Grow and Save Runner Bean Seeds

How to Plant, Grow, and Save Seeds from Runner Beans

These plants are often grown as ornamentals, owing to their large and often bright red flowers, as well as for their edible seeds.


Direct-sow bean seeds ½” deep and 2-3” apart in warm soil once the danger of frost has passed. Space rows at least 24” apart.

Runner beans can be affected by a number of diseases, including anthracnose, bacterial brown spot, and bacterial wilt. 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.

Runner beans are ready for harvest when the pods are dry and brittle and the seeds inside are hard.

Eating and Storing

Runner beans must be soaked and boiled before eating. They can be stored dry for months or years. If you think insects might be present in your stored beans, freeze them in an airtight container and then store the beans thawed.

Saving Seeds

Runner bean is an annual crop. It will complete its full life cycle, including germination, reproduction, and death, in one growing season.

When saving seeds from runner bean, separate varieties by 160-500 feet. A single runner bean plant will produce viable seeds. To maintain a variety over time, save seeds from between 10-25 plants.

Saving seeds from runner beans is straightforward. You should only save seeds from healthy plants. Harvest the runner bean seeds when they are very hard and their pods are dry and brittle. If your runner bean pods are not completely dry before the first frost, pull the plants up and dry them further indoors.

When the runner bean pods are completely dry, break them open to release the seeds. Separate the seeds from the chaff. If you are saving a large number of runner bean seeds, you can thresh and winnow the pods to separate the seeds and chaff.

Store runner beans in a cool, dark, and dry place in an airtight container to keep out moisture and humidity. Under these conditions, runner bean seeds will remain viable for 3-4 years.

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