Sharing a tip about bush beans I learned long ago

momamamoJuly 1, 2008

This tip may be well known, but I want to share it at this time of year because now's the time folks are wondering about new plantings, succession plantings, etc.

I read this in some book - can't remember which one, though - so I can't give the originator credit. I can at least say that I've used this technique and was quite pleased with the results.

Once you harvest bush beans, cut the plants back so that there are just a few inches of growth and a few growth nodes. Then fertilize them and watch them grow! In the year that I did this, I thought it would be a fun experiment and didn't know what to expect. I ended up with very good yields and had enough time to cut the plants back once more. So I got 3 periods of growth and a lot of green beans! I was shocked at the end of the season to see how thick the stems had become.

There's probably plenty of time for some of you to start new seeds, but for others this may be worth a try. Happy gardening! Maureen

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jimster(z7a MA)

That's a great idea and it's a new one to me.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 12:29PM
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I'm going to try it-- thanks for the tip.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 12:36PM
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Hey-Never heard that one before; I will try it;


    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 11:39PM
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tomakers(SE MA Zone 5/6 or ?)

I have heard of doing this, but never tried it, as I always get at least 2 crops as long as I keep them picked and don't allow any to mature. I think the article I read mentioned running a lawnmower, set as high as possible, over them. Useful if you have a lot of beans.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 3:38AM
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Hi--thanks for the tip--will try this ths year!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 7:30PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Many years ago, before I fell in love with pole beans, I used a similar trick on my bush beans. I'd pluck off all flowers, pods, and leaves, leaving only the stems intact. The plants would respond by re-sprouting, and bearing another crop. I'd use the first picking for snaps, and let the second go for seed.

Some pole beans respond to a similar treatment. They might get "run down" after the first picking, producing pods that are few in number, twisted, or "pollywogs". Picking off all pods & flowers, and pruning back the runners, will stimulate the plant to put out new branches & flowers.

Cutting beans back, by whatever method, shocks them out of their reproductive cycle & back to vegetative growth.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 3:44PM
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Hmmmmmm....wonder if that works with everything? (running to get scissors....)

I guess I should post the results in "Garden Experiments."

Actually, all of my veggies are in clay pots, so that's experiment enough for one year.... maybe.

Verdant Croft

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 6:42PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

One summer, we had a very late frost, which zapped the top of my bush beans. They still had a couple good lower leaves, so I cut the frosted tops off and they did your idea is somewhat similar. Great idea!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 9:20PM
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Hi Momamamo!

Can you clarify something for me? You state to do cut down the stems after harvest. I've read that bush beans continue to produce beans as long as you keep picking them. Is this in fact true? This is my first time growing bush beans and I picked my first 20 beans today. I still have pods that aren't mature yet, so when would I try your suggested method? Thanks for your help!!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 12:14AM
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utdeedee(7A-East Tennessee)

Wow, that's interesting and I will try it next year. I had very early beans, pulled them after two months and I'm not on my second planting. I will definitely try this next year. Thanks a lot for sharing this.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 3:35PM
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Hey tomakers. Using a lawnmower is an interesting idea!

zeedman - same idea exactly! And what a timesaver.

catherinet - frost - the great pruner! LOL

essicalynn - well, to answer your question, yes, they do keep producing, but the "haircut" I read about rejuvenutes the entire plant. So, new leaves, new and increased bean production. I did this to mine when they after the first full flush of beans. They produced pretty heavily and I picked most of the beans over a 3-4 day period. Then I cut the plants down. Do keep in mind that fertilizing them at this time is important.

I hope this works for you guys! Maureen

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 5:45PM
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Thanks for the tip , I am going out right now and cut them back. Don

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 9:52AM
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So glad for this new information.
Thank you

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 9:00AM
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Glad to help! Maureen

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 6:09PM
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ppod(6 SE NY)

Maureen's idea deserves another look, don't ya think?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 1:02PM
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Esssicalyn is right, when I had bush beans they produced all summer and fall, more than I could eat, as long as I kept them picked. I didn't cut them back. Seems to me that cutting them back wastes time and energy on regrowth. Won't the right fertilizer will force flowering on a grown bush as well as a cut bush?

Might be an interesting comparative experiment to cut one bush back and just keep the other picked, and weigh the difference, if any, in beans produced.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 4:40PM
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kanuk(Zone 5 Qc Canada)

Okay. I have to ask.
Fertilizer? General 20-20-20 type?
I'd love to give this a try. Will it work with Golden Wax beans?
Newbie to veg gardening... Doh!
Thx in advance

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 8:31PM
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Cutting back works with cabbage too. After you cut the cabbage off, cut an x about 1/4 inch deep in the stalk. You will get 4 new cabbages. The first time my husband tried this he recut the x because he didn't think he went deep enough. We ended up with 8 cabbages on the plant. Of course that was too many to grow to any size.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 8:37AM
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I've always done the same as happyday - just keep them picked so they produce all season! :) Never did understand the succession planting recommendations for them - or for greens, either. As long as we keep them chopped & don't let them bolt, we'll have salads all season, too! *shrug*

Something else interesting that I'd read abt green beans & am I'm wanting to try: letting them completely mature & then just pulling the entire plant out, hanging it to dry & then storing/using the beans as dried beans. Anyone done that one? & if so, how do the beans cook & taste?

