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Planting, growing and harvesting runner beans

30.05.2021  /  Reading time: 7 minutes

Runner beans are a popular crop in the vegetable patch. In this article, you will find out what you need to consider when growing, caring for and harvesting runner beans. We have prepared good and bad neighbors as well as mixed crop planting plans. You will also find instructions for a bean tipi and what you can use as an alternative climbing aid.

This article contains:

  1. Growing runner beans
  2. Runner bean varieties
  3. Sowing runner beans
  4. Support ideas for runner beans: climbing frame
  5. Building a bean teepee: A guide
  6. Runner beans in mixed cultivation
  7. Your planting plan with runner beans
  8. Harvesting runner beans
  9. PDF: instructions for a bean tepee
  10. Frequently asked questions about runner beans

Quick Overview

Runner beans: tips on cultivation and sowing

  • Location: sunny to semi-shady
  • Sowing: from mid-March outdoors, no pre-breeding necessary
  • Planting distance: 30 - 40 cm or in clumps with a spacing of 10 to 15 cm
  • Attach climbing support for stability. You can also build a bean tepee here.
  • Harvest: maturity period is 75 to 100 days and you can harvest continuously over the summer

Support: creating step by step

  • Select location
  • Position the poles and tie them together
  • Sow beans in clusters around the poles

Growing runner beans

Like all beans, runner beans belong to the legume family(Fabaceae). With over 15,000 different species, legumes are one of the most species-rich plant families of all. In general, a distinction is made between field beans (Vicia fabia) and garden beans (Phaseolus vulgaris). The garden beans include numerous species such as fire beans and kidney beans. Depending on their growth habit, these beans are classified as runner or bush beans. Runner beans grow upwards and can reach a height of up to 3 meters. As legumes, they can fix atmospheric nitrogen in the soil, which is why legumes are a popular green manure plant in agriculture.

Runner bean varieties

There is a wide range of varieties of runner beans. You will find varieties with green, yellow, pied and red/purple pods.

Different types of runner beans
There is a huge variety of beans. (Photo by Eniko Torneby on Unsplash)

  • Green runner beans: Cobra, Forellenbohne, Helda, Kipflerbohne Justin, Queen of the Neckar, Mechelse Tros, Siena, Styrian scarlet, Trebona, Weinländerin
  • Yellow-hulled runner bean: Goldfield, Golden Gate, Kärntner Butter, Neckargold, Posthörnchen
  • Blue-hulled runner beans: Blauhilde, Cornetti Viola Trionfo
  • Old runner bean varieties: Cornetti Viola Trionfo, Kärntner Butter, Marmorierter Mond, Posthörnchen, Styrian scarlet, Weinländerin

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Discover numerous varieties in our lexicon

In our lexicon you will find information on the individual varieties with cultivation periods, tips on planting and harvesting. You will also find good and bad neighbours to help you plan a mixed crop.

Discover the lexicon now

Sowing runner beans

Sowing is only carried out from mid-May to the end of June, otherwise the seeds will rot in the cold soil. Place the seeds around the climbing support (4 to 6 seeds around each pole). Place them 3 cm deep in the soil, press them down well and keep them moist until germination.

Support ideas for runner beans: climbing frame

Corn as a climbing aid for runner beans
Corn is a great climbing aid for runner beans if you plant it first and give it a head start.

They are somewhat more demanding to care for than their bushy relatives: they need more warmth, water, nutrients and, above all, more space! Runner beans like plenty of moisture. To prevent the spread of fungal diseases, you should neither touch nor harvest the beans in wet weather. The rows of beans can be placed as wind protection for sensitive crops (e.g. cucumbers).

Wooden poles 2 m high are used as climbing supports. These are either dug in vertically or leaned against each other in rows and stabilized with a crossbar. It is important to pay attention to the direction of the compass so that the beans do not shade themselves too much. Alternatively, the poles can also be used to build a"bean tipi" (= tent). In a milpa, which is a mixed culture with beans, pumpkin and corn, the corn serves as a strong climbing aid for the beans. You can find out how to set up a milpa and what a milpa is here.

