Horticultural Bean Plants – Learn About Growing Horticultural Beans

Horticultural Bean Plants – Learn About Growing Horticultural Beans

By: Laura Miller

Are you an adventurous type of gardener? Do you like growingnew varieties of vegetables each year? If this is the year to try a new type ofbean, consider growing French horticultural beans. These versatile beans areone of those must-try varieties to put on your gardener’s bucket list.

What is a Horticultural Bean?

French horticultural beans are not a specific variety, butrather a category or type of bean. (Other types of beans include snap, limaand soybeans.)Horticultural bean plants produce long, flat pods with large plump seeds. Theyhave a mild, nutty flavor and a beautiful color.

The attractive bean pods and plump seeds are one reasonhorticultural beans are popular with gardeners and home cooks, especially inFrance. Sometimes called cranberrybeans, horticultural bean plants produce pods and bean seeds which range incolor from white to cream with cranberry red speckles.

Growing Horticultural Beans

Planting and growing horticultural beans is not muchdifferent than cultivating other types of beans. They are available in both poleand bushvarieties. Like most beans,it’s best to wait until the soil has warmed in the spring before direct seedinghorticultural beans into the garden. Sow seeds to a depth of 1 inch (2.5 cm.).

Space seeds 2 inches (5 cm.) apart or thin, if necessary, togive plants sufficient room to mature. Pole varieties will need a trellis orfence to climb. Space rows of bush-type beans 24 to 26 inches (60 to 66 cm.) apartfor ease with harvesting.

When to Pick Horticultural Beans

French horticultural beans can be picked when young andtender and used as snap beans. The colorful pods become fibrous quickly, makingthese beans more popular for use as shelling beans. Shelling beans aregenerally harvested when the pods are mature, but still green. It takes mostvarieties about 65 to 70 days to mature.

At this stage, the bean is still fresh and tender anddoesn’t require soaking like dried beans. Once harvested, the beans can beeasily shelled and cooked fresh in a variety of dishes. They maintain a firmtexture and are ideal in stews, soups and as baked beans.

Horticultural bean plants don’t generally produce the yieldsseen in other types of beans. However, if gardeners find they have more freshbeans than they can use, there are a variety of ways to preserve them.Horticultural beans can be dried, canned or frozen. They can also be used inyouth craft projects, making these beans as fun as they are delicious!

This article was last updated on

French Beans

EASE OF GROWING: (Scale 1-5): 3


French beans are fairly time consuming. Time spent preparing the soil in the winter will be well repaid later. You will need to water in dry spells and could be picking beans daily in the height of summer.



French beans are expensive to buy in the supermarket unless you buy them frozen. There is a pleasure to be derived from picking your own beans in the sunshine that simply does not compare to buying in a supermarket. Freshly picked beans taste delicious too.


French beans need a rich fertile, moist retentive soil to thrive. Dig in loads of well rotted organic matter in late winter. Climbing beans will require a support to grow up which needs to be strong to hold the crop. In Stephanie’s kitchen garden we also erect a chicken wire barrier around our beans to prevent pigeons and mice from tucking in.


Sow in a greenhouse at the end of March in rootrainers. Transfer to a cold frame in mid April to harden off before planting out side in May when the last frosts have passed.


Plants should be spaced at 6 inches apart for dwarf bean varieties and 8 inches apart for climbing french beans.


Start harvesting as soon as the first beans appear from late June. Make sure you pick the beans regularly and when they are small as they will soon become mammoth beans that do not taste as good.


Pinch out the top of climbing beans when they reach the top of the support. This will encourage the plants to put their energy into producing more beans.


Pigeons and mice love to eat our bean seeds and young bean plants in Stephanie’s kitchen garden. We always start our beans off in rootrainers before planting out. We also use chicken wire to prevent young plants being eaten.

Unexpected late frosts can damage young plants. Have your fleece ready in case a frost is forecast.

1. All about Green Beans

Beans are one of the most versatile vegetables you can grow in your garden. They can be used to replace nitrogen in the soil, eaten fresh as green beans, and made into everything from soups and stews to baked beans.

The variety of beans available across species is really quite amazing, with literally hundreds of varieties available from traditional cultures as well as more modern breeds. There are seed catalogues that offer more than one hundred varieties, which is truly impressive. But in spite of this diversity, which is made possible by devoted seed savers, the reality is that most beans that are available at the grocer have come from only a few different cultivars.

In addition to that, beans are often grown in the same fields year after year, which forces commercial farmers to use inorganic methods such as pesticides and large amounts of chemical fertilizers. To compound the issue, due to various market forces stocks of dried beans are sometimes a few years old – or more. Unless you live in a rural area and are friends with a farmer, or have access to a farmers’ market, the best way to ensure you have good, organically grown beans is to learn how to grow green beans yourself. Fortunately, learning how to grow green beans is one of the easiest things a gardener can do.

