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Bean Growing Problems: Troubleshooting

Green Bean Sprouts1
Beans growing problems avoided in warm weather.
Avoid bean growing problems by growing beans when temperatures have warmed and nights are no longer chilly.

Beans: garden beans–including pole, bush, and shell–lima beans, mung beans, scarlet runner beans, asparagus beans, and southern peas (which are not beans but share similar cultural requirements). All of these crops share similar problems.

Here is a list of common bean problems and possible causes and cures. For more on vegetable garden pests and diseases see the Pest Problem Solver and the Disease Problem Solver in the Index.

Bean problems: possible causes and cures:

Seedlings fail to emerge. Several possible causes: (1) Beans are a warm weather crop and seed may rot in soil less than 50° to 60° F. Delay planting until the soil has warmed; (2) Soil is heavy or crusted; seedlings may not be able to push through. Add aged compost to the planting bed; cover seed with light compost mulch; (3) Seed was sown too deep or not deep enough. Beans planted in spring 2 inches deep or more may rot and fail to germinate. Beans planted at the end of spring or in summer may dry out and die if sown less than 1 inch deep. Plant beans about 1 inch deep in early spring; 2 inches deep later in the season.

Seedlings are sheared or cut at the soil level, wilt and fall over. Cutworms are gray grubs curled in soil at base of plants. Keep garden clean of debris and plant residue. Keep garden weed-free. Use cardboard collars around seedlings.

Seedlings are deformed or have no growing tips or leaves when they emerge. Seed corn maggots are the small yellowish-white larvae of small gray flies. Keep the garden clean. Cultivate to expose the larvae and disturb the life cycle. Replant when the weather is warmer.

Seeds rot or seedlings collapse with dark water-soaked stems as soon as they appear. Damping off is a fungus that lives in the soil, particularly where humidity is high. Do not plant in cold, moist soil. Make sure soil is well drained.

Seedlings are stunted and never recover. Cold soil and weather can weaken seedlings that do emerge too early. The soil temperature is likely below 60°F. Pull up the seedlings, warm the soil with black or clear plastic, and sow new seed.

Seedlings and plants stunted; leaves yellowed and distorted. Thrips are tan to black bugs that look like slivers of wood; Thrips feed on plants, rasping plant tissue. Seedlings are most affected. Plants will outgrow and recover thrip attack.

Tiny shot-holes in leaves of seedlings. Flea beetles are tiny bronze or black beetles a sixteenth of an inch long. They eat small holes in the leaves of seedlings and small transplants. The larvae feed on roots of germinating plants. Spread diatomaceous earth around seedling. Cultivate often to disrupt life cycle. Keep garden clean.

Large irregular shaped holes in leaves. Bean leaf beetles are reddish to yellowish-orange about ¼-inch long with black spots on their backs and black margins on their front wings. Larvae will bore into roots. Hand pick and destroy. Keep the garden clean. Cultivate to 6 inches in spring to destroy larvae and disrupt the life cycle. Exclude beetles with floating row cover.

Holes chewed in leaves, leaves skeletonized. Spotted cucumber beetle is greenish, yellowish, ¼ inch (7mm) long with black spots and black head. Striped cucumber beetle has wide black stripes on wing covers. Hand pick; mulch around plants; plant resistant varieties; dust with wood ashes.

Leaves are skeletonized. Mexican bean beetle or Japanese beetle: Mexican bean beetle is a coppery-yellow bug the size and shape of a ladybug, about ¼-inch long with 16 black spots on winger covers. The larva is yellow with a long black-tipped spine. Beetles and larvae feed on undersides of bean leaves. Egg masses are on undersides of leaves. Japanese beetles have iridescent green wing covers. Handpick and crush beetles and eggs. Plant late in cool regions and early in warm regions to avoid first egg laying. Exclude beetles from the garden with row covers. Coat plants with kaolin clay to discourage feed and egg-laying.

Leaves curl under and become deformed; shiny, sticky honeydew on leaf surfaces; black sooty mold may follow. Aphids are tiny, oval, and yellowish to greenish pear-shaped insects that colonize on the undersides of leaves. They suck plant juices and leave behind sticky excrement called honeydew. Use insecticidal soap. Ants farm aphids; control ants with sticky barrier.

Leaves yellow; shiny sticky honeydew on leaf surface. Clouds of tiny white insects fly when plant is disturbed. Whiteflies congregate on the undersides of leaves and fly up when disturbed. Remove infested leaves and the whole plant if infestation is serious. Introduce beneficial insects into the garden. Whiteflies do not reduce yields.

White speckling or stippling on upper leaf surface, tip and margin appear scorched; white cast insect skins on underside of leaves. Leafhoppers are green, brown, or yellow bugs to ⅓-inch long with wedge-shaped wings. They jump sideways and suck the juices from plants. Use insecticidal soap. Cover plants with floating row covers to exclude bugs; spray with insecticidal soap.

Top of leaves speckled or stippled white or yellow; fine gray webbing on undersides of leaves; leaves eventually turn pale green, yellow then brown. Spider mites suck plant juices causing stippling. Keep plants well watered. Wash mites off leaves with spray of water or use insecticidal soap or rotenone. Ladybugs and lacewings eat mites.

Gray mold or white mold grows on leaves, stems, or pods; rotting follows. Gray mold or white mold or mycelium is caused by a fungus prevalent in warm weather. White mold will also result in water-soaked leaves and rot. Increase space between plants to improve air circulation. Rotate crops. Remove plant debris and broadleaf weeds.

White, powdery spots on leaves and pods. Powdery mildew or downy mildew (usually only on lima beans) is caused by fungal spores. Spores germinate on dry plant surfaces when the humidity is high; spores do not germinate on wet leaves. Common in late summer or fall but does not result in loss of plant. Avoid water stress. Prune away infected leaves and pods. Keep garden free of plant debris. Rotate crops.

Water soaked spots on leaves, stems and pods become covered with cottony mold. Bacterial wilt clogs the circulatory system of plants. It is spread by cucumber beetles and is seen often where the soil stays moist. Remove and destroy infected plants before the disease spreads. Make sure soil is well drained. Control cucumber beetles with rotenone or sabadilla. Rotate crops.

Small brown spots on leaves are surrounded by yellow halos; water-soaked spots on pod. Bacterial blight is most severe where humidity is high for a long period. Avoid overhead watering. There is no cure. Remove infected plants. Rotate crops.

Round to angular streaks on leaves, reddish brown to black; sunken water-soaked areas on pods; pods shrivels and become watery. Anthracnose is a fungal disease. Remove and discard infected plants. Avoid working in the garden when it is wet which can result in spread of spores. Keep tools clean.

Leaves yellow; plants wilt and appear weak; sunken, red oval spots at base of stem; roots have red spots or streaks; plants turn brown and decay. Rhizoctonia or Fusarium root or stem rot is a fungal disease that favors warm soil. Remove infected plants and plant debris that harbor fungus. Rotate crops. Be sure transplants are not diseased. Rotate crops regularly. Solarize the soil in late spring or summer.

Rusty-orange to reddish brown or black blisters or pustules on stems and leaves. Rust is a fungus disease. It is most prevalent in humid regions. Prune away infected leaves or plants. Plant resistant varieties. Water evenly; avoid overhead watering.

Leaves pucker downward, veins turn purple; plant becomes stunted; pods are small and yield is low. Curly top virus is spread by leafhoppers. Once the virus hits lift and throw away the plants. Control leafhoppers. Remove and destroy diseased plants when first noticed.

Mottled light and dark green pattern on leaves; leaves are distorted and may become brittle and easily broken; plants are stunted. Mosaic virus has no cure; it is spread from plant to plant by aphids and leafhoppers. There is no cure for the virus. Plant resistant varieties. Remove diseased plants. Remove broadleaf weeds that serve as virus reservoir. Infected plants can produce edible fruit but the size and yield is reduced

Leaves turn yellow and then brown from the bottom up; plant loses vigor; plants appear stunted; roots appear to have knots or beads. Nematodes or wireworms: (1) Root-knot nematodes are microscopic worm-like animals that live in the film of water that coat soil particles; some are pests, some are not. Root-knot nematodes feed in the roots and stunt plant growth; they are most common in sandy soils. Rotate crops. Solarize the soil with clear plastic in mid-summer. (2) Wireworms are the soil-dwelling larvae of click beetles; they look like wirey-jointed worms. Check soil before planting; flood the soil if wireworms are present. Remove infested plants and surrounding soil.

Leaves wilt; plants appear stunted. Soil may be too wet or too dry or the soil may not be fertile. Add aged compost or organic matter to the soil to improve drainage and to improve soil nutrition. Give plants even, regular water, but do not over-water. Mulch in summer.

