Pole Beans: A Journey to the Top

Learn how to grow strong healthy pole beans. This guide provides all the instruction you’ll need from seed to harvest.

| September 25, 2012

  • Pole Beans
    To support pole beans, tie canes together to form a length of triangular supports.  Secure them at the top where they cross over, and lay a cane across the ridge, tying it to each support to give the whole structure rigidity.
    Courtesy of Mitchell Beazley
  • New  Encyclopedia of Gardening Techniques
    "The New Encyclopedia of Gardening Techniques" by the American Horticultural Society provides an in-depth look into gardening.  This book contains detailed instructions on planting pole beans along with many other vegetables.
    Cover Courtesy of Mitchell Beazley

  • Pole Beans
  • New  Encyclopedia of Gardening Techniques

Plant problems can be prevented with appropriate preparation and attention.  The American Horticultural Society’s New Encyclopedia of Gardening Techniques (Mitchell Beazley, 2009) gives instructions on planting from preparation to harvest.  This excerpt discusses growing pole beans and is taken from Chapter 4, "Growing Vegetables & Herbs." 

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The New Encyclopedia of Garden Techniques. 

Pole beans

Any vigorous bean that twines around poles or other supports as it grows is referred to as a pole bean. Local climate has a significant impact on which kinds of pole bean you will be able to grow—lima beans require much warmer conditions than runner beans. Sowing time and whether seed needs to be sown under protection will also depend on your local climate; seek local advice.

All pole beans thrive in full sun or in a little shade and in soil with a pH above 6. A sheltered position is essential as strong winds will topple these tall plants, damage developing pods, and impair pollination. Success also depends on lush growth, which can only be achieved with plenty of moisture. Before planting, dig plenty of well-rotted compost into the soil. In addition, apply an all-purpose fertilizer at the rate on the package.


Sow pole beans outdoors in late spring or early summer after all danger of frost has passed. In mild areas, you can make a second sowing in mid- to late summer for a fall crop. Plants can be raised indoors in small pots of all-purpose mix from midspring; this is essential where the soil is cold, heavy clay.  

By late spring the roots will be binding the growing mix and in mild districts the plants can be set out beneath a temporary row cover or under cloches. In colder areas, delay planting out until early summer.  

M. Widmer
4/6/2013 9:00:53 PM

Two years ago I tried pole beans, and the Japanese beetles ate all the leaves. Any suggestions for how to effectively control the beetles?


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