How To Grow Beans In Containers: Growing Beans When You Have No Space

grow beans in containers

Pole beans, or runner beans, are such an easy plant to grow that is almost guaranteed to get you extremely fresh beans! Most beans aren’t as good even 3 days after picking them, as they lose their crunch. And they are so easy to grow in containers, you won’t have to buy them all summer! It’s so easy to grow beans in containers, and you don’t need much space for them either!

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Runner beans are different from bush beans because they grow up and need something to hold on to as they grow, whereas bush beans grow like a bush, where they don’t need anything to help stabilize them. They don’t take up much space, and you can have something to snack on all summer!

What You’ll Need

To grow beans in containers, you’ll need pots, a little bit of horizontal space, vertical space with sunlight, a plant trainer (or something else to prop the plants up on), soil, the plants (or seeds), water, and plant food.

Choosing a Pot

bean growing in terracotta pop
(the leaves were damaged by a hail storm)

You’ll either want terracotta or plastic (with drainage holes in the bottom!), and the plants need at minimum a pot depth of 6 inches and width of 6 inches. Slightly taller than this would be better, but 6 inches does work and they can grow! When looking at pots for the plants, ensure each one gets at least 3-4 inches of soil for itself, leaving a gap of about 3 inches between each plant. You can put more than one plant in a pot! Just make sure it gets enough space.

Terracotta pots are great because they can release any excess water through the sides, instead of leaving the roots soaking in too much water. With terracotta, you will have to water more often because of the same reason. With plastic pots, you won’t have to water as often, but if you do overwater, your plants might drown in the excess water.

In the image above, there are 2 bean plants in a terracotta pot that is 6 inches deep and 7 inches across, with each plant producing plentiful beans.

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In the image above, there are 2 bean plants in a terracotta pot that is 6 inches deep and 7 inches across, with each plant producing plentiful beans.

Maybe Use A Larger Pot

(This plant did produce many beans for the season, but at the end of the season looking at the roots, they were extremely root bound and could have done better in larger pots.)

root bound bean plant

Space Requirements

One of the great things about growing beans in containers is that unlike squash, they don’t require much horizontal floor space. You really only need the space for the size of the small container! But you will need at least 6 feet of vertical space for the plants to grow up.

Look for a sunny spot to grow the beans, where they’ll get at least 6 hours of sun a day.

young bean plants
young plants starting to grow up the wall

Plant Trainer

Without anything for the plants to grab on to, they won’t grow and you’ll end up with a tiny plant that barely produces any beans. So even if you’re growing beans containers, you still need something for them to grow up.

Plant trainers can be a simple design, or they can have a lot of fancy decorative parts at the top.

Most pole bean varieties like to grow at least 5-6 feet tall, so try to get something that goes up at least that high. Lean this up against a wall, or have it free-standing.

Another option is to string the beans. Have a string that goes across a support or something that’s about 5-6 feet in the air, with string connected at intervals down. These strands you’ll then want to stake in the ground near the bean plant so the beans can grow up those! (It’s similar to stringing hops, which you can read about here!)

The Bean Plants or Seeds

You can’t grow beans in containers without the plant! If you start the beans from seeds, try to start them in really small containers indoors a few weeks before the last frost (if you are in an area that frosts).

Otherwise, start the beans outside after the last frost, at least a few weeks before summer officially starts. They do grow quickly so if you can’t plant them at the exact right time, that’s okay! You should still be able to get beans from them.

Soil, Water, and Plant Food

Choose a soil for the beans that is meant for potted plants, and if you can, for growing vegetables in containers. Soil for containers has a bit of a different mixture than for garden beds, to help with water flow and nutrients that might normally be found already in the dirt. You’ll need to water regularly, and planting the beans.

Because these beans are growing in containers, and are quick growers, the soil can become nutrient deficient really quickly. Try to find a plant food that is made specifically for growing vegetables; since all plants have different nutrient needs!

growing beans on a wall
(6 beans growing in a footprint of 3 feet by 6 inches)

Tips to Grow Beans in Containers

A lot of how to grow beans in containers has already been written above but this will go through step by step, and how to make sure the plants can thrive and you get a hearty amount of beans to harvest.

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Plant the beans with at least 6 inches of soil below, and 3 inches of soil between each plant. If you’re starting the beans from seed, plant them inside a few weeks before the last frost in small containers (so they don’t get too much water).

When planting the beans in the pots, water the soil before you put the plants in to make it moist. With the plants, pull the roots apart some before planting into the dirt, so they can grow in any direction instead of being stuck to the shape of their last pot.

Put them next to something they can climb up, whether that’s a plant trainer or a string. Give them about 6 feet to grow upwards! You can always use zip ties to connect plant trainers together to give them more height to grow on. Just make sure you do that before the plants have gotten that tall!

Growing The Beans

beans starting to grow

Now it’s time to just care for the bean plants and let them grow! Water regularly. The amount you’ll want to water really depends on the size of the pot and the type of pot. Beans in small terracotta pots will have to be watered up to twice a day during the hot summer days. But if you’re in a larger plastic pot, just water around the plant and not as often.

The key is to watering when the soil is dry to the touch. These plants will also easily show you if they need water, because the leaves will wilt. They can be brought back by giving the plant water!

Feed the plants as often as your plant food recommends. Probably about once a week when the seed pods are forming.

Stopping Their Growth

top of a bean plant
pinch off at the top of the bean plant to stop them from growing up

The beans have reached the top of their trainer and want to keep going! They’ll keep looking for more places to latch on to, but something you can do to stop and have them focus their energy on the beans instead of growing up is to pinch off the top, right before some leaves.

This will tell the beans to stop growing upwards.

Watch The Beans Grow

freshly picked beans

Now it’s time to let the beans grow and get ready for harvesting! The beans will start to grow after they’ve flowered, and will take a few weeks from flowering to being able to eat. Simply pull the bean off the plant, rinse them, and enjoy fresh or cooked!

Store the beans in the refrigerator for up to a week, but remember the beans will lose their crunch after a few days.

One option you can do is to save some beans so you don’t have to buy plants next year! This is a good article on how to save the beans for next year!

dried beans
Save the beans for next year!

Looking for more ideas on growing your own food in containers? Check out how to grow your own onions and other vegetables!

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Runner beans are really simple to grow, don't need much space, and you'll get a huge yield out of just a few plants!
Beans are really easy to grow in containers! You don't need much space or dirt for these to thrive!
Beans are a great produce to grow when you don't have a lot of horizontal space. They mostly just need something to climb up onto!

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