How to Plant and Grow Scarlet Runner Beans

Scarlet Runner beans, a new world native, are prized not only for their ornamental aesthetic value, but as a harvestable edible food crop.

The seeds are lavender to black, they grow rapidly climbing trellises, arbors and fences and produce beautiful red – orange blossoms as they go. The pods, flowers and beans are all edible. The pods are best used when young and tender. 

  • Phaseolus coccineus   
  • Soil pH: 6.0 -7.5   
  • Full sun to Partial Shade   
  • Not Heat Resistant

There are varying sizes of runner beans ,there are miniature dwarf varieties and intermediate ones. There are also non-running running beans- bush varieties, which will only grow a few feet tall 

Some varieties of runner beans produce varying colors, such as ‘Sunset‘ which has peach tone blossom some are bi-colored , and others produce a white flower. The white varieties produce a white bean.

Scarlet runner bean vines with orange and red flowers and bean pods.

Pole Runner Beans are the most popular, they can grow insanely rampant , up to 10 feet and need a supporting trellis, tee pee or fence. The pods can be 10 – 18 inches long.


Some of the drawbacks to growing runner beans are

A. Low production, which is one reason they are not often grown commercially.

B. They do not tolerate temperature extremes. High temperatures for prolonged periods generally causes the blossoms to drop. In hotter regions , the best pod production is in late summer and early Autumn.

C. They are not self pollinating and require pollinators such as bees and butterflies to induce production. Other than the few drawbacks they are relatively easy to grow throughout the US and Canada . They will germinate in cooler soil temperatures , while many other beans will rot.


Runner Beans can be planted outdoors about a week before the average last frost date in early spring, earlier than most bean varieties. A location with full sun is okay in temperate zones, but in hotter regions partial shade is best.

Sow seeds about 1 inch deep in non-compacted well-drained soil . Runner beans grown as climbers should be spaced about 4 -5 inches apart and thinned out , removing 1 of every 4 – leaving only the strongest and healthiest and removing the scraggly ones.

Bush or dwarf runner beans should be spaced 5 – 6 inches apart in rows about 2 1/2 feet apart. Spacing may vary somewhat depending on the variety, consult the seed packet or supplier.

If you start them indoors using peat pots, or another biodegradable container a few weeks weeks prior to transplanting outdoors. They frequently suffer from transplant shock – so hardening off is recommended, as well as taking care not to damage the root system when transplanting them.


Keep the seeds moist during the germination stage and maintain a consistent watering as seedlings. They emerge rather quickly, generally under a week, and grow quickly also. An organic mulch will help retain soil moisture while they are growing.

Established Runner beans are not very prone to pest or disease problems. Germinating seeds however become victims of Slugs and occasionally rodents and birds. Excessive watering, can cause root rot.

Harvest and Storage

The flowers are edible and can be harvested as they appear. They are added to many vegetable dishes and salads.

As they mature, they can be harvested like snap beans, pod and all and devoured fresh. For this use they should be harvested while the pods are very young, generally no more than 6 inches, the pod should be flat as opposed to showing the tell tale signs of bulging seeds within.

Harvesting is an continual process once they begin to mature. Harvesting beans continuously, will promote new flowers and beans.

Your best time to harvest is when the beans become firm and can be easily snapped. If you wait too long, they become fibrous and less desirable. Overripe beans still on the plant are also a drain on the plants development of more beans.

When the seeds are fully formed within the pods they are referred to as shell beans. The beans should be taken from the pod moist and shiny, before they dry out. 

Once the pods begin to wither, dry out and turn brittle your final harvest for the season has arrived. Gather up remaining pods and store them in a dry location, or shell them right away. They store for up to a year under proper conditions.