Beauty and shade with scarlet runner beans

This vigorous vine does double-duty in the garden, producing both pretty flowers and edible pods. It sends up twining stems that will quickly scramble up supports, so provide a trellis, pole teepee or other structure.

Scarlet runner beans enhance the garden by producing pretty flowers and edible pods. Twining stems will quickly ascend supports, so make sure you provide a trellis, pole teepee or other structure.

With its large, heart-shaped, dark green leaves, scarlet runner beans can also mask an unsightly chainlink fence or provide shade when grown on an arbor. Its vines bear clusters of bright red-orange flowers, followed by flat pods that can be harvested and eaten when young.

Let some of the pods mature and dry in early autumn, and collect the pretty black-and-purple-patterned seeds for sowing in next year's garden.

common name: Scarlet runner bean

botanical name: Phaseolus coccineus

plant type: Tropical perennial vine, grown as an annual

zones: All zones (as an annual)

height: 8 to 15 feet

family: Fabaceae


growing conditions

  • sun: Full sun
  • soil: Fertile, well-drained garden soil
  • moisture: Evenly moist

care

  • mulch: None, or 1 to 2 inches of organic mulch
  • pruning: None
  • fertilizer: Apply compost or soluble fertilizer monthly during growing season, if needed

propagation

  • Seeds

pests and diseases

  • Bean beetles, aphids and rust disease may damage foliage

cultivars

  • ‘Scarlet Emperor' has red-orange flowers and is essentially the same as the species.
  • ‘Painted Lady' has coral-red and pinkish white flowers.

garden notes

  • Scarlet runner bean is a wonderful choice for kid's gardens; little hands can easily hold and plant the large seeds, and a vine-covered pole teepee makes a fun hiding place.
  • It's popular with hummingbirds and beneficial bees like bumblebees.
  • In very hot weather, it may bloom, but not set pods. However, it will start bearing when the temperature goes down a bit.

all in the family

  • Scarlet runner bean is a member of the pea family (Fabaceae, also known by its old name, Leguminosae), a large family that contains many important food crops and ornamental plants.
  • Scarlet runner bean pods are edible, but it's the related Phaseolus vulgaris, known as green bean or garden bean, that's more widely grown for food. Look for new hybrids like ‘Tenderstar' that are a cross of runner bean and green bean and produce pretty red and white flowers and many large, tender pods.

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