The common green bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) includes a large number of different types which are called by many names. Those beans grown for the immature pod are known variously as snap beans, Romano or Italian beans, garden beans, green beans, string beans, French Horticultural beans, or wax beans. The common bean originated in Central America and was widely distributed by indigenous peoples of North and South America, who were the first people to learn how to grow green beans. The indigenous people ate the beans primarily in the green shell or dry bean stage.

The original snap beans were rather stringy, hence the name string bean. Early American settlers introduced the snap bean to Europe. Within the past forty years, the common bean has been almost entirely redesigned by plant breeders, and with the exception of heirloom varieties conserved by seed savers, few cultivars available before the 1950s are still around today.

1a. Varieties of Green Beans

Green beans can be separated into types of cultivars in a number of different ways, but for most backyard gardeners they can be categorized based on the plant’s physical characteristics, such as whether they are bush beans or pole beans, and how they are used in the kitchen, or whether they are used fresh as green beans or allowed to grow into dry beans. But they can also be categorized by even more distinctions such as whether they are lima beans, cow peas (also known as black eyed peas), yard long beans, and many, many more. But because of the fact that green beans will grow fairly easily anywhere in North America, the most important point to consider when you are deciding which variety you want for how to grow green beans in your backyard is your personal taste. While this guide is primarily focused on how to grow green beans, the advice I provide here can also be applied to any other kind of bean, as they all are grown very similarly.

When beans are grown fresh and contrasted with store bought green beans, you will soon notice a very big difference in flavor and texture that is simply unavailable in supermarket green beans. A green bean is certainly not only a green bean. For example, there is a huge dissimilarity in flavor and texture between, say, the Blue Lake and Kentucky Wonder cultivars. You may even find out that, like in my house, different family members prefer the taste of different varieties. The best plan of action when you are learning how to grow green beans is to grow more than one green bean variety every year. This way, you can continue to sample new cultivars while you also produce the cultivars you have found that you like best. Also, by growing a combination of green and dried bean cultivars, you will have a wide variety available for your kitchen all year long.

There are many cultivars of green beans. When you are learning how to grow green beans, you can choose between the bush type and pole type between green, yellow, and dry bean cultivars. Italian or Romano beans produce large, flat pods that have a distinctive flavor. Horticultural or French Horticultural beans are large seeded beans that produce colorful pods. The pods are striped and mottled in red. These beans are usually used as green shell beans.

Royalty is a bean that has a purple pod. This cultivar is a selection from seeds handed down through the years by a family of New England gardeners. It will germinate and grow in cooler soil than regular bens, and it is less bothered by bean beetles. Royal Burgundy is another bean variety that has a deep purple pod.

Instead of telling you precisely what you should learn to grow first, I will just provide a list of some of the cultivars that I have grown and liked. You can use this list as a beginning point for your own path of bean discovery.

Blue Lake Green Beans (Green Pole): There are a number of different cultivars of this green bean, including Oregon Blue Lake and California Blue Lake, and some of them have a wide range of resistance to diseases. Has a mild flavor. Sixty days to maturity.

Kentucky Wonder Green Beans (Green Pole): This is a really prolific pole bean that will produce seven inch long beans as long as you continue to harvest them. It has strong vines that will keep beans off the ground. It can be grown either for fresh green beans or for dried beans. Kentucky wonder has a distinct flavor and is great for canning or freezing. Fifty-seven days to maturity.

Tender Crop Green Beans (Green Bush): This variety has crisp, six inch, tender, meaty pods that do not have strings and that grow high off the ground. The tan seeds are mottled with purple spots. This variety is resistant to Bean Mosaic and Powder Mildew. Fifty-six days to maturity.

Midnight Black Turtle Green Beans (Dry Bush): This is an excellent variety of this South and Central American cultivar. The tall bush keeps the bean pods high off the ground. While it is less productive than some other varietals, it has a very distinctive flavor that makes it perfect for spicy soups, stews, and refrying. Ninety days to maturity.

Light Red Kidney Green Beans (Dry Bush): This is a great dry bush bean to grow for using in three bean salads, chili, and soups. The medium sized bush keeps the bean pods sufficiently high off the ground. Ninety-five days to maturity.

Burpee Improved Green Beans (Bush Lima): These are larger than other lima bean varieties, such as Fordhook or Henderson’s. The pods grow in clusters of three to five pods. Lima beans can be one of the more difficult beans to learn how to grow, especially because they need to be harvested when they are big but while they are also still immature. Seventy-five days to harvest.

Comments (7)

Aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

BreeRose, can't help you with a source but there's a bit more information in the link below. Apparently it is also know as "Early Rachel" or "The Rachel" bean.

