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Growing Guide: Runner Beans

Two pink beans in a split open green pod, on top of a pile of black and red speckled beans

Grow and Save Runner Bean Seeds

How to Grow Runner Beans

These plants are often grown as ornamentals, owing to their large and often bright red flowers, as well as for their edible seeds.

Time of Planting

Direct-sow seeds into warm soil once the danger of frost has passed.

Spacing Requirements

Plant bean seeds ½” deep and 2-3″ apart. Space rows at least 24” apart.

Common Pests and Diseases

Runner beans can be affected by a number of diseases, including anthracnose, bacterial brown spot, and bacterial wilt. Some of these diseases can remain in the soil for several years, so grow your beans in different areas of the garden each year. To prevent the spread of fungal and bacterial diseases among plants, avoid working in your bean patch when the foliage is wet.

When and How to Harvest for Food Consumption

Runner beans are ready for harvest when the pods are dry and brittle and the seeds inside are hard.


Runner beans must be soaked and boiled before eating.


Dry runner bean seeds can be stored for months or years. If you think insects might be present in your stored beans, freeze them in an airtight container and then store the beans thawed.

How to Save Runner Bean Seeds

Life Cycle


Recommended Isolation Distance

When saving seeds from runner beans, separate varieties by 160-500 feet.

Recommended Population Sizes

A single runner bean plant will produce viable seeds. To maintain a variety over time, save seeds from between 10-25 plants.

Assessing Seed Maturity

Harvest the runner bean seeds when they are very hard and their pods are dry and brittle.


If your runner bean pods are not completely dry before the first frost, pull the plants up and dry them further indoors.

Cleaning and Processing

When the runner bean pods are completely dry, break them open to release the seeds. Separate the seeds from the chaff. If you are saving a large number of runner bean seeds, you can thresh and winnow the pods to separate the seeds and chaff.

Storage and Viability

Store runner beans in a cool, dark, and dry place in an airtight container to keep out moisture and humidity. Under these conditions, runner bean seeds will remain viable for 3-4 years.