How to grow runner beans: in borders or containers

Learn how to grow runner beans – one of the easiest and most abundant homegrown crops

How to grow runner beans
(Image credit: Getty)

Want to learn how to grow runner beans? The humble runner bean is a healthy and tasty addition to your dinner table, delicious simply steamed. Runner beans are also quite easy to grow; like most other vegetables and fruit, though, they prefer a sunny, sheltered position. Find out what the other steps to growing them are below.

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How to grow runner beans

Method:

1. Sow the runner bean seeds in small containers about two inches deep in April. Keep indoors in a warm, sunny position and water regularly. 

2. When the seedlings are beginning to grow leaves, usually at some point in May, plant them out about six inches apart and two to three inches deep. Use support canes or a trellis. Canes should be put in in a criss-cross position to allow the plants to wrap around them. 

3. Pinch the young plants regularly to encourage bushy growth and a better harvest. Water regularly: not watering your beans enough will result in a poor harvest.

4. Harvest the beans from July onwards, when they are about eight inches long. Keep picking them regularly to prolong harvest. Surplus crop can be frozen. 

How to grow runner beans in containers

Runner beans do very well in a large container on a patio: you can sow them directly where they are to grow, but make sure to only put the container outside when all risk of frost has passed, usually in mid-late May. Containers dry out your plants more, so water them constantly.

How to build runner bean supports

There are two main ways to build runner bean supports: in an A-shape, or as wigwams. In each case, you'll need bamboo cane wooden poles (both sold at garden  centres) and garden twine. If building an A-frame, you'll need them to be about six feet tall and to position them about six inches apart. Make sure each pole is at least two inches in, then tie them securely with garden twine, going around then underneath the cross.

Wigwam supports are even easier to build – just gather them at the top and tie together. Allow for a 30cm (12-inch) diameter, which is about the size of a container you'll need for your beans.