Here is a link that might be useful: Quail Head


A grower in Iowa offered Quailhead bush dry bean in the SSE Yearbook until 2003:

IA SC D - 2003: a.k.a. Purple Cranberry, hort. type, rusty with maroon marks, from local family who grew it for 70 years.


There’s an array of problems which might impact your beans. From simple-to-fix issues through more complex and potentially plant-fatal problems, let’s go over everything that might cause your bean crop to fail.

Growing Problems

A crop of bush beans with side support. Source: library_chic

If you’re noticing your flowers falling off the vine, it’s either too cold or too hot for the plant to set fruit. Temperatures below 55 degrees can cause your plant to start trying to protect itself from the cooler weather. Over 90 degrees, your plant is trying to keep itself alive in the heat. While the only thing that will fix hot weather conditions is a nice cooling trend or possibly some shade cloth, there’s a solution for cold weather. Spread floating row covers over your plants to offer them added warmth.

Seeds not germinating? The soil is likely too cold. Bean seeds won’t germinate until the soil temperature is consistently over 60 degrees, and they prefer the outside temperature to be in the 70’s for best growth potential. You can place a cold frame over the soil to try to add a little extra warmth, or plant in raised beds which may be warmer quicker. Alternately, just wait a little longer to plant.


Mexican bean beetles can skeletonize leaves quickly. Source: Jason Riedy

There’s a wide variety of pests which will happily attack your beans, but the worst is the Mexican bean beetle. These beetles will rapidly skeletonize the leaves of your plants and scar your beans. Hand-pick them off your plants, and keep them from sticking around by spraying your plant with an azadirachtin spray like Azatrol EC.

Spider mites, aphids and thrips can suck the sap out of bean leaves, causing them to yellow, curl inward, or distort. To combat these tiny little garden pests, spray all surfaces of your bean plants with neem oil.

Adult cucumber beetles will nibble holes in the leaves of your plants while the larval stages will attack the roots. Using a pyrethrin spray such as Safer Brand Yard & Garden Spray will help wipe these pests out.

Japanese beetles will also happily chew bean leaves into little tatters. Repel these pests with a thorough spraying of neem oil.

The cutworm will literally make young bean plants collapse at the base, chewed cleanly through. Use a bacillus thurigiensis spray like Monterey BT to kill off these little caterpillars.

Leafhoppers, too, may find your plants to be appetizing targets. With the aid of a product like Bon-Neem, you can clear these pests out of your garden.

Finally, a surprising non-insect pest that most don’t consider is the woodchuck. While it’s not something tiny and rapidly-breeding, that doesn’t make it any less dangerous! Woodchucks will devour your crops if left unchecked. You can sprinkle a blend of blood meal and ground black pepper around your garden to deter these pests, or use a predator urine spray to keep them at bay. If those options don’t work, you may have to resort to traps and contacting animal control to haul them off.

Purple-pod pole beans showing signs of insect damage. Source: vigilant20


Sclerotina, also known as white mold, is a common fungal disease of beans – especially soybeans. While there are professional fungicides which can be utilized to combat this disease, there are few organic options. The best solution for the average home gardener is to avoid the causes of white mold. Avoid consistently wet leaves that can develop fungal issues, remove debris and fallen plant matter from around the base of the plant, and maintain good garden hygiene.

The bean mosaic virus is one of many mosaic virus varieties spread by leafhoppers and aphids. Once your plants are affected, there are no cures for this virus, and all impacted plants need to be removed and destroyed. Thus, your best protection is prevention. Avoid aphid and leafhopper infestation. Control weeds and remove plant debris. You can use a floating row cover over your plants to provide some mild protection if the weather is not too hot as well.

Both anthracnose and bean rust are other fungal diseases which can affect your plants in overly-moist, debris-strewn conditions. Garden hygiene around your bean plants is essential! Also, keep the leaves dry to prevent fungal spread. There are many cultivars that are resistant to these fungal diseases, so planting resistant strains can prevent outbreaks.

Downy mildew is especially a problem on lima beans, although it can be an issue for other large shelling beans like favas as well. Avoid overly-moist conditions, and maintain good air circulation around your plants. A neem oil spray can help reduce the spread of downy mildew, anthracnose, and bean rust.

Finally, bacterial blights can occur if bacteria develop on wet leaf surfaces and air circulation is hampered. Avoid crowding your bean plants and ensure they have plenty of air circulation. Also, avoid watering in the afternoon or evening when water will remain on your plants for longer. Opting for a ground-level watering system like a drip hose to keep moisture off your plant’s leaves is a good choice.

Pole beans. Source: toddheft

Watch the video: How To Plant and Grow Butter Wax Bean. Edible Gardening