Growing Butter Beans, Planting Tips, Ideas, Secrets

Growing Butter Beans

Hello friends, we are here with a new topic called Growing Butter Beans or Growing Lima Beans for its edible seeds or Beans. Butter Beans grow in much the same way as Green Beans, although they tend to take longer to mature. Butter Beans have a sweet, starchy taste and a smooth texture.

  • Botanical Name – Phaseolus lunatus
  • Common Name – Lima Beans, Butter Beans, and Chad Beans
  • Mature Size – Bush variety about 2 feet tall; pole variety about 12 feet tall
  • Sun Exposure – Full sun
  • Soil Type – Moderately rich, well-draining
  • Soil pH level – Acidic to neutral (6.0 to 6.8)
  • Bloom Time – Summer
  • Flower Color – White or yellow
  • Hardiness Zones – 2 to 11 (USDA)
  • Native Area – North American and Central America
  • Toxicity – Toxic to humans

A Step-by-Step Planting Guide To Growing Butter Beans, Tips, Ideas, and Secrets

Growing Butter Beans
Growing Butter Beans

Different Varieties of Butter Beans

Types of Lima Beans

Lima Bean plants have mainly two growing styles. Those are bush and pole. Care for both bush and pole Bean varieties is the same, while spacing and harvesting time differ.

Bush Lima Beans are also called Butter Beans, grow about 2 feet tall, have small seeds, and bear pods quickly. Butter Beans come in a wide variety. Popular bush Bean varieties include Fordhook 242, Eastland, Henderson, Thorogreen, and Dixie Butterpea.

Pole Lima Beans are also called potato limas, can grow or vine up to 12 feet high. Popular pole or climber varieties include Yellow, Christmas, and King of the Garden, Florida, and Big Mama.

Some of the commonly used Lima Bean Varieties are;

Breeders are continually working to improve crop yields and come up with shorter-season Bean varieties. Some plant varieties are better for long, warm-season climates and others excel in more temperate zones. There are many heirloom Bean varieties still being offered and perform as well as the newer varieties.

‘Christmas’ – These large and white Beans have a potato-like texture. They are an heirloom Bean variety and take about 90 days to mature.

‘Jackson Wonder’ Butter Bean – These buff-colored Bean varieties have burgundy speckles. They handle heat well as well as a shorter season and take 66 days to grow.

‘King of the Gardens’ – It is the most commonly grown Bean variety, this one has large white Beans that are produced over a long season (88 days).

‘Henderson’s Bush’ – This is an old and reliable variety with small white Beans. It producing for weeks and grows to maturity in about 65 days.

‘Fordhook 242’ – A heavy producer of medium-sized Beans, this variety is a good choice for cooler climates and it takes about 72 days to grow to maturity.

Soil and Climate Requirements for Growing Butter Beans

Butter Beans need full sun to produce plump, green pods. Butter Beans do not grow well and will not produce until soil and air temperatures are at least 16°C. Bush types typically mature in about 65 days and pole types take 80 to 100 days to yield Beans. In hot weather conditions, the pole Bean variety will yield Beans in about 78 days. Plant Beans in a sunny location in well-drained and medium-rich soil with a pH level of 6.0 to 6.8.

Butter Beans require loose, evenly moist, and well-draining soil. As legumes, Butter Beans do not need overly rich soil. The soil must be well-draining and moderately rich in organic matter. Heavy clay soil can pose growing problems because Butter Beans have deep and expansive roots. Soil pH levels should be in the neutral range of 6.0 to 6.8.

A rich and loamy soil high in organic matter is ideal for germinating Butter Bean seeds. Compost or organic-rich soil is less likely to form a hardened crust as well as being soil rich in nutrients. Though, soil crusts form when moisture evaporates from the top layer of soil. Then, to protect against crusting, consider spreading a thin layer of sawdust or sand over newly planted seeds. The right soil pH is necessary for Butter Bean germination. The Bean seeds and young plants have trouble taking in the necessary nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus when soil pH levels are outside of the ideal range for plants.