Plants flower, but blossoms drop. There are several possible reasons: (1) Night temperatures are too low, less than 55°F (13°C): use a hormone spray to improve fruit set during low temperatures and keep soil evenly moist. (2) Day temperatures are too high, greater than 90°F (32°C): there is no solution, temperatures must drop. Also weather may be windy. (3) Smog during blossoming period: tap on blossoms 3 times a week when flowers are open to assist pollination. (4) Too much nitrogen in the soil: feed plants properly; (5) too much shade: plant beans in full sun. (6) Early blossoming, then drop: don’t plant too early, early blossoms will not set fruit. (7) Variety planted is not adapted to your region: get regional suggestions from a garden center or the cooperative extension. Avoid planting Blue Lake, Kentucky Wonder and pole lima beans which are especially susceptible to blossom pod drop. Plant quick-maturing varieties.

Early flowers don’t set fruit. Several possible reasons: (1) Soil is not fertile; added aged-compost to planting bed and turn it under to about 6 inches. (2) Soil is heavy in nitrogen; nitrogen results in foliage growth, not fruit growth. Add aged-compost to the planting bed–compost is equivalent to adding a complete, even fertilizer such as 10-10-10. (3) Pods have not been harvested regularly. Mature pods left on the vine will reduce new pod developments.

Buds and flowers drop; maturing beans pitted and blemished. Lygus bugs are green, straw yellow, or brain with a green triangle on the back. They have piercing-sucking mouthparts and feed on leaves and pods. Keep garden free of weeds where they live. Hand pick and destroy. A few can be tolerated.

Pods begin to develop then shrivel. A couple of possible reasons: (1) Lack of moisture. If the first seeds begin to develop in the pod and then the pods shrivels, give beans a slow, deep watering until the soil is wet to at least 5 inches (check with a trowel). Mulch planting beds to maintain even soil moisture. Water again when the soil is dry to 4 inches. (2) Tarnished plant bugs and nymphs may be feeding on the plant. Tarnished plant bug has a brown body mottled with bronze, yellow, or reddish market and a triangle on the back; nymphs are yellowish green and wingless; both are about ¼ inch long. Keep the garden clean. Exclude bugs with floating row covers. Spray with insecticidal soap.

Pods are streaked or spotted reddish or pale brown; pods may become leathery. Sunscald is the result of over exposure to the sun. Don’t snip or prune away leaves above pods.

Tiny white grubs inside seeds within pods; circular exit holes in pods. Bean weevil is ⅛ inch long, light brown and mottled; its larvae is a tiny white grub. Grubs feed inside pod then adult weevils form and emerge. Remove and destroy bean plants immediately after harvest. Be sure seeds are free of weevils before planting.

• Holes in pods; seeds are hollowed or eaten. Lcyaenid pod borers or corn earworms. Both are grub-like caterpillars that turn into tiny butterflies. Control with Bacillus thuringiensis. Bag and destroy infested pods. Encourage natural enemies such as Trichogramma wasps.

More tips: How to Grow Beans.


Comments are closed.
    • Stem and leaf growth at the expense of fruit (beans) may be a sign to too much nitrogen in the soil. Look for a vegetable fertilizer that is high in phosphorus and potassium which will support roots and fruit.

    • There are a few pests that will leave holes in bean leaves–bean leaf bettles, cucumber beetles, and flea beetles are common culprits. Handpicking the larger beetles is quick if the infestation is not great. Row covers will exclude flea beetles. Sticky traps can work. Garlic spray will deter many beetles. Chemical controls include spinodad and pyrethrin spray–for serious infestations and last resort.

        • You can make garlic spray: try this, a couple of hot peppers, a couple of medium cloves of garlic, a small onion, 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid, 3 cups of water; blend the peppers, garlic and onion in the blender then pour the blend into a jar and add the dish soap and water; let stand for 24 hours then strain away the pulp; put this tonic into a handheld sprayer and coat the tops and undersides of all of the bug infested leaves.

          • this comment is for Steve Albert . I might have been a bit premature as my scarlet runners have come right with just a spray of copper ( chem name im not surebut thanks any how I do appreciate your comments ,it may have something to do with the temp cheers Bill

    • If you see no sign of pests or disease then I would check the soil temperature. Bean seedlings that germinate in cool soil often have a difficult start. If the soil temperature is below 60F, then add compost to the soil, prewarm the planting bed with black plastic and re-plant the seed in raised soil ridges in a mounded or raised bed.

  1. Why are my bush (Fordhook #2 i think) butterbeans sprouting runners? They look like they want something to climb on – plants are about 1 ft tall, been planted for almost 6 weeks now.

    • Some bush beans do have tendrils; you can put a small tomato cage around each plant if you like. But they will do just fine without something to climb on.

  2. Pole bean problems – The comments state to avoid Blue Lake and Kentucky Wonder pole beans. I live in Mesquite, Nevada and have problems with buds and flowers dropping. What variety do you suggest?

    • Visit a local garden center and ask for a bean variety that is popular in your area. Ask for a heat resistant variety. Bub and flower drop can be caused by nights or days that are too cold–so don’t rush the season. Flowers that are not pollinated will also drop, so if you don’t see bees or insects at work in the garden, add some bee-attracting flowers.

    • Greetings from nearby Las Vegas. I have done VERY well with Blue Lake pole beans. This year I’m experimenting with also growing KY Wonder pole beans as they are also supposed to work well here. I generally sow my seeds throughout the month of August so the plants will be ready to flower in late September when the daytime temps begin to fall below 90 degrees. Generally, my first beans are ready for harvest toward the end of the first week of October and my peak crop comes in late in October. I live at 3000 feet on the outskirts of the valley. The temps in Mesquite are nearly 10 degrees warmer than those in my zip code so you may have to push your sowing timing yet a bit later. Timed properly (sown late enough to avoid the worst of the heat), you should do well with Blue Lake. Hopefully this fall I’ll discover the same goes for KY Wonder. Good luck!

    • Roots supply the plant with nutrients and water. If the break is severe, you are likely to lose the plant. Beans are ease and quick to start from seed. Plant additional seeds as a backup.

        • Seed emergence is determined by the fluctuation of temperature, soil moisture, and the strength of soil crust among other things. There is no one scientific study that answers your question. Some speculate that seedlings emerge at night so as to protect themselves from the drying warmth of the sun; a few hours above ground before sunlight comes allows plant cells to acclimatize and strengthen.

    • My Italian Green Bean Plant started out great grew nicely produced a few pickable ones but there are a Bunch of small ones that have stopped growing bigger & plant dropping a few yellow leaves.

      • The plant is stressed. Make sure it is not over or underwater and avoid high nitrogen fertilizers; either of these can the leaves to yellow and drop. If days are hotter than 85F; the plant is heat stressed and will recover when the temperatures abate

        • First time gardener here. My question is do I need to start over? I’m growing Bush beans in my little deck garden bed. Everything was going well until it rained really hard one day and now my plants which were once standing nice and high, are now drooped over. It almost looks as if this was supposed to happen, but I’m not quite sure. They were planted on/around May 4th. Flowers are blooming but still no beans.

          • If the plants remain healthy and the flowers are intact, you do not need to replant them. The plants may spring back in time. If rain comes regularly, protect the plants by placing an open-side plastic tunnel over them or a cover above them to keep the rain from beating them down. Also make sure the container is well-drained, that water is not collecting around the roots.

  3. I’ve found a few yellow beans on the same plant. They almost look like they have burgundy spots running down the seam. Pictures, beans are from the same plant, I don’t see any similar on any other plants. Plant: Beans:
    I can only find information on yellowing leaves, not the pod itself. Thank you!!

    • The burgundy spots on the yellow bean pods could be Anthracnose or rust. Both are fungal diseases. Remove infected pods from plants and dispose of them. Make sure there is plenty of air circulation around the plants and avoid overhead irrigation. Fungi can overwinter in the garden, so make sure you dispose of all plant debris. Choose disease resistant varieties the next time you plant,

    • Dark streaks on bean leaves and pods can be caused by Anthracnose–a fungal disease. To halt spread of the disease, uproot plants and compost them. Keep the garden clean and plant disease resistant varieties next time. Water-soaked spots on pods could be the result of stink bug feeding. Handpick stink bugs and drown them in soapy water; check the undersides of leaves for egg clusters and squash them. You will not want to eat infected pods.

  4. I’ve planted Blue Lake bush beans, and all my pods are yellow/white. I’m not sure if they just aren’t mature (although they’re very long with large beans inside). Or could it be from not enough sunlight? I planted marigolds between my rows that have grown taller than the bean plants. Will my beans turn green if I cut the marigolds down to allow in more sunlight?

    • I would suspect insufficient or no pollination. When flowers form, give the plants a gentle shake–most bean varieties are self-pollinating. Attracting bees to the garden may help as backup pollinators. If you don’t think pollination is an issue, make sure the soil is staying evenly moist to ensure even pod development.

    • Be sure the soil is staying evenly moist; don’t allow the soil to dry out while fruit (pods) are forming. Beans can have a difficult time setting fruit when the temperature is more than 90F and there is moisture stress. If you suspect insects, use a hand lens to check around the base of the plant for tarnished plant bugs and nymphs. Pods that have already formed may be misshapen if tarnished plant bugs are at work. If bugs are at work, you’ll need to do a garden cleanup to rid of them and you can use a garlic spray to deter them.