Very interesting tip abt the cabbages, oilpainter! Could you please elaborate a little more abt the procedure? As in: where on the stalk you cut the X? & also, when you cut the original cabbage off, how much - if any - leaf growth do you leave on? Thanks! :)

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 8:41PM
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ppod(6 SE NY)

Kanuk, here's a discussion on the negative effects of nitrogen fertilizer on beans that you'll probably find interesting:
No beans or flowers what's wrong?

Look at digdirt's comments. He's a well respected contributor in these forums.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 10:58PM
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kanuk(Zone 5 Qc Canada)

Thanks ppod. I'll go read & learn. Much appreciated.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 12:04AM
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Read this thread that started last year. Did anybody ever try it and how did it work? Just how far did you cut the plants back?

I have been picking and had a good multiple harvest but over the past 10 days or so, I have observed a very noticeable decrease in production. The weather is extremely hot here in Louisiana but the plants are watered and there is a very lush growth, just few beans.

I figure I might take a couple rows, cut them back and side-dress with some more compost, but am unsure how far to prune them.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 7:28PM
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I want to bump this again and ask if anyone has actually cut back bush beans to get a new harvest? My dragon tongue beans went from considerable harvest to very little to almost nothing left on the vine in the space of 3 weeks or so, and I don't see very many new flowers on the vines.

Anyone who has done this: did you cut them to just a few inches above the soil? Can you boost their re-growth by dozing them with blood meal or something? Also, if I have maybe 1 month of fairly warm growing time is it long enough to get another harvest after I mow them?

If there is some other way to reboot these bush beans, I'd love to know about it. I don't have a long growing season, and very little growing space, so it wasn't very feasible to stagger lots of plantings.

Thanks for the info...

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 7:21PM
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I planted two bush beans to fill vacate space about a month ago just see what happens. I've never grown beans before and I figured why not, it'll provide compost fodder. I knew it was too early to plant them in this heat, and sure enough they started blossoming--right in the middle of this 100 degree heat. The blossoms dropped, nothing set. So I just cut them back. We'll see in a month or so if it works and the blossoms reappear in better temperatures.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 9:14AM
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I just cut back a bunch of my plants. I will see what happens. There may not be enough time for this experiment here in the Pacific Northwest

    Bookmark   September 7, 2010 at 10:45PM
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The plants that I cut back are all re-sprouting and growing vigorously. I think if this had been done earlier in the season, it might have worked really well. I don't know if it is going to be faster than new plants from seeds though.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2010 at 6:31PM
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Thanks for the info; when you say you cut them back, exactly how far down did you cut them? The entire main stem down to 1 or 2 inches?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 12:35AM
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Interesting developments, a month ago my bush beans were destroyed down to the stems by grasshoppers and now the leaves have came back and the plant is setting beans. To bad freeze coming soon.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 10:32AM
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I cut them back to about 3 inches, but all of them had at least one branch division, but no leaves. I can now see flower buds. It's a race against time now.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 3:43PM
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Thank you so much for sharing this tip! I am new to the gardening world. This is my first year and i have 2 small gardens with pretty good success so far. I tried your tip on monday and was very surprised to find in only 4 days i have new leaves sprouting out! This seems to really work! And its early enough in the season for me to do this again! I have learned so much this year and i cant wait til next year when i can expand my gardens! Again thank you for the tip!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2011 at 10:27PM
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This is a great tip. My bush beans got nipped by the last frost-it's been so warm I decided to take a chance. I just left them, watered about every other day and now there is new growth. I was wondering about the viability of the bean with the new growth, but this tip answers my question! Thanks.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 12:01PM
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I may have to try this also because in my climate bush beans produce about 4 weeks. By that time the pole beans are producing and they will produce all season. It would be nice to extend the bush bean harvest tho.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 11:08PM
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Here in Tampa, bush beans last two to three weeks - basically two pickings. I plan to try this method in November/December. That is when we will have our next bean crop.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 3:58PM
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Not up on BEAN LINGO, but by bush beans I think you mean snap or green beans,string beans.
I made this comment, because my Father never cut his beans back, but he added fertilizer to butter beans when they started to loses they leaves after a heavy picking & they would start a new.
We are in zone 8 & beans bare for 100-140 days, then look poorly. No raised beds & only rain for water.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 1:03PM
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I have pruned green beans after reading about the practice in Organic Gardening years ago. Usually bush beans keep producing for many pickings. Many! But some years there is more pestilence than others and the plants begin to suffer. Bean beetles, rust or just plants that get too leggy -- all are reasons to consider cutting back the plants. Why not replant? Cutting back takes advantage of the established root system and the plants will regrow faster than new plants will reach production maturity. And my garden is organic so I don't use chemical-based fertilizers. I sprinkle corn gluten on the newly bared ground to prevent weed germination, or mulch with compost and give the reduced bean plants a good watering with a cocktail of fish emulsion and liquid seaweed. More lovely beans will soon appear. If I have had enough beans, I skip the pruning, simply pull the plants for the compost pile and use the space for a fall garden with broccoli, carrots and lettuce. We get lots of produce from limited space. Enjoy!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 9:55PM
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ameera(z11 Dubai)

Ooh I just found this thread after doing a search of a question of something else I wanted to find out about bush beans... but I am happy I found this one!!

I am growing bush beans for the first time here and I just planted seeds tonight, in fact! I wish I planted them earlier to increase my chance of getting to prune the plant back more times... if I succesfully grow the beans, I might have the chance to prune them back once... but that is a huge maybe... it might start getting too hot by then.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 5:50PM
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