Water is necessary for germination to take place. In wetter regions or when soils are high in water-retaining organic matter, less water is needed. A general guideline is to water plants until the soil is soaked about 4 to 6 inches below the surface.

Sowing Butter Bean Seeds

Self-pollinating Butter Bean flowers produce large amounts of nectar, attracting bees that can be carrying pollen from other varieties that are planted less than a mile away. If you save your Butter Bean seeds, do not plant other ButterBean varieties nearby. Put poles or stakes into place before you plant pole Bean varieties. Do not soak the Bean seeds before you sow them and do not overwater the plant after you sow them. If you plant bush Bean types in hills, spaced about 4 to 6 feet apart. If you plant them in rows, space them about 2 to 4 feet apart. Sow pole Bean types to 2 to 4 inches deep and 4 to 8 inches apart in rows that are 4 feet apart.

How to Grow Butter Beans from Seed

Butter Beans can be direct sown about 1 to 2 inches deep and it has big seeds. Space bush Butter Bean varieties about 4 to 6 inches apart.

If you have a short season and want to grow pole Butter Beans, consider starting the seeds indoors 3 to 4 weeks before your last frost date. Or, warm the soil in the spring season with a layer of black plastic, then direct sow the seeds with some protection around the seedlings, such as a row cover or straw bales. The soil needs to be at least 18°C for good germination. If you are not pre-warming the soil, wait for about 2 to 3 weeks after the last frost date to direct-seed.

Tips for Growing Butter Beans

  • You will need a spot location with full sun to get the most from your lima Beans. The plants thrive best in warm temperatures and long days. Also, for plant growth, full sun exposure will help keep the vines dry and less prone to fungal problems.
  • Growing Butter Bean plants in your garden are easy. Then, start with good soil that has been amended with compost or has been fertilized properly.
  • Butter Beans are sensitive to cold soil. If you plant them before the soil is warm enough, the seeds won’t germinate. You could want to consider adding a pea and bean inoculant to the soil. This helps fix nitrogen in the soil.
  • Plant the Butter seeds about 1 inch or 2.5 cm deep and 6 to 10 inches apart. Cover and water thoroughly. You should see sprouts in about 1 to 2 weeks. If you’re growing pole Butter Bean variety, then you’ll need to provide a pole, cage, or some support for the Butter Beans to climb up. Be sure to water evenly and the Beans receive 2 inches of rain per week.
  • Butter Bean plants do not grow well in dry conditions. Good drainage is necessary for healthy Butter Bean growth as well.
  • Butter Bean plants do not like extreme conditions and grow best in climates that stay around 21°C for several months. Though, they can handle warm temperatures better than prolonged cool temperatures. Butter Bean plants are not frost-hardy.
  • At sowing, cover the Bean seeds with sand, vermiculite, or a peat moss-vermiculite mix instead. Cultivate around Butter Beans carefully to avoid disturbing the shallow root system. Do not handle Beans when they are wet because this can spread fungus spores. Set poles, stakes, or trellises in place before planting pole Butter Beans.

Planting Time for Growing Butter Beans

Butter Beans are a tender annual that grows best in air temperatures between 15-21°C. Start seeds indoors as early as 2 or 3 weeks before the average last frost date in spring for transplanting into the garden. Start Butter Beans indoors in a biodegradable peat or paper pot that can be set whole into the garden so as not to disturb plant roots. For continuous harvest through the growing season, sow succession crop bush lima Beans every 2 weeks or follow bush lima Beans with long-maturing Pole Lima Beans.

Pole Lima Bean varieties require a long growing period and are not a good choice where the season is short. Lima Beans will not set pods in temperatures above 26°C or cold or wet weather. Time your plantings to avoid hot weather. Butter Beans can be sown in autumn for winter harvest.

