Runner Beans

Runner Beans

Runner beans are a delightful veg plot staple that is distinctively British. These vines are simple to grow and yield a large crop in a short space. Over several months, the lovely red or white blossoms are followed by a profusion of long green pods. For excellent stringless beans, harvest them when they’re young.


Runner beans can’t tolerate the frost. Therefore, you must sow them indoors in late spring. However, planting them outdoors in early summer is also effective.  

Indoor sowing 

Sow the runner beans in a propagator or on a windowsill in May or late April. Sow one bean in each small pot to a depth of 2 inches. Additionally, it is also essential to harden off the young plants. Finally, it adapts the plants to outdoor conditions. However, you should not transfer the plants outdoors if there is a risk of frost (as already mentioned).

Outdoor sowing 

Late May or June after the frost is the perfect time to sow the plants outdoors. After sowing one seed in a small pot, put the pots in a sheltered location or cold frame. It would be best to plant the runner beans in their final spot after they are 3 inches tall. Usually, that is around June or July.

Another method of sowing the runner beans is to sow them directly in the ground. Mid-May to late June is the perfect time to sow them in the soil. Sow two seeds at the cane base at a distance of 6 inches and in the depth of 2 inches. To ensure protection from slugs and snails, make sure there is only one seeding per cane.


Runner beans grow well in a warm and sunny location. Dig in garden compost or manure before sowing or planting the runner beans. This is not necessary, but it will ensure that the roots get nutrients and retain moisture. Some gardeners advocate lining the trench with newspaper, but I have never found that to be beneficial.

Runner beans climb up and need support. Traditionally, it’s best to grow them against 8 ft tall bamboo canes. 

On the other hand, you can slope the bamboo canes to tie them in the middle. This wigwam method is better because it ensures better yield and better pricing.

Furthermore, attach the plants loosely to their support to help them climb naturally. Moreover, it is essential to trim the growing points when they reach the support top to encourage the growth of side stems.

Failure to Produce Flower Sets

Sometimes runner beans don’t produce pods or set after flowering. There could be several reasons for this failure occurring. However, it also comes with several solutions.

Here are some possible solutions for this issue:

  • Keep the soil moist.
  • Feed the crop with mulch after planting.
  • Water the plants regularly, especially in the evening.
  • Add some lime if the soil is acidic or neutral because alkaline soil is best to produce a flower set.
  • Grow beans with some French beans. It will help to set the better pods in warmer summers.


Harvest depends on the cultivar and time of sowing. Usually, it starts from mid-summer and lasts up to 8 weeks.  

Typically, you can harvest the pods when they are 6-8 inches long, tender, and young. The best time to gather them is when the beans have not started swelling.

Moreover, you should harvest the pods regularly before they get mature. Otherwise, there will be no flowering and no pod formation.

runner beans

Common problems

Black bean aphid

They suck sap and misshape the plants. Consequently, stems and leaves will not grow well.


  • Remove the infected tips
  • Capture and squash them when they are present on other beans

Slugs and snails

They eat young seedlings, leaving a slime trail in the soil around your crop and on leaves.


You can use biocontrols, copper tape, sawdust, and beer traps to control the slugs and snails.

No/fewer beans

It is a widely occurring issue in beans development. Poor pollination and lack of moisture are some of their causes. 


  • Sow beans into the soil where you have applied sufficient manure and organic matter last autumn.
  • Plants the beans in a sheltered place to ensure pollination.

Here are a few recipes for runners from Sainsburys.

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08/04/2021 | Vegetables | 0 Comments

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