Building a bean teepee: A guide


  • 3 to 8 long wooden sticks or bamboo tubes approx. 2 to 3 m long
  • Strong string or wire
  • Runner bean seeds

Step by step instructions:

Instructions for a bean teepee
  • Choose a location: Choose a sunny location where the tipi has enough space. Pay attention to which crops you shade with the tipi during the course of the day.
  • Position the poles: Insert the poles in a circle about 15 to 20 cm deep into the ground for a good hold. The ends of the poles must meet in the middle.
  • Tie the poles together: Now tie the poles together at the top with string or wire. In addition, you can now stretch more wire from top to bottom between the poles to give the beans more space to climb.
  • Sowing beans: Place between 3 and 6 bean seeds around the base of the poles, depending on the size of the tipi. There should be a distance of 10 to 15 cm between the seeds.

Runner beans in mixed cultivation

Bean tipi in summer
In summer, when the beans have grown, the bean tipi stands out beautifully green and wild from the bed.

As legumes, beans are a very good partner in a mixed crop. Their deep roots can bind atmospheric nitrogen through a symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria and make it available to plants. This means that beans do not require additional fertilization and also benefit other plants in the bed. You can find out more about beans in mixed cultivation with good and bad neighbors and planting plans in this article.

Your planting plan with runner beans

It's best to plant your beans in a colourful mixed crop. We have already created planting plans for you to get inspiration for your garden. You can also copy the plan directly and start gardening!

Table: good neighbours, bad neighbours

Good neighbours Bad neighbors
Asparagus Oregano Bean
Beetroot Pak Choi Chickpea
Salsify Physalis Chives
Borage Potato Fennel
Cabbage Pumpkin Garlic
Caraway Radish Topinambur
Celery Rhubarb Leeks
Chard Rutabaga Lentils
Corn Sage Lovage
Courgette Spinach Onion
Cucumber Sunflower Pea
Dill Tarragon Wild garlic
Lettuce Turnip

Harvesting runner beans

The ripening period until the first harvest is approx. 75-100 days, depending on the variety. Fresh harvest throughout the summer. The young, tender beans taste best. It is therefore better to harvest runner beans early, before they become hard. They can be used together with the pod. Beans must always be cooked, as they are poisonous when raw! To obtain your own seeds, simply allow the pods to fully ripen on the plant and dry out. Then remove the bean seeds from the dry pods, allow them to dry again and store them for next year. Bean seeds generally keep for 3-4 years.

If you have any questions or comments, please write to us at [email protected]. Would you like to receive helpful gardening tips all year round and plan your own beds optimally? Then register here or download the Fryd app for Android or iOS.

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Marie studied agricultural science at the University of Hohenheim. Her main focus is on ecological agriculture and permaculture. She writes articles for Fryd to educate people about ecological interrelationships and alternatives to current land use. Our current economic systems, especially in agriculture, have numerous negative effects on nature and destabilize our ecosystems. We need a great diversity in our gardens and beds again to counteract the extinction of species. Every gardener can contribute to creating and maintaining habitats and food for a wide variety of creatures. With her articles, she would like to pass on her experience in dealing with natural systems and give people the opportunity to contribute to a stable ecosystem and thus also to securing our livelihood.

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They should be sown directly into the open ground from mid-May to the end of June. Runner beans are not usually pre-sown, but are sensitive to cold. You should therefore wait until after the Ice Saints before sowing.

The seeds are placed about 3 cm deep in the soil, pressed down well and kept moist until germination.

Yes, be sure to attach a climbing aid. You can bury 2-3 m high wooden poles vertically or tie them together to form a bean tipi.

The harvest time is around 75-100 days, depending on the variety. Runner beans should be harvested early, as long as they are young and tender.

PDF: instructions for a bean tepee

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