All varieties of beans are staple items found in the home garden and kitchen. Beans are versatile, have a long shelf life, are filled with protein, fiber, and other nutrients, and they are easy to grow in your garden.
Bush beans vs. pole beans is the dilemma many gardeners face. Each bean variety has its pros and cons but also similarities. The decision on which type to grow often comes down to two factors:
- Personal taste preference
- And available growing space.
So what are the main differences between bush beans and pole beans? Generally, pole beans, particularly scarlet runner beans, thrive in cooler summers, whereas bush beans grow well in moderate to hot summers. For optimal results, pole beans require at least 72 to 96 inches (183 to 244 cm) tall and sturdy enough to resist strong winds and rain (Source: Clemson University)
Read on to discover the good, bad, and same in the battle of bush beans vs. pole beans.
If you are interested in growing beans indoors, I wrote a detailed article about everything you to know before starting green beans indoors.
What Is Bush Beans?
This bean variety grows on a small bush, hence the name. Most of your favorite bean varieties can be grown on bushes, like green, wax, purple, Italian, pintos, and kidney.
If you are growing bush beans, I encourage you to read this article about the 17 best companion plants for bush beans, including 3 plants to avoid!
The table below contains the pros and cons of bush beans:
|Pros Of Bush Beans||Cons Of Bush Beans|
|– Bush beans can be grown in containers or in-ground gardens.|
– The bushes will be around 2 feet tall when mature.
– Bush beans do not need a trellis system.
– They mature faster than pole beans and will be ready to harvest 50-60 days after planting.
– All the beans will ripen at once, making this variety ideal for preserving.
– Bush beans can be stagger planted every 2 weeks to extend the harvest season.
– Bush beans thrive during the heat of summer.
– Produce pollen-filled blooms that attract pollinators.
– Require less maintenance than pole beans.
– Most varieties are disease resistant.
– Bush beans improve the soil by adding nitrogen (all legumes do).
|– Bush beans stop producing earlier than pole beans.|
– Must bend over to harvest the beans.
– Require more garden space than pole beans, 2-3 feet per plant.
– Can’t be inter-cropped because the bushes shade the soil too much to allow other crops to grow.
What Are Pole Beans?
Pole beans acquired this name because they grow into long vines that need to be supported by a pole. This bean variety will develop vines that will reach 6-15 feet in length, depending on the variety planted.
The table below shows the pros and cons of pole beans
|Pros Of Pole Beans||Cons Of Pole Beans|
|– Pole beans are sweeter and contain more starch than bush beans.|
– Have a longer harvest season. Pole beans will continue to produce from late spring until the first frost in fall.
– These beans are harvested from standing, so you don’t have to bend over.
– Require less garden space to grow – only 6 inches are needed between plants.
– The soil space under the pole bean vines can be used to grow small-sized crops like radishes, lettuce, and carrots. This will allow more crops to be grown in the same space.
– The long-lasting bean vines can have several crops grown in the soil under them throughout the summer. Radishes mature in 30 days. Lettuce, carrots, etc., mature in 40-50 days, and by rotating the crops under the pole bean vines, you will be able to double and triple the food production of your garden.
– Pole beans can also be planted with corn or sunflowers so they will have a natural trellis system to grow up.
– Pole beans are one of the three original members of the Three Sisters inter-cropping method. Corn, pole beans, and squash are known as the Three Sisters. They provide benefits to each other and allow you to triple the amount of food grown in one space. The corn provides a trellis for the pole beans, the large squash leaves shade the shallow roots of the corn and prevent weed growth, and the pole beans add nitrogen to the soil.
– Pole beans develop larger beans and can be harvested continually throughout the summer.
– Immature pole beans can be harvested and used in stir-fry recipes; mature beans can be harvested and cooked as green beans; beans can be allowed to dry on the vines and then harvested and cooked like dry pinto or kidney beans. The dry beans can be saved as seeds for next season’s garden.
– Pole beans have many varieties, like the long, flat Romano beans. Romanos are considered to be gourmet green beans and are flat, thick, and stringless. Romano beans can be harvested when the bean pods are green or allowed to remain on the vines until they turn a streaked red and white color, then used as dried beans.