  5. Hello 🙂
    I’m writing you form Denmark, as I couldn’t find information on the trouble I’m having on danish “ground”.
    My beans (Merveille de Piemonte, Phaseolus coccineus, Borlotto and Blue Lake), that are now between 20-40 cm high, has gotten a darkgrey spotted coloration on the cotyledon (the ones that looks like beans). The rest of the plant are healthy. Is this normal? Or is it a fungus? (It does not seem to be ON the surface, but rather just under the skin, although).

    • Spotted coloration beneath the surface of a leaf or stem may be a reaction to chill; if your plants are outdoors and the weather is chilly cover them and keep them warm –optimal is 70F/21C. If the problem is temperature you should see a quick reversal. Now for the bad news–if the your beans do not respond to warming temperatures, the problem may be a fungal or bacterial infection. Anthracnose is a fungal infections–infected beans will have round, gray or black sunken spots usually on stems; for this, use a sulfur or copper based fungicide for 7 to 10 days. Bacterial blight can leave gray/black/brown blotches on leaves; this blight can not be removed and you should remove and destroy infected plants. Try planting resistant bean vrieties sucy as Charlevoix or Tendergreen.

  6. my “little greasy” pole beans have healthy looking vines and leaves (vines are 4 feet high) but no blossoms yet. I save my seed from year to year, and have never had a situation like this, and have been growing these beans now for over 20 years.

    • Your soil might be too nitrogen rich–which would result in green growth and little flower and fruit production. Sprinkle bone meal around the base of your plants and water it in. Bone meal is rich in phosphorus which supports flower and fruit production.
      Secondly, if your day or night time temperatures are much below 65F, flowering will be delayed.

  7. Thank you for the above information on bean problems. very informative. My bush beans were growing healthy for the first month or so so it appeared. Once they began flowering i first notice the lower leaves turning yellow. There were tons of flowrers. i removed the yellow leaves and continued on. The beans began to come and also at this time the highs were reaching high 80s to 90s. I began to notice the plants getting weak, some tipping over or actually some bent over on themselves like the stem got weak.I pulled up the weaker plants and noticed the ends of the root stem was severed and then roots growing above this. This was just some, not all that I pulled up i Ii seemed like i may have seen red streaking at below ground portion

    • Bean plant leaves turned yellow, stems grew weak and then collapsed, roots were severed: Could there have been mechanical damage to the plant roots–might the roots have been severed by a shovel or are there signs of a gopher or mole at work in the garden? If nearby plants have not had the same fate, then I would look to mechanical damage of one kind or another.

      If you can quickly rule out mechanical damage and you can confirm the red streaking from the roots to the lower stem, then you should suspect Fusarium root rot, a soil-borne fungus, that can leave roots reddish brown. Fusarium spores can be carried by the striped cucumber beetle and can live in the soil for 10 years or longer. It is common in many regions. It is best to remove and destroy the plants–there is no effective fungicide. You can solarize the soil, but you should avoid planting beans in that spot for several years. Future efforts to protect plants: plant resistant varieties; do not work with plants when they are wet; cover young plants with horticultural cloth or fleece to protect them from the cucumber beetle.

      • Leaves turn yellow and then brown from the bottom up; plant loses vigor; plants appear stunted; roots appear to have knots or beads. …….this describes what is going on with the beans most closely. I also am concerned about them being too crowded. I planted 9 plants per square foot. I think on my next planting o will do

        • One or two bean plants per square foot is plenty. This will allow for plenty of sunlight to reach the leaves and growing bean pods. Yellowing leaves and knots or beads on the roots could be caused by root-knot nematodes. If nematodes are at work, the crop probably won’t produce a harvest. To be rid of nematodes you can solarize the soil with clear plastic sheeting during hottest part of the summer. Also look for varieties that are resistant to nematode attack.

    • Any fertilizer–whether organic or synthetic–if applied correctly should improve the growth and yield of your mung beans. To promote the long-term sustainability of your planting beds, the best choice is an organic fertilizer. Add aged-compost to your planting beds twice a year to improve the soil and plant yield.

      • Our Blue Lake Green Beans taste different this year. Can this be caused by exsessive water? (double the normal for June)

        • Yes, excessive water can affect the flavor of beans. The plant and fruit will take up more water when the ground is soaked; this can leave beans a bit bloated and dull tasting. Growing beans in a raised or mounded bed will help drainage. When it looks like days and days of rain you can also put plastic sheeting around the stems of your plants to allow the water to run off and soak directly down to the roots.

  8. I am trying to grow my bush beans under black plastic mulch. My fertility should be fine, all my other crops are doing well. My beans main stems are very brittle. The plants have flowered and have a good # of beans, but when I pick, as gently as I can, many times the whole stem comes with the beans. The stems are breaking off pretty much at the soil level. Haven’t seen any pests. Any ideas? Thanks

    • Use a garden scissors or pruner to cut the beans away from the vines–this should decrease breakage. As well, give your plants a sidedressing of phosphorus and potassium or add aged compost to the planting bed. You can also look for a fertilizer rich in calcium or breakup egg shells and soak them in water to make a calcium-rich tea to water the plants–all of these will increase cell wall strength. Look closely at the stems of your plants to see if any insects–such as snails or slugs are eating and weakening them.

    • Two possible problems could be affecting your lima beans: (1) high temperatures; make sure the soil stays evenly moist; do not let it dry out when pods are forming; (2) tarnished plant bugs and nymphs on the plants–it takes a hand lens to see these insects. Tarnished plant bugs feed on a variety of plants including lima beans; their saliva contains and enzyme that breaks down plant tissue. Try a garlic spray to kill these pests or an insecticidal soap–you can also cover your crops with floating rows covers to exclude these bugs.

  9. Hi Steve, new comer to growing vegetables, i can grow flowers with no problem and I keep up with them and they look great. The problem I’m having is with my green beans, i planted the pole beans from seedlings and the vines have grown to at least 18″ i have something for them to grab onto but they are not sprouting any flowers to produce the bean itself and half of the vines have died off and the other half is nice and green, water is sufficient, not too much or too little and I’m not sure what to do, pull them and start over or just be patient?

    • Beans that fail to flower (and, of course, this means no crop) are commonly stressed: the temperature is too cold (below 65F) or too hot (greater than 85F), or there is too much or too little water. Make sure your planting beds are rich in compost which is both well draining and water retentive. Keep the soil evenly moist for flowers and fruiting. If your vines are are dying the temperature may not be right or your planting bed may have a soilborne disease. If you start over, move your crop to a different location. Avoid fertilizers with too much nitrogen. Make sure you start when you have 60 to 90 frost-free days ahead and that the temperature does not climb above 85F.

    • It’s best to error on the side of caution and not eat fruits from diseased plants. Fungal spores may have already settled on the fruit or plant leaves but signs of disease have not yet appeared. If you decide you do want to eat the beans, wash the beans with soap and water or treat them with a 10 percent bleach solutions (1 part bleach to 9 parts water), cut out any diseased, rotted, or spotted areas and then cook.

  10. last 2-yrs my pole beans have serious black spot disease (or maybe rust?). Is this a soil borne disease? What causes this? Could it be infected seeds? I have planted in same location both years and have used same seeds also.

    • Bean rust is notable for the orange-red bumps or blisters that appear on the undersides of leaves and sometimes on pods. Try spraying the plants with a baking soda solution: 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 2.5 tablespoons of vegetable oil, and a teaspoon of liquid soap (not detergent) to a gallon of water. Rust is a fungal disease, as is blackspot. It’s best to pick off infected leaves before you treat the plant with the above spray. Don’t overhead irrigate your plants and avoid getting the leaves and pods wet. Fungi can overwinter in the garden, so it is important to clean the garden after harvest. You may want to rotate your bean crop to another location for the next couple of years. Some varieties of beans are more susceptible to fungal infections that others; try another variety next season.

  11. My beans are healthy. Color and bush. No health problem’s. Blooms are many and bean pods look great. They start to fill out and stop. They wont mature. Butter beans are the worst but peas sometimes don’t either. Snap beans and red beans I get bumper crops.

    • Lima beans (butter beans) and other types of beans whose bean pods stop forming may be suffering from days that are too hot, greater than 85F. Check your soil moisture and keep the soil evenly moist and wait for the weather to cool. Too much nitrogen in the soil can also slow bean pod formation–choose a fertilizer that has half the nitrogen content as phosphorus and potassium, such as 5-10-10. Tarnished plant bugs feeding may be another reason–but if other beans nearby are doing well–this may not be the cause of bean pods failing to form. To check for tarnished plant bugs use a hand lens to check plants for bugs and nymphs; insecticidal soap can be used to control these bugs–spraying under and on top of leaves. Overhead irrigation or rain during flowering could result in incomplete or failed pollination which could cause flowers to fall off or beans to not fully fill out or to fall off–but, again, if nearby beans are doing well, this may not be the cause.

      Butter beans have a long growing period and do not like excessive high temps. That is probably what is causing your problems. To help your beans keep the soil evenly moist during flowering and pod formation. Rain or overhead irrigation during flowering can cause flowers and small pods to fall off. Once the soil temperature averages greater than 60°F, mulch to conserve moisture.

