How To Successfully Grow Runner Beans In Pots And Containers
Runner beans are perennial plants but in colder climates are grown as annuals. They are a popular bean to grow as they are easy to care for and can produce a large crop from only a few plants. They can also tolerate some shade, making them ideal vegetables to grow in pots and containers in areas unsuitable for many other edibles.
If space is limited, runner beans are a good choice as they take advantage of vertical space. This can also create dimension and structure to an area. Runner beans produce pretty flowers, making it an attractive plant to grow in areas where they will be on view.
To grow runner beans successfully, they require a deep pot or container, at least a foot deep, and filled with rich compost. They also need a climbing structure of at least 5 feet, such as a wigwam of bamboo canes or strings attached to a wall. They will grow higher, so pinch out the growing tip when they reach the desired height.
To start the beans, sow them inside and then transplant outside a few weeks later to give them a good start, or they can be sown directly outside in the pot or container once the risk of frost has passed. If you do start them off inside, a handy way to do this is to use the cardboard insert tube of toilet rolls. Fill the tube with potting compost and sow the bean about 2cm deep inside. When the young plant is ready to be transferred outside, take the tube and put it in the compost in the pot or container with the plant still in situ. This will allow minimal root disturbance. The tube will rot away in the compost, allowing the roots to spread and grow.
The young plants are at risk of being damaged by slugs and snails. Use a physical barrier of fleece or other material to prevent them from reaching the young plants or manually pick them off before they have a chance to eat them. As the plants grow stronger, they will be less susceptible to the pests. The advantage of growing your beans in pots and containers is you can move them if you find their position is putting them at risk. Sometimes different areas of the garden are more susceptible to being invaded by slugs and snails, due to the surrounding conditions.
Runner beans hate dry compost and will become tough and stringy if neglected so make sure the compost is moist at all times. The compost should have lots of organic matter added to it, which will not only feed the plants but will also help retain moisture and mulching the surface will prevent evaporation.
Keep the plants well fed. Runner beans are hungry plants that need a lot of nutrients to produce a good crop so feed every few weeks, ideally with an organic feed, once they have started flowering to ensure a healthy, bountiful crop.
Pick the beans as soon as they are ready rather than leaving them on the plant for when they are needed. This will encourage the plants to produce more beans and will stop them going tough and stringy. Quite often there will be more beans than can be eaten and they are a popular vegetable to be shared with friends and family for this reason.Growing vegetables in pots and containers can be fun, saves money, provides healthy, tasty food and is ideal for those with only limited space.
Runner beans are great choice to grow in pots, rewarding the grower with attractive plants and a bountiful supply of food.
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Jen Smith (author) from UK on April 09, 2013:
Good point! Always good to check those dark and hidden areas they love. Any culprits in my garden are moved to a new home in a composed bin.
coliwobbles on April 07, 2013:
Don't use pots with lips because the slugs & snails hide under them during the day & then come out at night to eat your plants !
Jen Smith (author) from UK on March 28, 2012:
Thanks! I am pleased.
Suzanne Sheffield from Mid-Atlantic on March 28, 2012:
Your hubs about container gardening are so helpful!