Beans – Runner Beans

The scarlet runner bean was first introduced to Britain in the 17th century as an ornamental climber by King Charles I’s gardener, John Tradescant.   Runner beans are native to Central America (where they grow as perennials), and are grown in the UK as an annual.

  • Avoid planting in too cool conditions by starting in pots indoors in May (or delay planting until June).
  • Direct sow once soil temperature reaches 12ºC.
  • Sowings can be made from mid-May to July. 
  • Plant 2 inches deep, two seeds to a cane, spaced 6 inches apart.   Thin to the strongest plant per cane.
  • Beans need generous waterings in dry weather.
  • Loosely tie-in young plants to the cane supports as they grow.
  • Slugs and snails can be a problem.



  • Runner beans seeded in the growing shed May 2020 failed to germinate. Will try again.
  • Purchased runner bean seedlings late April 2019 and planted into the ground 27 April.  No cloche or protection provided.  Short bamboo support in place but will need taller extension.
  • planted seedlings at allotment; purchased at garden centre late June 2018; transplanted in high summer heat and dry.