    • Bean plants with leaves that are turning yellow yet the veins remain dark green (called interveinal chlorosis) may need some additional magnesium and manganese. Magnesium (Mg)–an important secondary plant nutrient–is necessary for formation of sugars, proteins, oils, and fats, regulates the uptake of other nutrients (especially phosphorus), is a component of chlorophyll, and is a phosphorus carrier. When magnesium is lacking older leaves can become mottled and yellow while the veins remain green.

      Manganese (Mn) is an element that increases the availability of soil magnesium to plants; if it is lacking the synthesis of green chlorophyll and photosynthesis can be slowed or halted. Manganese deficiency usually occurs between pH 6.5 and 8.0, especially where soil has been heavily limed. Excessive water, poor aeration, and excess heavy metals influence Mn uptake. Low Manganese causes yellow to white colored leaves, but with green veins–especially noted on new leaf growth.

      Look for a fertilizer that includes Magnesium (Mg) and Manganese (Mn).

  12. I left the last couple pods on my green bean plants go to make new seeds. One of the pods produced seeds 4 times larger than any of the others. Will these large seeds be ok for new plants next year?

    • I suspect that the large seeds will be viable. If you’d like to check before next planting season, soak one of the large seeds overnight then plant it in small pot and see if it germinates–and you should be able to grow it on, at least for a while, indoors. The true test will come when you plant next spring or summer. Be sure to keep track of those plants and track their growth and yield.

    • Beans that are tough and low on flavor may simply have been left on the vine too long. Harvest beans when the pods just begin to bulge–the beans inside will be tender and flavorful. If you allow the beans to mature and the pods to bulge to nearly popping open, those beans should be allowed to dry and used as dry beans–not green beans. As beans flower and pods begin to set, make sure the soil stays just moist. Don’t let it go completely dry. During the season add aged compost around the base of your plants to keep them well nourished.

  13. Hi I’m new to gardening. But I have 5 bush bean plants all are very small (less than 12 inches tall) but have a lot of beans growing on them and they are turning yellow…

    • Are the beans turning yellow or the plants? First make sure the variety you are growing is a green bean, not a yellow bean. If your bean is a green bean and the pods are yellowing then yellowing can be caused by lack of soil moisture–or too much soil moisture. Keep the soil evenly moist, don’t overwater, don’t let the soil dry out. If the plants are turning yellow, you can add a 5-10-10 organic fertilizer around the plants–this will ensure they have proper nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

      • my yellow -green- bush beans are very skinny about 4 6 inches tall should I fertalise or wait to see if grow bigger

        • Your beans will likely fill out, but if you want to give them a boost feed them a light dose of compost tea or a half dose of fish emulsion mixed in water. Keep the fertilizer light until the roots have a chance to mature. Also keep the soil just moist, do not let it dry out.

  14. Hi. I just planted my first vegetable garden and planted two varieties of bush beans Sunday, a week ago. They’re just sprouting which is the good news. But in my raised bed near the edge, there were at least 5 sprouts that had been cleanly ‘cut’. I just filled the raised bed with organic potting soil and organic compost from a local supplier. The only common pest which seems to fit is the cut worm. Could these be resident in the soil or compost already? Because the shoots were just laying there, not eaten by any pest, I didn’t suspect an insect pest… But perhaps so if cut worms or similar pests were ‘imported’ in the delivery of soil and compost I spread just last week..

    • Cutworms will sheer off seedlings, but so also will beetles and earwigs. You can sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the seedlings as a barrier. This slica product will stop most crawling pest insects in their tracks. You can also put a cardboard collar around the seedlings or set a open at both ends plastic bottle around the seedlings to exclude pests.

    • Was there a change in temperature? Beans will stop flowering if the temperature goes to high above 90F or too low–into the mid 50s. If that is the case, wait for the weather to warm. Did the plant get a jolt of nitrogen? Fertilizing with too much nitrogen can cause plants to stop flowering and trigger green growth. Use a fertilizer rich in phosphorus and potassium, not nitrogen; try an organic 5-10-10 fertilizer.

    • All leaves and no flowers likely indicates that soil is too rich in nitrogen. Sprinkle bonemeal around the base of the plants and work it in gently to increase phosphorus in the soil.

  15. my seeds fail to emerge…they rotted in the grown…… much rain matted the soil and made a crust on the top of soil…so they rotted ..its been over 2weeks now and it rained for 2weeks

    • Too much rain can cause the soil to cake making it difficult for seeds to emerge. If rain is in the forecast after you sow seeds, protect the planting beds by placing a series of hoops over the planting bed then spread a row cover on top. This will keep the rain from beating down on the soil and give your seeds time to germinate and plants to emerge and grow strong.

  16. Anyone know what causes green bean leaves to become deformed with the leaf tip inverted?

    At about day 3 after sprouting my bean plants were about 3 inches by 3 inches in size. The leaves looked great and they were growing very fast. On day 4 they were about 4 inches by 4 inches, but the leaf tips stopped growing, but the leaves continued to grow, so the tips became inverted. On day 5 all of the inverted leaves stopped growing, but the normal leaves continue to grow. This keeps happening to all my bean plants and I don’t know why. It completely stunts the growth of the leaves and the plant as a whole.

    Anyone have any idea what causes this? I’d really appreciate some suggestions.

    • Fungal and viral diseases can cause bean plants to stop growing and plants to become stunted. If plants are wholly stunted a crop may still be produced. If the plants begin to yellow and wither it is best to remove the infected plants. Often water uptake problems can lead to fungal and viral diseases getting a foothold in the garden. Add lots of aged compost to planting beds to insure proper water and nutrient uptake. Look for varieties that are disease resistant next season.

    • Set a trellis or lattice horizontally in your garden and raise it up above the soil with wooden stakes or blocks. Train your vines across the raised trellis so that the leaves and fruit do not sit on the ground. Keep the garden free of debris or plant waste that may harbor slugs and snails and other crawling pests.

  17. your web page is great but I need to know why my plants that are beautiful and are not blooming any help would be great , Thank You

    • Beans will not flower or set pods when temperatures are greater than 90F. Too much nitrogen can cause beans not to produce. Be sure to keep the soil evenly moist so that the plant is not stressed (too much or too little water can inhibit blooming and pod set).

    • How hot is it where you garden? Beans slow down and may even stop flowering and producing fruit when temps climb above 90F. When the temperatures moderate the plants will be back to normal. Continue to keep the soil evenly moist; do not let it dry out. You can mist around the plants in the morning to keep the temps down a bit. Also be careful not to use a fertilizer strong in nitrogen–this can inhibit pod growth.

      • does light availability affect the growth of bean sprouts that are grown in cotton?
        does growing them in the sun rather than in the dark only affect their colouring or does it affect their growth as well? (curious in regards to the influence of environmental conditions on gene expression of the sprouts)

        • Beans do not need sunlight to germinate, but they do need warmth–60F or greater. After germination, the young plants do require sunlight to grow–8 to 10 hours per day for best yield.
          I do not know of research in regards to light and gene expression.

  18. This is my first year with broad beans. Most of my plants are healthy looking but some have wilted and gone very pale and look dead, ive watered all the same, there are no bugs or anything described on help sites, they are producing beans but are they ok to eat ? Whats up with my plants ?

    • The beans are most likely good to eat, unless you suspect that some of the plants might have come in contact with a chemical–a spray or fertilizer or something drifting through the air. Soil composition in different parts of the garden and even in one row can vary; perhaps the soil around the plants that are failing is not holding moisture. Spread aged compost or a planting mix around each plant to add nutrients and to retain soil moisture. A hot spell and blazing sun could also account for the leaves turning pale–that would be sunburn.

  19. do you have any suggestion on how to keep the horticultural bean plants from touching the wet ground to keep the pods from molding?

    • To keep beans from touching the ground try spreading straw around your plants or set spun-poly weedblock around the plants. You can also train beans on a trellis or stake or tripod.

    • Holes in bean pods can be caused by corn earworms, European corn earworms, curculios, and stink bugs. Earworms will bore into the pods. Look for larvae on the undersides of leaves and place insect traps in the garden to trap the adult moths.

    • Yes; mice, rats, voles, raccoons, rabbits–many critters would find young beans very tasty. Try draping a close-knit bird block over your plants to stop or slow the critters from getting to the beans. When temperatures are warm and there is little rain, many animals enjoy the flavor and refreshment of young vegetables.

    • Assuming the bean leaves have not simply dried out from lack of moisture or have not been burned by too much nitrogen in the soil or intense sun, then the browning is probably related to either a fungal or bacterial disease. Make every effort to keep leaves dry (water at the base of the plant)–this will discourage both fungal and bacterial diseases. Bacterial diseases can enter plants through the soil; if the plant dies, remove it and replant in another location.