Companion Plants for Butter Beans

For the best crop yields and most benefits, plant both kinds of Beans near crops like corn and summer savory. Bush Bean varieties do well in proximity to cucumbers, celery, and potatoes, while pole-types such as sunflowers and runner Beans.

How to Plant Butter Beans

There are mainly bush and pole varieties of Butter Beans available. Bush Bean types grow about 2 to 3 feet tall and need staking when they are covered in pods. Pole Beans will require sturdy support, as the vines can easily grow 10 feet or more and become heavy with pods. Plant about 4 to 6 seeds on each side of a trellis.

Bush Butter Beans also tend to set their entire crop at once, so harvest from them only for a couple of weeks. If you can succession plant a row every 3 to 4 weeks, you will be able to prolong the harvest season. Or, you can plant both bush and pole Bean varieties; this way, you can start the season with the early maturing bush Beans and continue harvesting throughout summer from the pole Beans.

Sow Butter Beans about 1½ to 2 inches deep. Bush Bean varieties planted about 3 to 6 inches apart and set rows 24 to 30 inches apart. Pole Bean varieties planted about 6 to 10 inches apart; set rows about 30 to 36 inches apart. Pole Butter Beans can be planted in inverted hills about 5 or 6 seeds to a hill; space hills about 40 inches apart. Thin strong Bean seedlings from 4 to 6 inches apart. Carefully remove weaker seedlings by cutting them off at soil level by using scissors being careful not to disturb the roots of other seedlings. Bean can be crowded and they will use each other for support.

Water and Fertilizer Requirements for Growing Butter Beans

Keep the soil evenly moist while the Bean plants flower and form pods. The flowers and small pods may fall off if you irrigate by sprinklers or it rains when they are flowering. If the temperature level exceeds 15°C, apply mulch at the base of the plants to conserve moisture.

Butter Beans will produce foliage but not many Beans if the soil is rich in nitrogen. Legumes are described as nitrogen-fixing because they contribute nitrogen to the soil and they do not need additional nitrogen and used aged compost as a nutrient.

While Butter Bean plants do not require fertilization, they do have a long growing season adding a dose of fertilizer about midway through the season can help your plants thrive. Use an aged compost to fertilize the soil around your Butter Bean plants.

Grow Butter Beans in soil that is evenly moist and well-drained. If the soil moisture is too high at sowing, Bean seeds crack and germinate poorly and do not soak seeds in advance of planting or they may crack; and do not over-water after sowing. Rain or overhead irrigation during the flowering stage can cause flowers and small pods to fall off. Once the soil temperature averages greater than 16°C, mulch to conserve moisture.

Beans are best fertilized with aged garden compost, and they do not require extra nitrogen. These Beans set up a mutual exchange with soil microorganisms that produce the soil nitrogen Beans require. Avoid using green manures or nitrogen-rich fertilizers.

You may also check this: Lemon Growing Tips, Ideas and Secrets.

Pests and Diseases Management for Growing Butter Beans

Butter Beans can be attacked by aphids, Bean beetles, flea beetles, leafhoppers, and mites. Aphids, leafhoppers, and mites can be sprayed away with a blast of water from the hose or controlled by using insecticidal soap. Pinch out and then remove large infestations. Aphids can spread the Bean mosaic virus. Then, keep the garden clean and free of debris so that pests cannot harbor or over-winter.

Beans are susceptible to blight, mosaic, and anthracnose. Then, plant disease-resistant varieties. Make sure to keep the garden clean and free of debris and avoid handling plants when they are wet so as not to spread fungal spores. Removed diseased plants, and put them in a paper bag, and throw them away. Bean plants are susceptible to many soil-borne diseases; rotating Beans so that they do not grow in the same location more than every 3 years will reduce soil-borne diseases.