– Some pole beans are slender and round and reach up to 11 inches long while remaining tender and tasty. The stringless varieties can be eaten raw or cooked.
– Yard Long pole beans can reach up to 3 feet in length when mature, so it won’t take many of these vines to grow a large harvest. Yard-long pole beans are space savers in the garden and make an attractive feature in the garden landscape.
– Pole beans are colorful and come in varieties that produce purple, yellow, streaked, and green pods.
– The small pole bean blooms are colorful and filled with pollen that will attract and feed pollinators. Bees and butterflies find the bean blooms irresistible, so you help the pollinator population when you plant and grow green beans in your home garden.
– Blue Lake pole beans produce white blooms; Kentucky Wonder pole beans have white or purple blooms; Rattlesnake beans produce purple blooms and long streaked pods; Scarlet Wonder pole beans produce red blooms, and the Yard Long variety produces blooms that are white, and pink, or purple.
– Pole beans are ideal for incorporating into a flower garden that is planted along a fence line. The vines, blooms, and beans are attractive, and the fence will support the vines to grow on.
– Purple Podded pole beans are often grown strictly as an ornamental plant even though the bean pods are edible. These pole beans are high-yielding, stringless, tender, and purple. Vines are shorter than most and will only reach 6 feet in length when mature.
– Pole beans thrive in cooler weather and slow down production during mid-summer.
|– They will need a support system, and the vines will periodically need to be trained to grow around the vertical support.|
– You will need plenty of vertical space for the vines.
– Pole beans are not a good choice for a container garden that is located on a balcony or porch.
– Pole beans need 65-70 days to go from planting time to harvest.
Differences Between Bush Beans And Pole Beans
Bean, also known as Phaseolus vulgaris, is a large genus of annual vegetables in the pea family. They are legumes that acquire nitrogen from the air.
You might also enjoy reading: Growing Pole Beans: 9 Best Ways To Make Them Thrive!
The table below contains the main differences between bush beans and pole beans.
|Characteristics||Bush Beans||Pole Beans|
|Soil Requirements||Bush beans do well in fertile, moist, organically rich, and well-drained loams.||Pole beans thrive in rich, fertile, moist, and well-drained loams.|
|Sun Light Requirements||Full sun||Full sun|
|Harvest Time||45 to 60 days||55 to 65 days|
|Support Requirement||Bush beans do not require support or trellis||Pole beans require support or trellis|
|Suggested Propagation Method||By seed||By seed|
|Planting Time||The last spring frost date||The last spring frost date|
|Mature Seize||18 to 30 inches (46 to 76.2 cm) or more||15 inches (38.1 cm)|
|Flowers Colours||Pink, white, red, or yellow||Yellow, white, red, or pink|
|Commons Diseases And Problems||– Mosaic viral disease|
– Bacterial blight
– Powdery mildew and white mold
– Mexican bean beetles
– Japanese beetles
– Aphids and leafhoppers.
|– Aphids and leafhoppers.|
– Mosaic viral disease
– Bacterial blight
– Mexican bean beetles
– Powdery mildew and white mold
– Japanese beetles
Best Of Both Bean Varieties
Some pole bean varieties are available in bush varieties, so you can have the best of both worlds. Kentucky Wonder Bush combines the notable best pole bean variety with the more manageable bush plant.
As more people began to be interested in growing food in their backyard, plant breeders began to develop crop varieties that were more friendly to small backyard gardens. Not everyone interested in growing food has enough outdoor space for vines that can reach up to 10-15 feet in length, as the Kentucky Wonder Pole Bean variety does.
Home gardeners wanted the flavorful green beans but not the long vines and the trellis support needed for them. Kentucky Wonder Bush goes from seed planting time to bean harvesting time in 50-60 days. The bushes will reach a mature height of 20 inches and are ideal for growing in containers on a balcony, porch, or deck.
The small size, hardy bush, and abundant harvest make this pole bush bean one of the most popular green bean varieties for home gardeners that have small growing spaces.
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