  20. Steve Albert you are awesome! This is a wonderful reference. I have a bean that has sprouted but is not standing up straight yet – the leaves are coming out and the little plant looks green and healthy – is anything wrong? The actual bean where the leaves grow out of is on the soil it looks too heavy for her to hold up

    • If the bean seed is exposed you may want to gently mound some soil up around the seed until the roots grow deep and support the plant. Do not, however, cover the seedling stalk as the soil will rot the tissue. If the plant is now 4 to 6 inches tall and still drooping, you can place a thick drinking straw or a very thin plant stake next to the stalk and gently tie a ribbon or plant tape around the plant and stake to give the plant support. Too much nitrogen in the soil or in a fertilizer can cause quick growth before the plant cells mature and are able to keep the stem upright.

  21. I planted my seeds a month ago and they’re growing like gangbusters but in the last few days my leaves have begun flipping (turning upside down)! Any Suggestions?

    • If the leaves of your bean plants remain green and healthy, don’t worry about the leaves flipping over; they will likely right themselves in time. If the leaves show any sign of stress–wilting, burn, or browning, then you will need to do some detective work: plant stress can cause leaves to invert: common stresses would include too much or too little water, too much nitrogen, hot dry wind, hot temperatures greater than 85F, cool temperature–less than 65F, herbicide drift. Keep the soil evenly moist and feed the plants compost tea or a dilute fish emulsion mix.

      • Funny. Right before your reply, my leaves had all returned to normal. I’m in south Florida so it gets extremely hot here (our growing season is typically Sept-April. I’m looking for container plants I grow during the summer. It had been windy and dry so I’m guessing that was the stressor. Typically they get 15 minutes of water every other day so I’ll watch the water. I also added some organic 2-2-2 fertilizer on 6/1.

  22. Hi, Beans seedlings: upon germination – cotyledons look almost woody, and are deformed and dark brown. Terminal shoot either rotted off or bitten off…break doesn’t look clean, suspect rotting. Stems yellowed. On some, new true leaves are forming at base of the tortured looking cotyledons. Weather has been all over the map in our area of the Northeast this spring. Since planting, we had 90 degrees for a few days, followed by rain and chill weather. Could cause of this be entirely weather related? We had onion maggots on our onions earlier, but I don’t see signs of the stems rotting on the beans. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks so much for the informative blog!!

    • A bit of detective work may be needed to solve this problem: (1) Did the seed coats fully detach from the new seedlings. This condition is called “helmet head” and it can happen when germinating seedlings become to dry or when seed is old. If the seed coat remains attached too long, the terminal shoot will either dry or start to rot. If the seed coat is not removed, it will strangle and kill the seedling. When the seed coat does not detach from the seedling, spray the seed coat with a bit of water each day to soften the coat until it drops. If the coat refuses to drop, you can try to carefully remove it with your fingernails or tweezer. (2) Were night or day time temperatures cool or has the weather been very hot? It seems the answer is yes to both? Protect tender seedlings with floating row covers or with plastic tunnels or cloches until they gain strength–in a couple of weeks. Remove plastic tunnels when the weather is greater than 70F, but protect seedlings from temps in the low 60sF or lower. (3) Is the soil nitrogen rich? Do not use nitrogen-rich fertilizers on seedlings or young plants.

  23. I have a problem with yellow spotted cucumber beetles on my green bean plants – I made the mistake of spraying an organic insecticide during the day and burned some leaves (I was just so angry with the bugs – I should have known better)- I pulled those dead leaves – been killing the bugs by hand – I am not sure if my plants are infected with any bacterial wilt – a few leaves have been turning brown around the edges and curling up and dying – most of the stems look healthy – a few areas I see brown streaks – My beans that are emerging look okay – no spots or streaks – I have been picking the dead and unhealthy looking leaves. I also have a lot of new leaf growth which look green and healthy – I really want to try and save my plants! Are the beans safe to eat if no sign of disease are on the beans themselves?

    • The beans will be safe to eat as long as the brown streaks do not continue to spread up the plant and as long as the pods do not take on a dark, water-soaked look. The streaks you see may be the start of a fungal (anthracnose) or bacterial disease–these diseases will continue to spread up the stems and then to the leaves and pods. But as long as the pods remain green and clean they are edible. Because you have new, healthy growth, it is likely that the leaves were burnt as a result of spraying midday. Brown and curling edged leaves can also be a sign of potato leafhoppers or aphids–if you see signs of insect pests, spray the plants with insecticidal soap.

  24. Hi Steve, HELP, my beans are all dead. The leaves turned white and eventually died. The leaves on my zucchini have the white on them and my cucumbers and eggplant. What is it, what caused it. Are the veggies ok to eat?

    • Powdery mildew is a fungal disease which can turn leaf surfaces white–and can kill the plant. If the white surface is dusky and powdery, spray the leaves with a fungicide, neem oil, or compost tea. (This only saves the plant if you treat the leaves at the first sign of the mildew.) If the leaves have turned bleached white and have dried, then the plants may have been sunburned–this would happen if the weather has been dry and hot; to protect plants place a shadecloth over the crops to shield them from midday sun. The fruits can be harvested and eaten–but don’t let the fruits linger on the plant; harvest them young and tender.

  25. My pole string beans are being eaten by something, not the leaves the beans themselves. The beans that are being eaten are over six feet off the ground. Not all of them just a few mostly the ones on the outside of the plants. Could it be birds? I’ve never had this problem before.

    • If you suspect birds are eating your beans. place bird netting over the plants. Once the netting is in place keep an eye on pods that haven’t been eaten to see if they stay that way. (Bird netting will also deter other critters such as raccoons and squirrels–but probably not mice.) You can also check under leaves to see if beetles might be on the vine. Some beetles will attack bean pods; they can chew or suck juices from the pods. If you suspect beetles or other insects spray the plants with Bt; this should stop any insect infestation within a few days

    • If all of the leaves were stripped from the bean plant by the wind, it is likely you will need to replant. Young plants depend upon their leaves for photosynthesis and the production of nutrients for growth. If you replant, protect the seedlings from the wind by placing an open-bottomed milk jug around each plant–or any container that is open bottomed.

  26. My Beans, Borlotti and Broad have shown signs on the leaves that looks like they are melting, in that they are going dark green and shiny, only at the edges.( if that makes any sense to you). Not on all the leafs, i may add. Other than that they look healthy. I noticed this after a 24hour storm, high winds and lots of rain, after a month of drought.

    • A sudden uptake of water following a rainstorm after the soil has been dry for several days can cause cells in leaves to become water soaked filling like a water balloon; this will likely damage the cells and can cause the cells to die–this could leave the edges of leaves yellow or brown. High winds can suck moisture out of plant cells–this also could cause leaves to turn yellow, white, or/and transparent. To moderate damage from drought and excess rainfall, make sure the planting beds have lots of added aged compost or planting mix; this will help the soil to be both well drained and moisture retentive–both are good things. Beans will not do well when exposed to high winds; the leaf tissue is very thin and wind can suck moisture right out of plant cells. If possible, find a way to shield the garden from high winds.

  27. My beans and peas look like someone cut the stem diagonally about 2 feet from the ground. Not sure a bunny could reach this …. Why they would or if this is typical?

  28. My runner beans are about 7-8 ft tall and have reached the top of the trellis. Can I top them (prune them at 7 ft) and expect them to produce beans, or will they just stop growing and producing?

  29. I have black bumpy spots on my fava bean pods. It looks like they start out as bumps and then turn dark brown/black. Do you know what this is and what I should do with them?

    • The black bumpy spots on fava bean pods is most likely a fungal disease called Chocolate Spot (Botrytisfabae). This disease usually appears in wet weather or where plants have been watered overhead leaving pods and leaves wet late in the day. If the pods are near harvest the disease likely will not have affected the seeds inside. Left uncontrolled fungal diseases will inhibit plant growth or kill the plant.

    • If the seeds are white, it may simply be the variety you are growing–and many bean seeds are white if allowed to dry in the pod. It the interior of the pod is white, it may be an indication of a fungal disease or mold.

    • The answer depends in part on how old your bean plants are. Here are a few possible reasons beans turn yellow: (1) lack of moisture in the soil; keep the soil just moist; (2) too much or too little nitrogen in the soil; use an organic slow-release fertilizer such as 5-5-5; (3) the nights are too cold–below 55F; the days are too hot; greater than 90F; (4) disease or pest attack.

  30. My bush beans are about 6-8 inches tall now with their first set of leaves and the second set starting to come out. When I put the plants in full sun for just a short period the leaves stand straight, but the moment I move them to the shade they lay back down. My plants have been sprouted about 3 weeks and should be hardened off to the sun by now. Help!!

    • At three weeks old and each successive day the beans will grow stronger. Keep them in full sun. In short order, the stems will grow strong and they will continue to grow up to maturity and spread out as well. Keep the soil evenly moist. At 4 to 5 weeks, give them a dose of compost tea or dilute fish emulsion.

  31. Planted bush lake 247 beans germination went well and transplant went well now leaves are getting pale. (Not as dark green as they were when planted) they have been in the raised bed for 4 or 5 weeks. They have stopped growing. No visible signs of pests and surrounded by deer netting. Are these plants garbage or can they be saved and how? Any help is appreciated

    • The roots of your beans plants may have been damaged during transplanting; this may account for the pale color of the foliage. Transplant shock and being set out into the bright sunlight may also account for plant stress. Don’t give up on these plants, but you can also set out new transplants or sow seed now. Planting beans every two weeks is a good way to ensure a continuous harvest.

