers, and purple-speckled beans. It is not common for an edible plant to be matched in both its culinary use as well as its ornamental value, but the scarlet runner bean does both. This bean can be used as a privacy screen, a container plant, or even as a teepee trellis for children’s fun.

Characteristics

A close-up of the Scarlet Runner beans plant highlights the abundance of plump, nutritious beans ready for picking. The vibrant flowers, a beacon of crimson against the foliage, add a touch of elegance to the garden scene. Sturdy stems and branches weave a tapestry of strength, supporting the flourishing plant, while broad leaves provide shelter and nourishment, completing the picturesque tableau.
These beans sprawl up to 20 feet in length or height in your garden.

These perennial leguminous vines are typically grown as annuals. These vines are quick-growing and produce stunning scarlet-colored flowers that resemble sweet peas. The blossoms turn to large seed pods that house the beans. These pods can reach up to 10 inches long. 

This leguminous vine can grow up to 20 feet long or tall, depending on how you grow them. If you do not trellis these beans, they will creep and crawl through your garden. 

Native Area

A close-up reveals the Scarlet Runner beans plant, boasting vibrant hues of green amidst the garden's earthy tones. Its flowers, elegant in their deep red hue, contrast beautifully against the verdant foliage. The sturdy stems and branches intertwine, reaching towards the wooden trellis for support.
The popularity of runner beans stems from high calories and easy growth.

Runner beans are native to Mexico and Central America. These plants have been grown in these regions for thousands of years. They have gained popularity due to their high caloric properties and low-maintenance growth habit

Planting

Legumes grow well in containers or in the ground. Choose the option that is best for you and your growing conditions. 

Transplanting

With a small shovel in hand, a diligent gardener carefully plants Scarlet Runner beans seedlings into the rich brown soil, ensuring each one finds a secure home for growth. The green seed tray holds the promise of new life as the seedlings await their journey into the garden's fertile earth, surrounded by swaying grasses.
Transplant seedlings when three inches tall into a spacious container.

Whether you purchase nursery starts from your local garden center, or start seeds indoors, transplanting the mature seedlings is a simple yet tricky task. Please be aware that beans can be sensitive to root disturbance and prone to transplant shock. If possible, start your seeds in their final growing place to avoid the stress of transplanting.

Alternatively, start the seeds in soil blocks or biodegradable paper pots that can be planted straight in the ground. Once seedlings are at least three inches tall, you can transplant your beans into their final growing container. These plants require a lot of space or a trellis to grow upward, so you can opt for a large pot or a moderately-sized space in your veggie garden. 

Simply and gently, pop the seedlings out and plant them in the new container or bed. Avoid compressing the roots. If growing in a pot, ensure the new container has drainage holes. 

Growing from Seed

Tender stems emerge from the soil-filled pots, reaching upwards with determination as Scarlet Runner beans seedlings begin their journey towards maturity. Vibrant green leaves unfurl gracefully from the stems, ready to bask in the sunlight and contribute to the plant's flourishing growth.
Plant seeds along a trellis for easier training.

Growing scarlet runner beans from seed is a simple and satisfying task! Before you get started, gather your supplies. 

You will need:

  • Seeds
  • Pots or a raised bed
  • Seed starting mix
  • Trellis or other support
  • Twine or garden Velcro

Let’s get started! Plant your seeds indoors about four to six weeks before your last frost. If possible,

  1. Purchase your seeds!
  2. Decide what vessel you will use to start your seeds. A raised bed or large container is preferable, but you can start with smaller pots as well. Try planting in a Three Sisters garden for an amazing edible garden.
  3. Fill your container of choice with soil.
  4. Place your trellis in the container. You can use any trellis you have on hand. There are trellises specifically for beans on the market if you are looking to buy something new.
  5. Sow your seeds along the supports of the trellis. This will make it much easier to train the tendrils once the seedlings begin to grow.
  6. You should notice germination within one to two weeks.
  7. As they grow, use twine or garden velcro to help train the plants up the trellis. You will not regret this step later in the season.
YouTube video

How to Grow

Now that we know a bit more about these plants, let’s learn how to guide them through the growing season with grace. 