Usually, stem anthracnose is the main disease that strikes Butter Bean plants. To help control this problem, do not plant them in the same location for two straight years. Carefully buy Butter Bean cultivars that are resistant to the bean yellow mosaic disease. This virus is carried by aphids and it can cause plant leaves to turn brown and curl. Then, keep plants free of debris to help prevent attacks from some diseases like aphids, Bean and flea beetles, leafhoppers, and mites. Then, you can blast off aphids, leafhoppers, and mites with water.

Butter Bean plants are susceptible to some pests such as aphids and mites, as well as diseases like blight and plant cankers also called anthracnose. Butter Beans are susceptible to a variety of insects, most notably beetles. They can be effectively treated with a variety of other insecticides.

Bacterial and wilt diseases are common diseases common in the Bean family. This occurs just before, or during, the ripening of the crop. Though, fungicides are recommended in areas of high heat and humidity. Keep the leaves dry and then allow more spacing between plants for better air circulation.

Conditions Required for Growing Butter Beans

Once established, Beans will not need fertilizing and will generate their nitrogen. If the leaves of young plants are pale this is an indication of nitrogen deficiency and then fertilizes the plant with fish emulsion or other natural nitrogen-rich fertilizer.

Most Bean types are drought resistant plants but check the soil surface frequently and water when the top layer has become dried out.

Bush Beans begin producing before pole beans and come in all at once. Staggered planting, every 2 weeks, will keep bush Butter Beans going longer. Pole Bean varieties require time to grow their vines before they start setting Beans. The pole Bean plant will continue to produce for a month or two.

Pole Beans may need some initial help in climbing and keep the Bean plants well-watered. Mulch helps keep their shallow roots moist. Long producing Beans will benefit from feeding or by using a side dressing of compost or manure about halfway through their growing season.

When and How to Harvest Butter Beans

Bush Butter Beans will take approximately 60 to 80 days to produce ripe pods, where pole lima Beans will need about 75 to 90 days, depending on the variety. The Bean pods are ready to harvest once the pods are firm, plump, and between 4 to 8 inches in length.

Generally, Butter Beans can be harvested in the shelling stage or the dry stage. Shelling Butter Beans are ready for harvest after the pod has changed color. Dry Butter Beans are ready for harvest when the pods are dry and brittle and the seeds inside are hard.

When harvesting, gently pull the Beans from the plant and taking care not to rip the stems or vines. Though, picking pods as soon as they are ready will promote more sprouting throughout the season.

Storage and Viability of Butter Beans

Store Butter Beans in a cool, dark, and dry place and always keep them in an airtight container to keep out moisture and humidity. When stored under these conditions, Butter Beans will remain viable for 5 to 10 years.

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Commonly Asked Questions about Growing Butter Beans

How long do lima Beans take to grow?

When to harvest lima Beans changes from variety to variety, with 65 to 75 days being about the average amount of time it takes to make a crop.

How do you harvest and store Butter Beans?

Plant your Butter Bean seeds in the garden area, water regularly, and wait for the Bean plant to produce. Usually, harvest the Butter Bean when the Bean pods are plump with the Bean seeds within the pod.

How do you know when Butter Beans are ready to be picked?

The pods must be bright green and firm when ready for harvesting. The best flavor and texture come from younger Bean pods. Old pods will lose some of the green colors and become lumpy and filled with tough seeds.

Are Lima Beans easy to grow?

Lima Beans are easy to grow and require nice warm, and sunny conditions.

Why are my Lima Beans not producing?

If the soil is too wet then Beans not produce pods. Not enough water – Much like when the temperature levels are too high, Bean plants that receive too little water are stressed and will drop their blossoms because they should focus on keeping the mother plant alive.

How often do you water Lima Beans?

Lima Beans need about an inch of water per week to thrive.

How do you make lima Beans grow faster?

Water is necessary for the germination process to take place. Seeds planted in well-draining soil that is kept consistently moist will have the best chances of germinating and growing into a strong plant.

Why do my lima Bean plants have brown spots?

The most easily recognized symptom of anthracnose occurs on the Bean pods. Small and reddish-brown elongated spots form initially.


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