  32. My hush beans are growing tall, flowering and beans are growing. Leaves are turning yellow and brown on the edges. Some are yelow with bright green veins and plants look spindly. Magnesium problem?

    • Abnormal yellowing of leaves is called chlorosis (leaves lack the green pigment chlorophyll). Possible causes include poor drainage, damaged roots, compacted roots, high soil pH, and nutrient deficiencies in the plant. The most common nutrient problem associated with chlorosis is a lack of iron, but other nutrients may be deficient usually manganese, zinc, or nitrogen. Iron deficiency usually shows up first on young terminal leaves, later older leaves yellow. Deficiencies in manganese, zinc or nitrogen develop on inner or older leaves first and then progress outward. Check first for soil compaction, poor drainage, poor root growth, or root injury. If you can rule those out, check next for nutrient deficiencies. Get a soil test to determine soil pH and nutrient levels. Iron becomes more insoluble and less available to plants as soil pH goes above 6.5 to 6.7 [7.0-neutral; below 7.0-acidic; above 7.0-alkaline]. A shortage of potassium in the plant will also reduce iron availability. A professional soil test can answer these questions and is recommended if leaf yellowing is a persistent problem year to year. If a soil test is not feasible, do what old-time gardeners do, spray-mist the plant with compost tea. Compost tea contains all of the major and minor nutrients plants need.

  33. Hi, I am new to gardening. I moved into a rental house with a well established garden. I have I believe vine green beans yellow and green. They are sprouting hundreds of beans but they are only 2-3 inches long and bulging, I guess is how to describe it? I did not know to put them on stakes. Can I still do that? And do they need more water? There are so many, they are intertwined with everything else in the garden! Some are also pushing out of the ground with a large root, are these even green beans?! Help! 🙂

    • Many legumes produce pods. Not all are green beans. Take a few pods and leaves and flowers to the nearby cooperative extension, Master Gardener office, or farmers’ market and ask for help identifying the plants. These established plants are self-sowing at the end of each season; that is the reason you have hundreds of volunteers. It is not too late to stake or trellis the beans; you may lose a few as you disentangle them and introduce them to vertical supports.

  34. I have grown climbing French beans successfully in the UK for many years. Having moved to Spain this year I planted some seeds, they germinated and started to grow up the supports and produce beans. They are covered with netting to keep birds off. Something is eating through the stems so that the foliage above withers and dies. It happens at random heights – could it be rats or mice? I noticed yesterday one of my cucumbers had also been nibbled and then today it had been fully eaten.

    • The likely marauders are mice, rats, voles, raccoons, or birds. Make sure the netting is secured near the ground so that critters are not able to crawl under and up the stems. You can also try placing double netting over the crops; this may frustrate the pests. Mid-summer critters are looking for moisture to quench their thirst. Put a small container or water in the garden; this may distract the critters from your crop.

    • Besides lethal traps, there are garlic, pepper, and herb-oil-based commercial repellants that will keep mice and other rodents out of the garden.

  35. Beans are growing great but before matured or new grow of beans turn brown? Leaves are green just the beans instantly turn brown

    • Bean pods that turn brown while the leaves remain green may be an indication that the plants are either over or underwatered. Keep the soil just moist and side-dress around the plants with aged compost or commercial organic planting mix–both will help the soil to be well-drained and hold water for roots. If the pods are spotting brown–spots of brown here and there on the pods–that is likely an indication of a fungal disease such as anthracnose or ascochyta blight; these diseases usually affect leaves and stems as well. It would be best to remove the pods as soon as they turn brown and place them in the trash. Next season, plant beans in a different location; this will keep the new crop from being infected by a disease the remains in the soil over the winter.

    • Yes, promoting growth is the main reason to pinch off early flowers. Here are a few reasons to pinch flowers off vegetables: (1) early in the season, remove flowers so that the plant can put its energy into establishing roots (which are important for feeding the plant); (2) early in the season remove flowers if temperatures are cold or cool and temperature will abort the flower or hinder pollination; (3) late early in the season remove flowers if you are thinning the potential number of fruits–some plants may not be able to support all of the potential fruits flowers offer (think of thinning an apple tree); (4) late in the season, remove flowers if there is not enough season (warm weather) left for the plant to grow to maturity all of the fruit already set on the plant.

    • Well, theoretically there are true bush beans. Bush beans will grow to 1 or 2 feet tall and about as wide. ‘Bush Blue Lake 274’ and ‘Bush Kentucky Wonder’ should fit this description. Look for varieties that are described as ‘dwarf’ such as ‘Taylor Dwarf Horticultural’ and ‘Dwarf Velour French’.

  36. I planted green beans a few came up and after 2 week I decided to check and see what the other looked like I dug a few up they appeared to be mold covered or a green moss looking covers the bean..what caused this?? We haven’t had to much rain we live in south side va…I have no clue..

    • Modly bean seeds that have not germinated may have been planted too deep or the soil may have been too damp. Amend the planting beds with aged compost or commercial organic planting mix before planting; this will make the soil well-drained, yet hold just enough moisture for seeds. Water lightly until seeds germinate. Be sure you are planting where the seedbed gets 8 full hours of sun each day.

  37. I have lush green bean plant that is so rewarding to look at but unfortunately no flowers which mean no beans. How long will it grow till I start seeing beans. Its been growing for 2 months now

    • Beans that are leafy lush and are not flowering are probably growing in soil that has too much nitrogen. Side dress your plants with a phosphorus-rich fertilizer. Leafy growth can also occur when there is insufficient sunlight; plant beans where they get at least 8 hours of sun each day.

  38. Hi Steve, I have raised Bush Beans ( Lewis Colter, and other types of Bush or Snap Beans ) for about 7 years, they are 53 days to maturity , The problems i have is it takes them too long to mature, they grow and grow with a lot of flowers,the flowers set and have beans but the 53 day bean turns into a 90 to a100 day variety, Planted them on May 23d and will finally start picking them on august 28th, lots of beans but late to maturity, why, i can’t seem to figure it out. Can you please help me. As far as fertilizing them I give them some Phosphorus & Potassium at recommended rate, I give them no nitrogen for they get too tall as it is. do you have any suggestions? Note: We have a regular Fungicide And Insecticide program for we have about 2 acres of beans. The beans look nice and Healthy, the only problem is maturity and plants breaking off, my concern is not plants breaking of but Maturity. Plants breaking off comes from Plants getting too big And having them under a row Cover or on plastic mulch, I’ve seen it time and time again that if you have 2 fields of beans, one under a row cover And the other exposed, the one under the row cover will have the bean breaking off problem, i guess there no used to the harsh environment, they don’t toughen up, and there is no difference between the 2 fields as far as maturity is concerned. Have you got any advice?

    • The days to maturity listed on a seed packet or in a seed catalog are the number of days to maturity under optimal conditions. Check your seed packets for optimal growing temperature–both soil and air. Soil or air temperature too chilly at planting time, soil or air temperature too warm later in the season–both are less than optimal and will delay maturation. Related to temperature are other environmental factors such as cloud cover, rain, day length. It may take some detective work to figure out what is causing the delay. Keep a daily journal recording of soil and air temperature at planting time and then track the temperatures into and through the season–track day and night temperature lows and highs; as well, keep track of days of cloud cover. If rain is your only irrigation, you may want to track soil moisture levels as well. There is likely some form of environmental stress delaying maturation. There is a logically and trackable reason for the delay in maturation. You may also want to contact the seed grower and see if they have similar maturation delay reported by other growers in your region.

  39. Hi my mung beans sprouted and became so tall that it tilts over time also the winds pushes the long stems sideward causing it to tilt even more..

    • Tall plants can be staked or caged. You can place a tomato cage around your mung bean to give it support, to place a stake and loosely tie the plant to the stake. If there is a prevailing wind, you can attach shade cloth to a frame on the windward side of the plant and protect the plant from the wind.

  40. I planted Contender green beans for fall harvest. The bean plants get about 4-6″ tall then the leaves and plant wilt and die.
    They are not over or under watered. What is the problem?

    • Bean plants just 4 to 6 inches tall that wilt and die may have been attached by a soilborne fungal disease such as damping-off. One sign of damping-off is the appearance of a water-soaked or rotting lesion on the stem close to the soil line; damping-off can also attack below the soil causing roots to rot. Too much nitrogen in the soil can also cause seedlings to die. Day or night temperatures too chilly (below 55F) or too hot (greater than 90F) can also stress and cause young seedlings to die.

  41. This is my first year with bush beans and they germinated wonderfully, they grew to about 3 inches and I planted them outside, they continued to grow about another 2 inches and then they just stopped. They keep producing but their leaves turn yellow and just blow off with the slightest of wind, once the leave is gone the whole brach turns yellow and falls off as well but it still keeps growing new leaves and over the last mont they have grown about 2 inches in height so they are now close to 7 inches tall. I have tried fertilizer with nitrogen, I don’t see any mold or fungus. What should I do? Am I watering them too much?