Light

A close-up reveals Scarlet Runner bean flowers, boasting vibrant red hue. Delicate and intricate, they attract pollinators with their sweet nectar. Surrounding them, the stems and branches stretch outwards, climbing the wooden trellis for support.
Plant vining legumes in full sun.

Bean plants require full sun. Full sun means a location with six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily. If your veggie garden doesn’t get that much sun, try planting your vines in a container with a trellis. 

Water

A close-up showcases the distinctively large, heart-shaped leaves of Scarlet Runner beans, with deep green hues. The stems and branches wind gracefully around the wooden trellis, reaching upwards for sunlight and support. The trellis provides a structured framework for the beans to climb and flourish.
Consistent soil moisture is crucial for growth.

The amount of water needed will depend on the soil and weather conditions. These beans require consistently moist soil but will fail in overly soggy soil. Check your soil regularly and water as needed. 

Soil

A close-up of a hand is shown holding dark, nutrient-rich soil, teeming with life and organic matter. The soil appears moist and fertile, ready to nurture plant growth. Its deep color suggests a high concentration of organic materials, promising healthy and abundant vegetation.
Ensure soil retains moisture without excessive water runoff.

When growing legumes, you do not need to worry so much about the soil type. What you should focus on is how much water the soil retains. These plants need moist soil that is well-draining.

Well-draining soil will retain some water, but when squeezed in your hand, no water should pour out. Compost-rich loam is ideal, but sandier soils also work.

Temperature and Humidity

A close-up reveals vibrant Scarlet Runner beans flowers, boasting red hues, inviting pollinators with their delicate petals and intricate structure. The sturdy stems and branches stretch upwards, intertwining with the wooden trellis for support, reaching for the sun's nourishing rays. Broad, lush leaves adorn the plant, providing a verdant backdrop for the striking blossoms.
High temps above 90°F (32°C) pose challenges to your plant.

Beans are not cold hardy, and will die off upon the first frost. Similarly, these plants may struggle in areas with temperatures regularly over 90°F (32°C). 

These beans are not too picky about humidity levels. If you live in an area with high humidity, you may struggle with fungal diseases such as powdery mildew. Consider increasing the spacing between plants to encourage airflow.

Fertilizing

In a hand-held bowl, a mix of vegetable and fruit debris forms compost, enriching the soil with nutrients for robust growth. The compost supply, carefully gathered and prepared, offers vital sustenance to the brown soil nestled within the wooden crate, fostering a fertile environment for flourishing plants.
Improve poor soil with compost for better drainage and nutrition.

Adding compost to your soil is a great way to give your beans the nutrition they need. As the season progresses you can add more compost around the base of your plant to help your beans perform well through the rest of the growing season. 

Take care not to over-fertilize. Beans have a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, so they will not need too much help from you. Adding compost is best if your soil quality is poor and you want to improve drainage as well as fertility. 

Maintenance

A close-up showcases the stunning scarlet flowers of the Scarlet Runner beans, each bloom a beacon for pollinators seeking nectar. The robust stems and branches of the plant intertwine and climb, utilizing nearby support structures to reach greater heights. Large, verdant leaves with a distinctive heart shape adorn the plant, capturing sunlight for efficient photosynthesis.
You can pinch the vines to promote bushier growth and better bean production.

These beans are very low maintenance! When the beans grow to the top of the trellis begin pinching the vines. Pinching means removing the top cluster of leaves. This will make the vines more bushy and help promote flower and bean production.  

Propagation

The best, and really only, way to propagate these leguminous annuals is by saving seeds to plant next season.

Seeds

A hand delicately opens Scarlet Runner bean pods. Within, nestled like precious jewels, lie plump, marbled seeds bursting with potential for growth and nourishment.
Preserve seeds for future planting by drying and storing properly.

