Bush beans and pole beans both grow well in containers. Because beans are a warm weather plant, if your region has particularly cold springs where soil temperatures don’t warm up until late, container growing may be the solution. You can set the bean plants out for sun during the day and bring them in at night for protection until nighttime air temperatures are warm enough to keep them out overnight—65 to 85 degrees F.
But you can also grow beans in containers because you don’t have space or land for a garden—or simply because green bean plants would look beautiful on your deck or patio.
The secret to successfully growing green beans in containers is to have the right container, good light, a comfortable temperature for the plants, healthy soil, consistent water, and support for pole bean varieties. Hit all those targets and your container-grown green beans will be just fine!
Choosing a container depends first on what type of green beans you are going to grow. Bush beans need a soil depth of at least 6 to 7 inches while pole beans need at least 8 to 9 inches. As for diameter, always err on the side of bigger to give your plants enough room—and moisture—to grow. But 18 inches in diameter is usually sufficient for pole beans, 15 inches for bush beans.
Additionally, keep in mind that pole beans will need the support of a trellis, tall cage, or bamboo poles. You can set the support up inside the pot or place teepee poles around the outside of the container. The disadvantage of the latter arrangement is that you can’t move the container once the beans have started to climb. If you plan to put your support inside the container, take that into consideration when you choose the size.
Almost anything will do for a container, so long as it has drainage holes in the bottom. Wooden barrels and terra cotta pots hold green bean plants nicely. Avoid glazed pots, however, as they don’t allow excess water to evaporate and that could lead to rot.
Green beans need six to eight hours of sun per day—and more is just fine—to flourish. If they’re indoors during the day, they should be in a window that faces south or southwest. The light should be direct, not filtered. When you take your containers outside, make sure they’re situated to get full sun exposure, even if you have to move them around to do so.
Keep your plant’s soil moist, but not soggy, the first few weeks as the seeds germinate, and the plants establish themselves. After that, water as needed—whenever the topsoil feels dry. Check the soil’s moisture level periodically. You can use something as basic as a pencil to poke down into the soil to see where the moisture is.
For happy, healthy green beans, use a commercial soil mix developed for vegetables and legumes. Green beans are not very picky about their soil, but they do prefer it to be slightly acidic. So look for a potting soil that is 6.0 to 7.0 pH, or amend the mix to make it slightly acidic. Also, add some organic manure or vegetable fertilizer before planting your seeds.
Have you grown green beans in containers? Please tell us about your successes and challenges growing green beans in containers.