    • Keep the soil just moist. Let the surface dry out between waterings. Pull back on nitrogen fertilizer. Too much nitrogen can burn roots, stems, and leaves. Don’t fertilizer again until the plant is 18 inches tall. If nights are chilly, place a floating row cover over the plants or erect a plastic tunnel to grow them on until night temperatures are 65F or warmer.

  42. 4 yrs ago had 4 types of pole beans growing nicely on willow “teepee” trellises. approximately 5 ft high plus.. all was well, and then the next morning, EVERY leaf and bean was gone, but vines were intact and not displaced (as a racoon might have done). Yard is fenced in with 8 ft hi fence, not deer…. tried again the next year… doing well, then same thing… have not planted x 2 yrs. Want to plant again this year… do not want another repeat stripping… ? any ideas? If insects, would have thought a few leaves would be missed, but not a one out of 40+plants… ?????

    • If you have ruled out deer and raccoons, the next likely suspects would be rodents. It is unlikely an insect would defoliate the plant overnight. Cover the plants with bird netting this year; this will dissuade rodents, deer, and raccoons. You could also use an animal repellant with capsicum or black pepper.

  43. My 9 year old transplanted our farily new bean plant (10 days old) into a better container. Unfortunately, while doing so, she wasn’t very careful and accidentally ripped 90% of that bean plants roots off. It’s now in a new pot because it is still too cold outside to plant and the old container wasn’t going to be adequate for that plant. It still has some roots, so I am hoping that the roots might grow back. Do you know if it’s going to make it or not?

    • Plants depend upon their roots to deliver nutrients and water. Plants often suffer transplant shock if roots are disturbed. The prognosis is not good, but plants are tough and want to survive so we will hope for the best. In the meantime, plant another seed and you will have another bean plant soon.

  44. my fava beans started getting black on leaves when only two inches tall then wilted and perished did i plant in too cold environment?

    • Fava beans grow best in temperatures between 60° to 65°F, but fava beans will grow in temperatures as low as 40°F and as warm as 75°F. If nights are cold, young plants will suffer. Wait a few weeks and replant again.

  45. Hello, i am trying hard to grow the beans but the problem i am facing is weird. The leaves have cracks in them not like they are eaten but cracks where it breaks and slowly turning yellowish. The new leaves are drying even before becoming big.

    • Keep the soil just moist; do not let it dry out. You can protect young seedlings from chilly nights by placing a row cover over the bed or placing a milk jug with the bottom cut out over each plant. The injury could be related to wind or cold–if you are sure birds or other varmints are not attacking the seedlings.

  46. Hello Steve. I’ve never seen your site until today. So much info! My problem: I planted Blue Lake Bush beans inside for the first time ever. Unfortunately, they are 6″ – 7″ tall & were doing fine until I over-watered them. They still have their multiple leaves on the top of each seedling but the next set of tiny leaves that were growing out further down the stem turned yellow & fell off. I have about 25 seedlings. Will they still produce beans are should I start over? I haven’t watered them in 2 days. Thank you.

    • It is very likely the fallen leaves will be replaced with new leave as long as the plants remain healthy. Look at the nodes where the leaves dropped for signs of new leaves. As soon as possible, get the seedling into the garden where they will get plenty of sunshine (hopefully the outside temps are warming where you are). When bush beans reach harvest they will be productive for 2-3 weeks then the plant will die. So if you want a continuous harvest this summer, make your second planting of bush beans about 3 weeks after the first–or as soon as the weather is warm in the garden. So you are not really starting over, you are just continuing the successive sowing process.

  47. Until how tall will french bean grow? I have a net about 6ft long and the plant already at the very top of the net, what should i do?

    • Once the bean plant is as tall as you want it to grow, you can nip off the tips of the new growth. This will control the plant’s height and allow the plant to put its energy into production of pods rather than more vine growth.

  48. Great site and lots of great information. I have Blue Lake Bush Beans… I did a direct sowing here in CT and they are now coming up nicely over the past week and a half/two weeks… Three days ago, I noticed one of the new sprouts that had just emerged and unfurled looked as thought its first produced leaf was missing with part of one cotyledon slightly chewed at the tip. Then the next day two others that had been up for about 3/4 days longer, looked to have chewed first leaves, but most of the leaf was intact. A few other new pop ups now also look like their new leaves has been completely chewed off. I can’t find any pests for the life of me… I’ve moved the soil, looked early evening and morning, looked under leaves. it must be some sort of pest, just not sure which. No other pest issues have shown up on any of my other plants thus far, in the other raised beds. There are a very few holes in some of the pea leaves in that same bed, but nothing like the entire leaves missing. Are these plants too young to put a neem oil/ soap spray on them? I’m am scared of burning the leaves… I don’t have floating row covers and it may take too long to order some. Will the new sprouts that have their new leaf/leaves chewed off recover… will they sprout new leaves? The stem and the harder two cotyledons are still very healthy looking. Thank you in advance for your advice and help.

    • Roll newspaper or other paper to form a cylinder that you can place around the seedling; you can cut off the ends of a can or use a milk carton or jug. If the leaves are disappearing, earwigs, snails, or slugs may be coming out at night and feeding. You can also sprinkle diatomaceous earth around each seedling–to act as a barrier. Moisten newspaper and loosely roll it; place it in the garden; in the morning unroll the paper to see if slugs, snails, or earwigs have taken shelter. You can then destroy them.

  49. Hi! I have planted my bush beans in a 5 falling bucket. I placed three young plants in the bucket together. The large broad leaves that are on the plant seem to be shriveling up, but the small pointed leaves in the middle look very health. Is it normal for these leaves to shrivel? Thanks!

    • The larger leaves are older; the pointed leaves are younger. The soil may have gone dry causing the older leaves to shrivel; it might also have been sun to bright for the young plant. As the old leaves fade, new leaves will replace them; but they may meet the same fate. Keep the soil evenly moist, avoid high nitrogen fertilizer, protect the plants from midday sun–especially if the weather is hot, protect the plants from a constant breeze or wind.

  50. We planted bush beans couple weeks ago using the sfg method of 9 plants to one square foot. The plants looked great until a day ago when we noticed some leaves were all curled up and brittle, and turning a tannish gray color in large splotches, some starting to take up the entire leaf.. Looking online, it does not look like powdery mildew as its not at all powdery looking at all or in as small of specks as I see in pictures. We have had humidity and the soil has been pretty moist. Any idea what’s happening and how to treat? Also any feedback on the sfg method? Is it too much for a small space?

    • Nine bush beans in a square foot are too many; one bush bean per square foot is a better strategy. In humid climates beans must have plenty of air circulation to avoid fungal diseases such as powdery mildew. Thin out the weakest plant and treat the remaining plants with an organic fungicide. It’s not to late to replant if these beans fail.

  51. My beans are just sprouting nicely, have about 6 leaves per plant. Went out there this morning and 4 plants had a few leaves cut right off. Not at the base but at the top. Nothing looks eaten at all. Wondering what would do this.

    • Any number of critters would enjoy tender bean leaves. Place bird netting or a row cover over the plants until they get three times the size they are now. Check around the perimeter of the garden to be sure no slugs or snails are nearby.

  52. The leaves on my bush beans are yellowing and spotted. Could it be a virus? The beans are coming in nicely. Are the beans safe to eat?
    Growing in a 5 gallon bucket

    • If the leaves are mottled, puckered, with yellow patches, the disease is bean mosaic virus. Pull and destroy the infected plants. Do not eat the bean pods. This disease is spread by aphids; check other plants for aphids and spray with insecticidal soap.

      • Hello my green bean plant are starting to get sticky and wrinkling and I read it might be an insect what fertelizer can I use to remove them but not harm the plant

        • If insects are attacking your plant you will need an insecticide or pesticide–not a fertilizer. You can use a strong stream of water to wash insects off the plant; that may be enough. If the problem persists, visit a nearby garden center and ask for insecticidal soap or a stronger bug spray.

  53. I have cluster beans in my garden, it has black spots on leaves but still New leaves were coming healthy, And The plant got 5 feet long, gave good harvest. bt suddenly today all the leaves with stems dropped. I dont understand why all leaves fell down. the black leaves as well as the health y ones

    • If you checked the black spots carefully and they were not insects, then the plant likely has developed a bacterial disease; bacterial infections commonly spread via the water-conducting vessels in the plant; that would explain the sudden collapse. There is no cure for a bacterial disease; the plant will need to be removed and placed in the trash so that other plants do not become infected. If the black spots are insects, spray with an all-purpose horticultural oil to suffocate them.

  54. Long time gardener and use pole beans as a staple, an excellent producer. This year the plants came up, looked healthy until about 4″ high then began to wilt in the heat of the day. They would recover in the late day and continue to grow but the severely wilted ones die. I’ve noted that they have a rotten or chewed off appearance about an inch below the soil line. The beans had been mulched with extra light watering but to no avail. They seem to be sending out a few secondary roots but the stem is extremely weak as are the vines. They are grown on a perimeter fence while the bush beans and edamame grown in the middle of the garden about 8′ away are all looking healthy. I can’t find any visible pests. The row is 15′ long and all plants are affected. Suggestions?