Harvesting your own seeds and saving them to grow new plants is an old practice that is so satisfying. Let’s take a look at how to best accomplish this!

  1. Leave some seed pots on the plant rather than harvesting them to eat.
  2. Let the pods dry out until they become brittle.
  3. Carefully remove the seed pods from the plant.
  4. Bring a paper bag with you to collect pods. Hold the bag underneath the plant to catch any falling seeds.
  5. Break open each seed pod into a bag to release all of the seeds while also catching them in one space.
  6. Allow the seeds to completely dry. Keep your seeds in a dark and well-ventilated area.
  7. Once the seeds are dried, store them in an airtight container such as a mason jar until next season when you are ready to plant!

Harvesting and Storage

Wooden basket brims with Scarlet Runner beans, freshly harvested and bursting with verdant vitality. Surrounding them, lush green leaves provide a verdant backdrop, a testament to nature's abundance.
Store fresh beans in the fridge for two to three days in an airtight container.

Your beans are ready to harvest when they are about six to eight inches long and snap easily. They will resemble extra large, semi-flattened green beans. When you look inside the pod, the beans should still be small and light in color. Continue to harvest every few days, as needed. Every time you pluck a pod you will encourage more flowering and a higher yield!

Store your beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator, but use within two to three days. You may also dry your beans by laying them in a single layer until they have completely dried. Then, store the dried beans in an airtight container. 

Use scarlet runners as you would any other bean. Add them to salads, cook them with tomatoes, or add to salsa for tacos. Dry beans must be boiled before eating.

Common Problems

There are not usually many issues with these plants. Let’s take a look at what you should keep your eyes open for!

Pests

Let’s discuss some of the common pests you may find on scarlet runner beans.

Aphids

Green aphids swarm over the surface of a leaf, their tiny bodies blending seamlessly with its verdant hue. Pockmarked with tiny holes, the leaf bears the scars of their relentless feeding, yet it remains resilient, a testament to nature's intricate balance and resilience.
Use a hose to spray aphids off your plants.

Aphids are an issue with almost every garden plant! Sadly, these pests are not too picky about where they hang out and munch on pretty much every vegetable in your garden, including beans. These small pear-shaped insects will suck the life out of your plant. They reproduce quickly and in high numbers, making them extra problematic.

Try spraying aphids off of your plants with a strong stream of water from a hose before using chemical control. If the strong blast of water doesn’t work, employ the help of horticultural oil or insecticidal soap. 

Beetles

A vibrant Scarlet Runner beans plant displays delicate, crimson flowers with intricate patterns, attracting a glossy, brown beetle for pollination. Against a soft backdrop of blurred green leaves, the flowers stand out, a testament to nature's intricate design.
Try neem oil if manual removal doesn’t work.

Beetles of all shapes and sizes can munch on beans. Whatever beetles are common in your garden will be the most likely suspects. You will notice chunks missing from leaves. Leaving them looking lacy. The most common beetles that prey on beans are Mexican bean beetles.

Knock beetles off of your beans into a bucket of soapy water.  Try using neem oil if that does not seem to work for you. 

Leafhoppers

A lush green surface hosts a leafhopper, its translucent wings shimmering in the sunlight. With intricate patterns adorning its body, the leaf hopper blends seamlessly with its environment, a marvel of camouflage and adaptation in the natural world.
Use preventive measures like insecticidal soap and neem oil on plants.

Leafhoppers can do some major damage to your plants. Similar to aphids, they suck the life out of the leaves. What makes these insects worse is that they can move from plant to plant with ease, potentially spreading viruses, like mosaic virus, to your beans. 

These insects are tough to get rid of. It is best to treat your plants preventatively with insecticidal soap as well as neem oil. This can help get rid of leafhoppers while they are still in the egg or larval stages. These natural pesticides also kill the adult stage. 

