How to Plant, Grow, and Save Seeds from Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)

Dependable and easy to grow, beans produce rewarding crops in gardens across the country. Beans grow best in full sun, planted in well-drained and warm soil. While pole beans require trellising, bush beans can grow unsupported.

These growing instructions are for common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris). There are several other species of beans, including runner beans, lima beans, cowpeas, and soybeans.


Plant the bean seeds ½” deep and 2-3” apart directly into warm soil, once the danger of frost has passed.

You can build bamboo trellises for pole beans before planting the seeds.

Common beans can be affected by a number of diseases. Some of these diseases can remain in the soil for several years, so grow your beans in different areas of the garden each year. To prevent the spread of fungal and bacterial diseases among plants, avoid working in your bean patch when the foliage is wet.

The best way to get rid of beetles and bugs that might eat the leaves of your plants is to pick them off and toss them into a jar of soapy water.

Beans can be harvested in the snap/green stage, the shelling stage, or the dry stage. Try to harvest beans before the first frost, but some gardeners extend their season by covering their plants with sheets, blankets, or row cover ahead of cold weather.

Snap or green beans are ready for harvest when the pods are still tender, before the seeds start to swell. Shelling beans are ready for harvest after the pod has changed color and the beans have plumped, but before the pods and seeds have dried. Dry beans are ready for harvest when the pods are dry and brittle and the seeds inside are hard.

Eating and Storing

Green (snap) beans are best eaten fresh, canned, or frozen. Shelling beans are best eaten fresh and must be removed from their shells before being eaten. Dry beans must be soaked and boiled before eating. They can be stored dry for months or years.

Saving Seeds

Beans are an annual crop. They will complete their full life cycle, including germination, reproduction, and death, in one growing season.

It is important to remember that different varieties of beans must be isolated from one another in the garden. If you are growing more than one variety, space each of them as far apart as possible from any other bean. Space varieties at least 100 feet from each other.

Only save seeds from healthy plants. Harvest the bean seeds when they are very hard and their pods are dry and brittle. If bean pods are not completely dry before the first frost, pull the plants up and dry them further indoors.

When the bean pods are completely dry, break them open to release the seeds. Separate the seeds from the chaff.

Store beans in cool, dark, and dry places and always keep them in an airtight container to keep out moisture and humidity. Under these conditions, you can expect your bean seeds to live 3-4 years.