    • Clear vegetation apart from the beans along the fenceline. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth at the base of the plants; this should control earwigs or other nighttime insect pests from nibbling on the stems. Keep the mulch back from the stems; pest insects can hide in mulch during the day and then feed on plants at night. For those plants that are weak, replant or reseed. If you want to save the weak plants, fertilize with an all-purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer–it may help.

  55. My bush bean plant looks fantastic. But the flowers are all black and falling off. There is no fruit because all the flowers are black crisps. The leaves look fine.

    • The flowers may be failing for a couple of reasons: (1) hot temperatures greater than 90F; flowers will be fine when temperatures moderate (2) insufficient water; the soil is getting too dry between waterings; (3) too much nitrogen in the soil; avoid overfertilizing; (4) insufficient pollination–encourage bees and other pollinators. Because the leaves remain good; disease is likely not the cause of the flower failures.

  56. Gardening since 4 yrs old, now 65. I planted 2 types of beans blue lake and a heirloom variety(same everything(sun, water, soil, planting/same day and time, with one group next to the another); and never seen this. All seeds are were bought new; both types have great plants no problems, and the beans on the heirloom are perfect and plentiful. The blue lake beans are full, firm (fresh/healthy, not dried, no mold or fungus, totally edible)and plentiful too, but every pod has turned white with a few purple streaks on some(1 or 2 pods have a hint of green on the tips), and all the beans themselves have turned a patch work of light to dark purple with white spots. I am totally confused? Hope you have an answer. Also, here in Indiana we are experiencing major death and lack of bees… this has caused flowers to wilt and die without being pollenated; thus no fruit, on sections of garden plants, third year for this.

    • A couple of possible reasons for the purple-streaked beans: (1) the beans were mislabeled or mispackaged; they are not ‘Blue Lake’; they are ‘Dragon’s Tongue’ beans or ‘Rattlesnake Pole Beans’; (2) the pods are sunburned; (3) the soil is phosphorus-deficient.

  57. The bottom third of my runners seem to have died lost leafs/ brown while the top two thirds still look healthy and productive…imagine a lolly-pop?

    Is this a serious problem and what action should I take re next year?


    • It would not be uncommon for the lower and older leaves to die back or fail first. Contributing factors to leaves failing at the bottom of a plant would be lack of air circulation or lack of sunlight–both of these can occur as nearby plants grow large. If air circulation and sunlight are not a problem, you can give the plant a boost by feeding with a dilute solution of fish emulsion or kelp meal.

  58. Hi
    Yard long bean is one of a high yield vegetable in our farm, but some of them turn yellow from middle recently, we have add some compost to the soil but they didn’t get better, could you help us with this problem? I attached pictures link in ‘website’ below.🙏

    • Feed the plants with a dilute solution of fish emulsion every 10 days. If temperatures have been 90F or greater over an extended period, the problem may resolve when temperatures moderate. Keep the soil evenly moist; do not let it go dry.

  59. We’re growing borlotti beans and many of the pods are drying out and the beans an orangey brown colour inside. 2 questions
    1/ are the orange brown beans safe to eat? some only have a little bit of brown some are half or more orangey brown.
    2/ how do we stop getting orangey brown on beans?

    • Check your planting date; is it possible the beans have been in the garden past maturity and are naturally drying? If the beans have not reached maturity, they may be infected with a fungal or viral disease. Both leaves and pods can be infected with disease. For a sure diagnosis, you can take a sample to the nearby cooperative extension and have a crop expert look at your sample. If you suspect the bean plants are diseased then you should not eat them. If some of the plants are not affected, feed them with a dilute solution of fish emulsion, keep the soil evenly moist–dry soil can cause beans to turn brown or orange. If you suspect a fungal disease, spray with an organic fungicide.

  60. I planted my French beans very late as an experiment. Most of them have flowers or buds. Is it too late to move them to the tunnel where they will be warmer and more sheltered?

    • If possible, place a portable plastic tunnel over the beans–rather than transplant them to a new spot. If they are indoors in pots, you can transplant them.

    • Check for cutworms in the soil around the base of the plant. Cutworms are night feeders and will nibble the stalk then hide in the soil again during the day. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the stalks of the plants–and even on the leaves. This is an organic pest control you can get at a garden center.

    • If the “tumor” you see is cream or white, it is likely a bean Rhizobium root nodule; this is the result of the bean’s (and other legumes) symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. This is a good thing; the plant is converting nitrogen from the atmosphere into useful nitrogen for plant growth. If the “tumor” is reddish or black, it may be a sign of a root rot disease.

  61. I planted Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans (yellow variety) this past summer in a container on my balcony. Beside them were rattlesnake pole beans. Both grew well and produced but the yellow Kentucky Wonder’s tasted terrible. I was surprised because I’d heard great things about the flavor. The rattlesnakes tasted fine – nice as did other yellow beans – bush variety of improved wax – in a different container on the otherside of the balcony. I saw you wrote too much water could make beans taste bland but these weren’t bland but just not pleasant or bean like at all. As well I picked some late (I see from your posts that could affect taste)but others were picked young and proper time. Could they have cross bred with rattlesnake and had a terrible flavor from that? I’m hesitant to try them again this year since they seemed so unhappy on my balcony! Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    • The plants could have cross-pollinated. If you plant two bean varieties again this year, separate them by as much space as possible. Sunlight, water, and soil, and harvest time can all impact flavor. Use fresh soil in the containers, give the plants plenty of sunlight, and keep the soil just moist. If you are harvesting the beans for fresh eating, begin your harvest as soon as the pods begin to plump up. Young and tender beans will be the most flavorful.

  62. I live in Hawaii and have been growing Italian green beans in a horse trough, under a UV transparent cover. I can control the watering but sometimes rain blows onto the garden. The temperature here rarely reaches 90 degrees and I do not think that is an issue. Not only have the leaves on my plants developed rough, depigmented spots, but there are weird green, spongy “warts” starting to grow on the stems. Is there any hope?
    BTW, thank you for your responses; it must take a lot of your time to do this and it is very kind of you.

    • Blotches on snap bean leaves and stems are often a sign of bacterial blight; bacterial diseases can not be cured. It would be best to remove infected plants so that others do not become infected. Bacterial infections can be spread by splashing water and through bacteria-tainted soil. Look for a variety that is resistant to bean diseases such as Tendergreen, Kentucky Wonder, Harvester, and Cherokee Wax

  63. I started my bush beans inside, and they grew very tall in about a week about 8 inches before the first leaves started. Then when I transplanted them outside the wind destroyed alot of them(I live in a windy area). I realized I did not harden them off. (I’m a beginner). But why did they grow so damn tall so fast? Tbey were planted with very little root room maybe? Not enough sun from being planted inside?

    • Seedlings grow lanky and tall when they are stretching for sunlight; this often occurs when seedlings are started indoors. Set the grow lamp just two inches from the tops of the plants and then slowly lift the lamp as the seedlings grow. Gently brush the tops of the plants each day; this will help the stems grow stout. Harden off the plants over a week’s time–an hour a day outdoors– to help them acclimatize to outdoor conditions. Once planted out, feed them every 10 days with a dilute fish emulsion or kelp meal solution.

    • Green growth with no flower or fruit set is usually the result of too much nitrogen in the soil. Try a high phosphorus fertilizer such as 5-10-10.

  64. My Desperado green beans are blossoming, forming small bean pods which turn yellow and fall off. What can I do to help this?

    • Feed the plants a high phosphorus fertilizer, such as 5-10-10; this can help the young beans. Encourage pollinators; flowers and young fruits can fail if pollination is insufficient.

  65. My pole bean plants are already climbing up the poles but something is snipping off the lower leaves thus killing the long upper ones on the poles. The leaves themselves are not being eaten; they are just cut cleanly off.

    • It is likely a critter (a rodent, rabbit, squirrel, vole, bird) is snipping the lower leaves or stems to get the moisture. Try placing bird netting around the plant or chicken wire to keep the critter at bay.

    • Green beans that produce curled pods are not getting enough water. Curled pods (called fishhooks) and pods with seeds that don’t mature to fill the pod (called polliwogs) can happen in hot, dry conditions. Bean plants need a gallon of water every week—more in very hot, dry weather. Fishhook and polliwog beans develop when bean plants are stressed.

    • Not all beans on a plant will come to harvest maturity at the same time. Pods that are shriveled may have grown past their mature date and they are naturally dying. Another reason pods can shrivel is the lack of moisture.

  66. My beans are growing into big vine and it’s just growing and growing but no flowers yet 😢 when will my beans will grow flowers.
    Thank you 🙏

  67. There is likely too much nitrogen in the soil. Nip the growth buds when vines get to top of pole or trellis. Give plants 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt mixed in a gallon of water; water with this solution twice. You should see flowers in two weeks.

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