3 In Edibles/ Gardening

Growing Scarlet Emperor Beans

How To Grow Scarlet Runner Beans

More commonly known as the Runner Bean, these beautiful and vibrant flowering vines produce a delicious harvest. You can pick and enjoy them all summer through late fall. When you open the giant green pods, the bean itself is a stunning mix of pink and purple. A huge plus I've noticed when growing this variety of bean, is that the tiny red flowers attract hummingbirds to your garden! They swarm the tall, thick vines and sometimes will even use them as a resting place to sit and relax.

What You Need

• A sunny location
• Sturdy support

• Well-drained soil
• Plenty of room to grow

These beans definitely need a sturdy support system to thrive. The vines can become very heavy, especially when they start to produce. The bean pod itself can be quite large and needs protection from strong winds and rainstorms that can weigh them down. I learned the hard way that if you don't have proper support put in place before a storm hits, it can make a huge mess in your garden. It is much easier to deal with the young vines rather than struggle with the heavy, fully mature vines. Runner bean vines can grow up to 6 feet high! I used a trellis in my raised garden bed for support. Another great option is building a bean teepee. I'm going to give that a try later this year.

Read this helpful article on how to make a bean teepee
Click Here
article by The Gardening Cook

Runner Bean Vines

Young vines growing up the trellis

Seed Information

•Direct sow 1 to 2 weeks after frost
•Cover with soil and lightly press seeds 1" below surface
•Sow seeds around the base of trellis. This will help vines attach around base as they begin to climb.

Make sure to water gently right after planting.

In about 7 to 10 days you should begin seeing your seedling start to emerge.

Thin out seeds if necessary. 

Vines don't need much extra assistance climbing a trellis. They have no trouble grabbing onto anything close, so make sure other garden vegetables and plants are spaced far enough away.

White and red petunias planted at the base of my vines attracting pollinators

Companion Planting Tip: I planted petunias all around the base of my runner beans. They repel the Mexican bean beetle as well as a variety of other garden pests that might try to munch your plants! It also helps that they attract beneficial insects and pollinators all well looking beautiful in your garden


Harvesting Runner Beans

When it comes to harvesting runner beans, there are a few ways to do this. You can harvest them young when they are tasty and tender. This is known as a “snap bean” This is when the bean is about 4”-6” long. Simply twist the pod at the base off the vine and snap it open. The beans inside should be small, light pink and just starting the form. The pods can sometimes be hidden among the leaves and vines so make sure to frequently check! Also pick often as the pods can begin weighing down the vines. If you would like to harvest the beans for cooking, you can let the pods stay on the vine past maturity. They will become larger than 6” before picking. This allows the bean to become fully shelled. The beans inside will be a mix of bright pink and purple. This is also ideal if you want to save your seeds to replant. I highly recommend doing this at the end of the growing season to use next season or even trade some extras in seed swaps! Make sure to store your seeds in a dry, safe location until use.

If you have a successful growing season and your plants don’t develop disease, make sure to compost leftover plant material. I used a drip hose irrigation system during the hot summer months to make sure my soil never became too dry. I also used a daily self timer so that my plants received consistent watering. I planted my runner bean seeds in potting soil mixed with peat moss. A good tip I've learned is to lightly mist the flowers as well as the foliage to encourage more blooms.

Hummingbird resting on the Scarlet Emperor vines

Now that I have grown these beans, I can't imagine a summer without seeing the beautiful red blooms in my vegetable garden. I'm sure the hummingbirds feel the same way too!

Have you grown runner beans in your garden?

I would love to know about any tips you have. Also feel free to share any stories of your own!

Have any questions for me? Please leave them in the comment section below.{


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  • Brandon Coppin
    February 21, 2015 at 11:34 am

    Angie, we just discovered your blog and love it. The photography is stunning. Thank you for sharing growing tips about our runner beans.
    – Brandon Coppin, Director of Social Media, Botanical Interests, Inc

    • Angie Rose
      February 21, 2015 at 1:36 pm

      Hey Brandon! So happy you and Botanical Interests found my blog 🙂 Thank you for the your kind words. I always enjoy sharing information with others about your wonderful seeds. Have a great weekend!

  • Jen
    November 10, 2015 at 2:00 am

    Hi Angie,
    what a beautiful site? Thanks for your article and the lovely photographs!
    Have a great week, Jen