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Bean Varieties: Best Bets and Easy-to-Grow

Beans varieties easy to grow include pole snap beans.
Bean Varieties that are Best Bets and Easy to Grow include snap-bush green beans, snap-pole green beans, bush yellow beans, lima beans, and dried and shell beans.

Need top-choice, sure-bet, best-pick, easy-to-grow bean varieties?

Here are 25 top-performers for the home garden divided into 5 popular bean types: (1) snap-bush green, (2) snap-pole green, (3) bush yellow, (4) lima, and (5) dried and shell beans.

Keep reading to the bottom of this post for my tips for sure-fired bean growing success. Also read How to Grow Beans.

Best Bet Snap-Bush Beans:

Blue Lake 274. 54-61 days. CBM. Tasty and unique flavor, plump, tender, fine texture. Dark-green, rounded pods 5½ to 6½ inches long; white seeds. Dwarf, bushy plants 12 to 22 inches tall. Beans come to maturity almost all at once; good for canning and freezing. Heavy yields.

Bush Kentucky Wonder. 52-65 days. R. Excellent flavor. Fleshy, tender, stringless, round-flattened pods to 8 inches long; carmine seeds. Heavy yielder. Good fresh and canned. Vigorous grower over extended period. Good grower in all regions. Also called Old Homestead.

Contender. 40-55 days. CBM, PM. Tasty fresh out of the garden or cooked. Medium-green, round-oval stringless 6 to 8 inch pods, slightly curved; buff mottled seeds. Bush plants 12 to 20 inch tall. Very productive and early to harvest. Tolerates heat and mildew.

Derby. 57 days. AAS. CBM. Excellent flavor. Straight, dark-green pods, oval and rounded to 7 inches long; best when picked 5 inches long; white seeds. Good for freezing and canning. Strong upright plant with slow seed development for long harvest. Weather tolerant.

Greencrop. 55 days. AAS. Excellent flavor, tender, meaty. Flat pods to 8 inches long, but just ½ inch wide, half the width of most Roman types. Top yields. Use fresh or for canning and freezing. Good grower in home gardens.

Harvester. 50-60 days. CBM, V. Round medium-green straight, stringless pods 5 to 6 inches long. Pods set high on hardy upright 21 inch plants. Grows well in warm, southern regions.

Provider. 52 days. CBM, PM. Excellent fresh and retains flavor after pickling. Medium-green, round, stringless pods to 6 inches long. Dependable, good choice for cool soil, early or late sowing; does well in heat and adverse weather. Adapted for many regions.

Romano Bush. 50-70 days. CBM. Distinctive flavorful bean, meaty. Long, flat, medium-green, stringless pods to 5 inches long. Bush type plant to 20 inches tall. Abundant yield.

Tendercrop. 46-61 days. CBM, PM, V. Crisp, tender, flavorful. Round, straight, slender, dark green pods 5 to 7 inches long; pods in clusters. Heavy yields; good home garden variety, adapted to northern gardens.

Topcrop. 45-53 days. AAS. CBM, PM. Very flavorful, tender, meaty. Straight, emerald-green, stringless 6 to 7 inch pods that are slightly curved; oblong, brown mottled seed. Strong upright 18 to 24 inch tall plant. For fresh eating, canning and freezing. Concentrated picking.

Best Bet Snap-Pole Beans:

Blue Lake. 62-75 days. CBM. Beany, sweet flavor, juicy and tender. Oval, straight, dark-green, stringless beans 5½ to 7 inch pods. Very good fresh, canned, frozen, or baked. Heavy, extended yield. Vigorous climber. Extended yield.

Fortex. 60-70 days. Tender, mildly sweet, nutty, meaty, savory flavor. Extra-long round stringless pods grow to over 11 inches; pick at 7 inches for slender filet beans; seeds are walnut-brown. A French favorite. Requires sturdy stakes.

Emerite. 55-70 days. Sweet, beany flavor. A true filet bean originally from Vilmorin, one of the oldest French seed houses. Straight slender green stringless pods: pick at 4 to 5 inches long for tender green beans; pick from 7 to 9 inches long for crisp, brittle pods. Good for freezing. Very productive vine grows to 8 feet tall.

