How to grow Runner Beans

Runner beans stand as a cornerstone of any vegetable plot, offering unparalleled productivity and abundant yields that often exceed gardeners’ expectations. With their voracious growth habits, these beans thrive in humus-rich soil, making the creation of a dedicated bean trench a wise investment for optimal performance.

Creating the Runner Bean Trench

Start the trench in winter by excavating a trench approximately 12-14 inches deep and 12 inches wide. Line the trench with newspaper and fill it with a blend of kitchen waste and cardboard, covering it with soil to decompose. By springtime, this nutrient-rich compost will provide the perfect growing medium for your plants.


Exercise patience when sowing runner beans, waiting until April/May for indoor sowing or mid-May for direct sowing outdoors. Plant seeds at a depth of 2 inches at the base of sturdy canes, spacing 2 or 3 plants per cane for optimal growth and airflow.

Training and Support

Runner beans are traditionally grown up bamboo canes spaced roughly 10-12 inches apart within rows set 12-16 inches apart. Angle the canes to meet at the top, creating a sturdy framework capable of supporting the weight of maturing bean plants. As vines ascend, they’ll naturally twine around the canes, but be sure to pinch out growing tips once they reach the top to encourage bushier growth and maximize yield potential


As pods begin to form, harvest the tender, succulent beans to enjoy fresh from the vine. Alternatively, allow pods to mature for longer, harvesting the beans as needed or allowing pods to swell for a hearty bean harvest. For those seeking seeds for future plantings, allow pods to dry on the vine before harvesting and saving for next year’s crop.


When selecting runner beans for your garden, consider notable varieties renowned for their productivity, flavor, and disease resistance:

  • Scarlet Emperor: Super early crop for a runner bean, an old variety produced long heavy runner beans.
  • Achievement: Bright red flowers can be found on the plant before riping making it very popular with home growers!

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