Growing and Saving the Seed Of Runner Bean

Latin name Phaseolus coccineus, the runner bean is a short-lived perennial in freeze-free climates, but it is typically grown as a half hardy annual. A vining member of the legume family. The vibrantly colored flowers are highly ornamental and irresistable to hummingbirds. 



Runner beans are native to Central America. Their history is rooted in ancient indigenous cultures of the Central American highlands, where they played an essential role as a medicinal and nutritious staple crop.


  • Ornamental and edible.
  • The beans are creamy and delicious, and they must be soaked and cooked before eating.
  • Runner bean flowers are edible as well, and hummingbirds can't resist them!



  • Runner beans are more cold hardy than common beans, but they do not tolerate frost when germinating. It is best to wait until soil has reliably warmed before sowing.
  • Direct sow seeds 1-1.5 inches deep and space plants 4-8 inches apart. Alternatively, sow indoors and transplant out after all chance of frost has passed.
  • Ideal germination temperature is 60-70 F.
  • Runner beans have hypogeal germination, which means the bean germinates and cotyledons remain below ground before the stem and leaves emerge.
  • Seeds germinate in 7-14 days.


  • Prefers full sun.
  • Provide well-drained soil, preferably with good organic matter. Too much nitrogen, however, will prevent blooming.
  • Consistent watering, especially during bloom time, is key.


  • Susceptible to rust and anthracnose. These issues can be avoided by watering only the roots/base of plant and not allowing water to splash onto the leaves when watering with a hose.
  • Aphids can be controlled with neem.
  • Mexican Bean Beetle can be controlled with diatomaceous earth.


  • A self-pollinating bean that can on occasion be insect pollinated. To prevent crossing between different runner bean varieties, isolate by 500 feet.
  • Allow pods to brown and dry. Beans are ready for saving when they are so hard that your fingernail cannot dent them.
  • Store in a cool, dark, dry place.
  • The vines also produce a tuber that can be dug in fall and saved over winter. This can be replanted in spring and plants will establish and bloom earlier.