Kentucky Blue. 51-73 days. AAS. CBM. Sweet, tender. Dark green, straight, smooth, stringless pods to 7 inches long. Best flavor and tenderness at 6 to 7 inches. Yields for weeks. Good grower on stakes in small gardens. A Kentucky Wonder and Blue Lake Pole cross.

Kentucky Wonder. 58-72 days. R. Tender, meaty pods with distinctive flavor. Medium-green, flat-oval 7 to 10 inch straight pods in clusters, stringless when young; white or brown seeded. High yields; extended season. Vigorous grower from 5 to 7 feet. Heirloom from Kentucky before 1864.

Romano. 60-70 days. Italian type. Very flavorful and meaty thick. Buff to brown seed with white eye; flat, medium-green stringless 5 to 6¾ inch pods. Good to eat when young. Unique flavor popular in Europe.

Scarlet Runner. 70 days for young pods, 115 days for shell beans. Sprays of scarlet flowers. Flattened, very dark green pods are edible and tasty when young; pods toughen as they reach full side. Shell older pods and cook beans like green limas. Vigorous vines. Attracts hummingbirds.

Kwintus. 60-80 days. Flavorful and tender. Long, flat green pods up to 11 inches long. Vigorous vine to 8 feet tall. A favorite European climbing bean suited for greenhouse growing or outdoors. Bears early, both the first and last bean to be picked.

Best Bet Bush Yellow Beans:

Goldencrop Wax. 45-65 days. AAS. CBM, V. Tender, stringless bean. Straight round bright-yellow 5 to 6½ inch pods; white seeds. Small compact upright plants; beans set in hot weather, resists blossom drop. Pods set well off ground. Abundant yield. Suited for home gardens.

Resistant Cherokee Wax. 50-56 days. AAS. CBM, V. Tasty, stringless wax been; oval bright-yellow straight 5½ to 6½ inch slightly curved pods. Large vigorous erect plant; heavy yields even in adverse weather. Believed to have been handed down from the Cherokee Indians.

Best Bet Lima Beans:

Fordhook 242 Bush. 70-85 days. AAS. Nutty flavor. Short, fat-thick greenish-white pods 3½ to 4 inches long and 1 inch wide with 3 to 5 large seeds. Very productive; easy to shell. Grows good in north and near the ocean.

Henderson’s Bush. 60-75 days. Pole type lima. Buttery, full flavor. Baby lima, slightly curved 2¾ to 3½ inch dark green pods, 3 to 4 small but plump green beans that dry creamy white. Good pod set; harvest early, bears until frost, drought resistant. Grow in southern or northern gardens.

King of the Garden. 85 days. Bush butterbean type. Excellent quality. Pods are broad, 4 to 6 inches long, smooth and flat; white seeds. Vigorous climber well adapted to cool growing conditions.

Dixie Butterpea White. 70-76 days. Butterbean type. Meaty taste, succulent texture. Medium-dark green pods to 4 inches long; white seed. Vigorous bushy plant 16 to 23 inches tall; extremely prolific producer. Pods set in high temperatures and continue until frost. Good home garden choice.

Baby Fordhook Bush. 75-75 days. Butterbean type. Delicate flavor, and tender; best cooked with ham. Small 2¾ inch pods are slightly curved; each contains 3 to 4 bright-green “baby” seeds. Bush stands 14 to 16 inches tall.

Cranberry shelling beans
Cranberry shelling beans

Best Bet Dried and Shell Beans:

Black Turtle. 85-105 days. Popular for black bean soup, stews, and refrying. Small black pea-sized beans. Upright bush, half runner. Disease and heat resistant, also hardy. Widely grown from Southwest to Cuba and into South America.

French Horticultural. 63-68 days. Excellent green or shell or dry bean. Flat oval 6 to 8 inch long straight pods bright green maturing to yellow splashed with red when dry; purple beans. Bush-type plant 18 to 20 inches tall with short runner. High yields. Good freezer. Heirloom.

Navy. 85-100 days. Nutty, mild flavor. Small white beans in 4-inch pods. Plant 16-24 inches tall. High yields. Excellent for baked beans, soup, or stew; skin is firm and does not much when cooled.

