With their lush foliage and bright scarlet flowers, runner beans are ornamental plants that can climb to more than 8ft (2.4m) in height. They are tender and need warmth to germinate, so for early crops sow indoors from mid-spring, or wait until late spring to sow into pots outside. Push the large seeds 2in (5cm) deep into the compost and allow 6in (15cm) between plants in their final positions. Choose a deep container, at least 18in (45cm) in diameter, and add sturdy supports about 6ft (1.8m) high for the plants to grow up. Beans flourish in a sunny, sheltered site. In more exposed gardens, grow dwarf cultivars, such as ‘Hestia,’ that need no supports.
How to Plant
- To get runner beans off to an early start, from mid- to late spring
plant single seeds about 2in (5cm) deep in small pots filled with
multipurpose compost. Water well, and keep indoors or in a heated
greenhouse to germinate.
- Gradually acclimatize plants to outdoor conditions and plant out once the risk of frost has passed. Fill a large, deep container with compost and push tall stakes into the pot, tying them together securely with twine.
- Water the beans well, knock each from its pot, and place in holes made at the base of the stakes. Fill around the roots, firm the compost, and water in well. Tie each bean to its stake to help it to start climbing.
Aftercare and Harvesting
Runner beans need plenty of moisture to produce a good crop, so never allow pots to dry out. Tie young plants to their supports, and feed weekly with a tomato fertilizer when the flowers appear. Pick beans when young to encourage more crops to form.