However, avoid spraying during the hottest parts of the day, and while pollinators are active. Avoid spraying flowers as well. Use only a light misting, and spray close to dawn.

Slugs and Snails

On the wooden surface, a snug and a snail share a moment of tranquility. The snug, with its soft fur and gentle demeanor, sits comfortably beside the snail, whose shell glistens in the ambient light, showcasing its slow but determined journey through life.
Gardeners must monitor plant health to deter slimy pests effectively.

Slugs and snails are common in moist and humid areas— especially over-watered spots. These insects will create irregular holes in leaves.

The best thing you can do to prevent slugs and snails is to manage the growing condition of your plants. Do not over-water. Make sure there is proper airflow in between your plants, and ensure they get enough sun. If you end up with some slimy friends, head to a garden center and grab some slug control or diatomaceous earth powder. A beer trap will catch and kill both slugs and snails.

Diseases

Diseases are often symptoms of the plant’s growing environment, but on occasion, diseases are out of your control. Let’s take a peek at the most common diseases you may need to deal with.

Anthracnose

A close-up reveals a leaf marred by Anthracnose, evident as large brown spots. The affected area appears sunken and surrounded by healthy tissue. Anthracnose, a fungal disease, causes these lesions, compromising the leaf's photosynthetic ability and overall health.
Spray neem for anthracnose treatment.

Anthracnose is a fungal disease that can be identified by spots on the leaves of your scarlet runners. These spots could be yellow, brown, or black. The color of the spots will change as the spots age. 

Neem is a great treatment for anthracnose. It controls a wide array of other garden issues, and you can use it with peace of mind. Avoid spraying the flowers if possible.

Mosaic Virus

A close-up of the leaves of Scarlet Runner beans. However, the leaves display symptoms of Mosaic Virus, characterized by irregular yellowish-green patches. This viral infection disrupts normal leaf function, hindering growth and nutrient absorption.
Preventing virus spread in gardens is vital.

There are many types of the mosaic virus, but they all have similarities. You will notice splotchy leaves rather than being lush and green. Eventually, these sick leaves will fall from the plant. This virus can also affect the production of beans

Sadly, there is no cure for this virus. It is all about prevention. Control leaf hoppers. Buy healthy-looking plants, keep your tools clean, and get rid of any infected plants in your garden as soon as possible.

Powdery Mildew

A close-up of a green leaf showcasing powdery mildew, manifesting as a white, powdery growth on the surface. The fungal infection covers the leaf's upper surface, diminishing its ability to photosynthesize and weakening its structure.
Prevent powdery mildew with proper watering and airflow.

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that is most common in wet, warm seasons. This disease will not harm the plant long-term, but it is easily preventable. Do not over-water your plants and avoid watering from above. Use drip irrigation, soaker hoses, or an olla to water at the base. Provide ample airflow and spacing between plants.

If powdery mildew sneaks up on you, remove the damaged plant tissue. Monitor for further infection. Most of the time a case of powdery mildew won’t destroy a crop, but it will persist in an area for some time. Avoid planting susceptible plants in that same spot after the season is done.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you plant scarlet runner beans with?

You can plant scarlet runners with almost any vegetable companion. However, do not plant them near anything in the onion family, sunflowers, tomatoes, broccoli, or cabbage.

Are scarlet runner beans safe for pets?

Your pets can technically eat cooked beans. However, according to PLOS scarlet runner beans contain lectin that can cause GI distress when it is uncooked. Keep the plants away from your hungry pets!

Can you grow scarlet runner beans indoors?

Growing beans indoors can be tricky. These beans need a lot of sun to grow properly, and that can be difficult to achieve indoors. For the best results, grow your beans in a pot that you can easily move in and outdoors.

Final Thoughts

Scarlet runner beans are a triple win: Beautiful green vines, striking scarlet flowers, and delicious beans. If you have never grown beans before, give this classic variety a try. They are easy to grow and will beautify your space instantly!

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