Vermont Cranberry. 60-85 days. Unique sweet taste and fine quality. Oval, medium-sized, plump cranberry colored beans from red-mottled pods; 5 to 6 seeds per pod. Seeds are green shelled or dried. Reliable, hardy, easy to shell. Popular New England heirloom.

Grow 80 vegetables: THE KITCHEN GARDEN GROWERS’ GUIDE

Bean Growing Tips for Success:

Planting. A plant bean in full sun after all danger of frost has passed in spring. Beans will not germinate in soil colder than 60°F. Sow successive crops every 2 to 3 weeks until 60 days before the first frost. Plant seeds in raised ridges to 6 inches high in spring; in summer, plant in furrows to ensure contact with soil moisture.

Roll bean seeds into a moist paper towel and place the end of the towel in a jar of water for several hours before sowing. This will soften the seed case and speed germination

Support pole beans. Pole beans require the support of poles, tepees, cages, or trellises. Set up supports when you sow seed. Air circulation is crucial to warding off disease.

Even moisture and mulching. Beans require even, consistent watering. Avoid overhead watering. When plants are 12 inches tall, mulch with aged compost to both feed your crop and keep soil moisture even.

Harvest. Pick beans at the right time: pick filet beans when they are pencil thick; pick snap beans when you feel seeds forming in pods–the bean should snap when bent in the middle; pick green shell beans when the pods are full size but have not begun to dry; pick dried beans when the pods are stiff and break with pressure.

Abbreviations:

AAS=All America Selection, resists most disease.

CBM=Common bean mosaic virus.

PM=Powdery mildew.

R=Rust.

V=Verticillium.

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24 Comments

  1. Hi Folks;
    I have been selectively improving a new variety of a natural (insect) open-pollinated cross, that has recently shown itself to be quite a remarkable bean. From it’s discovery in 1996 to the present, I have doubled the bean size, and more than quadrupled the quantity of beans per plant.
    It is an improved cross between standard, bush habit Navy bean mothers, and Oregon Blue Lake (vine habit) fathers, that combined the best qualities of both, thanks to the bees.
    In it’s immature phase, a plump, lush, long, tender, and sweet stringless green bean can be harvested throughout the season. The self-terminating characteristic of the Navy bean mothers allows them to be field dried. The bean itself is a long white bean that tastes and cooks like regular Navy beans.
    The stringless nature of the OBL fathers allows the bean seed to dry into paper-thin, intact tan pods that do not split open to cast seed as many beans will do. Dried brittle, they can easily be shelled mechanically.
    Through the years I have weeded out long vine characteristics, along with reinforcing a resistance to mold, fungus, and viral bean rot, to produce a robust, giant bush habit bean. Where other bush beans recommend 6 inch spacing, I recommend 16 inch spacing for these large, prolific producers.
    My champion plant this year produced 60 pods with an average of 5 beans per pod (up to 8 beans in a single pod), close to 4 ounces of dried beans, averaging 0.376 grams per bean, or 76 beans per ounce, though some beans have achieved up to three quarters of a gram each.
    The average is 2.7 ounces of dry beans per plant, most produce over 40 pregnant pods, and one plant gave me 78 pods (though not all were pregnant).
    Please contact me at this email address if interested. Please put “Space Navy Beans” in the subject line. I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.
    David E. Cowlishaw gitaway@monitorcoop.com
    6617 S. Monte Cristo Rd.
    Woodburn OR 97071
    503 634 2444 & 2555

  2. Space Navy Beans Two point OH!
    My beany babies have reached the east coast, landing in West Virginia, and Florida!
    I’ve made up a number of tripartate snack sized ziplock baggies, holding Alpha, Beta, and Cappa (sorry, no Greek spell chech) groups, the divided baggie holding 17 Top plant bean seeds (approximately 6 grams) of the top plant, all producing over 3 ounces of dry beans, 10 grams of Beta group (2.7 to 3 ounces of beans), and 20 grams of Cappa group (a slice of the middle of the bell curve, represented by 10 plants, producing between 2.5 to 2.7 ounces of beans per plant, selected by bean size (low bean count, high bean weight ratio).
    Making them available to home gardeners for a “book report”, gathering testimonials, pictures, and personalities, almost free of charge (I’ll pay the postage), please write me, and get involved in the natural food movement, business plans (to include you) to follow.
    This is a time and inventory limited offer, first come, first served. Ok, I still have “soup beans” available, but only for soup!
    David E. Cowlishaw
    6617 S. Monte Cristo Rd.
    Woodburn OR 97071

  3. can u explain the process of planting yellow short beans called uyole in tanzania–the fertilizers to use for planting and boosting for the highest yields. thanks

    • Sow beans when the soil is at least 60F; the best growing temperature for beans is 70-80F. Beans want light, regular water from germination until flowering; once flowering occurs increase the water. Give beans low nitrogen fertilizers, moderate phosphorus and potassium–if you can work aged compost and animal fertilizers into the soil, that should be fertilizer enough. Mulch around beans to keep weeds down and conserve soil moisture. Avoid overhead irrigation and do not work or cultivate beans when they are wet, that can spread disease.

      • Yes, I agree with most of your advice, however, I have found that the beans are just fine with overhead sprinkling, unless the fruits are laying on the moist ground, then they tend to mold and rot.

        Staked over-producers (like my “Space Navy Bean” or SNB), can successfully hold their seed until the drying season, and they can be harvested from the field cracklin’ dry! Stringless, they hold onto their seed, even when dried in the field. Sorry, been working on this variety since 1996, and will want to market it at some point in future history.
        I expect a 5 ounce plant champion this year, 5 ounces of dried bean seed per plant! And then I will allow reproduction of the winners.

    • The best beans for canning are green and wax beans. Green and wax beans are harvested before their seeds grow to maturity and while their pods are tender and edible. These beans are best when they make a crisp snapping sound when snapped in half. Choose beans that look smooth and crisp with no blemishes or sports. The beans seeds should not be bulging through the pod–if seeds are bulging the pod will be tough. Preserve beans within three days of harvest. A green bean that is good for canning is Bush Blue Lake 247. Yellow beans good choices for canning are Eureka and Gold Rush.

    • Choose any green or yellow beans for pickling–choose the variety you most like to eat fresh. Choose beans that are 5 to 6 inches long and make every attempt to pickle the beans within 24 hour of harvest for best flavor.

  4. I live in Dunlap Tennessee. I planted Blue Lake pole beans and the crop has be very meager. This has been a hot, humid, and dry summer, but I have watered my beans. Do they not do well in hot weather. Now that fall is close, I seem to have more beans, also could they be too crowded?

    • The beans took a rest when the weather got hot. It is not unusual for summer vegetables to go into a near dormant stage with temperatures climb into the high 80sF and higher. Pole beans do not mind being a bit crowded; plant 8 to 12 inches apart and train them up.

  5. Here’s another dry bean to try: Anasazi. You can use your favorite search engine, to find out more info on them. But I tried some, last year, and had great success with them, with very little effort on my part. They’re native to the southwest region, so grow well during the hottest days of summer, and produced well, even in my Texas heat!

    Best of all? They contain 25% less of the gas-producing stuff that’s in most dry beans! Okay….some might call that not such a great thing!!

  6. When I was a kid a million years ago we would sit under the shade tree and shell beans to eat and freeze at my grandmothers. We shelled most of them and the ones too small to shell we snapped and added to the shelled ones. I don’t know the variety and was wondering if anyone here might know. I’m wondering if they might have been a black-eyed peas variety.

    • One green bean plant may yield up to 120 bean pods. The yield per hectare will depend upon how many plants you plant per hectare. Bush beans are commonly thinned to 4 to 6 inches (10-15cm) apart in rows 30 to 36 inches (76-91cm) apart.

  7. This is my 1st time w/sweet potatoes. I followed directions, planted the slips, they perked up, and a rabbit nipped off the leaves of all 12, as well as part of the stem. If I leave them -about 2″ or so stems sticking out- will they releaf, or do I call it a day?

    • Plants want to grow; if the root or seed tuber was not destroyed by the rabbits, they plants will sprout new stalks and leaves.

  8. why have some shell beans, cranberry and cannelini, germinated with the seeds still attached to first leaves? Othe seedlings come up without seeds attached.
    Thanks

    • Seed coats sometimes remain attached to the leaves; they do not sufficiently dry to fall away. This is not unusual. You can gently remove the seed coats or let them remain for the season.

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