Difference between Runner and pole beans

chaman(z7MD)July 26, 2008

I am growing pole beans first time this year.Looking at the vigorous growth of vines I supporeted them by threads hanging from horizontal stake connected between two vertical poles keeping plant(vine) at the center between poles.

I have not grown runner beans yet.

In what way runner beans are different from pole beans.

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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Runner beans are a bean species, Phaseolus coccineus, with large seeds & usually red or pink flowers. Most runner beans are pole beans... hence the "runner" in the name.

Any bean which climbs is a "pole" bean, and there are many types other than the runners above:
- Lima beans, Phaseolus lunatus (which can be pole or bush)
- Common beans, Phaseolus vulgaris (pole or bush)
- Yardlong beans, Vigna unguiculata
- Winged beans, Psophocarpus tetragonolobus
- Hyacinth beans, Dolichos lablab
and several lesser-known species.

Usually when someone says "pole beans" with no other qualifier, they are referring to P. vulgaris.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 12:36AM
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I'm glad you asked the question. Zeedman, thank for the info on the different types of beans. Good info for a FAQ page.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 7:02PM
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Also, I have read that runner beans can be a perennial crop in the right climate. Vines die in the Winter but resprout from the live roots in the Spring.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 3:11PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

This year for the first time I have two rows of runners. One I sowed this year and one which survived from last year. Normally one or two plants survive but never a whole row before. They might well be perennial in your area, especially if you mulch well.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 8:33AM
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One obvious difference I found between runner beans and pole beans is the pollination process.Culprits are the Bumblebees who often puncture hole at the bottom of the flowers of the runner beans in order to harvest the nectar by-passing the act of pollination.When honey bees visit,some of them will use the same holes again without contributing any pollination.This is one of the reasons why runner beans are less productive at times.This requires larger number of bees to visit the flowers of runner beans.
Cooler nights will help pollination.
I found the follwing web site very useful to understand this.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 3:35PM
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albionwood(USDA 9/10, Sunset 17)

Runner beans do much better in cooler climates (in fact they don't do well in heat). I think the beans are superior as snap beans - richer flavor and more tender if harvested just before the seeds begin to swell.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 10:28PM
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I have pole beans, when the beans start to swell is the beans not as good, or is there a way to harvest the beans and what kind will they tast like?

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 8:02AM
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albionwood(USDA 9/10, Sunset 17)

There are lots of different varieties of pole bean. Some of them are grown for green beans, some for dry beans, and some are dual-purpose. If you want to eat them as green beans (i.e. whole pod), pick them before the seeds begin to swell; that's when they are at peak flavor and tenderness. Also keep them well picked to encourage production.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 11:41PM
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albionwood said it right about different varieties of different pole beans.I am growing Christmas lima this season.It came out to be a shelly bean or say dry bean variety.Pods are hard to cut to use as green beans.Pods grew to full size in a short period of time.Seeds in the pods also did not take long time to mature compared to bush beans I am growing.I am posting the pic. of these lima beans.
At the same time I am interested in knowing about the lima bean variety whose pods can be used as green beans.

Pic. of Christmas lima bean.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 3:06PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Chamen, I really love fresh-shelled limas... but the immature pods are inedible.

This is a photo of Hopi Pole. It will (reluctantly) climb to over 6 feet, but the yield in the first foot of the vines is incredible.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 5:41PM
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Zeedman,it is a nice pic. of Hopi pole beans having good yield.I would like to grow these beans.Pl. let me know how do they taste and where can I buy these seeds from.
I microwaved some shelled Christmas lima beans with adding little salt.It really has good nutty taste.
There are some pole bean varieties grown in Indian
sub- continent known as Valor Papadi and Surati Papadi. Their tender pods, later on shelled green matured seeds and at the end of the growth period as dry beans are widely used.

Pic.of Surati(dana) papadi.Grows to about 6 to 8 feet.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 6:33PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Chamen, that is a beautiful bean. It's hard to tell without a view of the blossoms, but it appears to be a variety of Hyacinth Bean. I have read that they are much more popular in India, and that there are named varieties there. Here there is usually just a generic "hyacinth bean", which is grown mainly as an ornamental.

There have been several threads regarding the possible poisonous nature of Hyacinth Bean in some stages. I'm left wondering whether the more-domesticated varieties in India have less of the toxins, or whether the traditional means of preparation destroys them.

Legumaniac that I am, I wish I could grow your Surati Papadi; but even if I could find the seeds, they are most likely daylength-sensitive. I'm too far North for them to bear seed. :-(

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 11:00PM
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zeadman,Legumanic? Oh! No for God's sake.You are the expert about beans and very successful gardener.Very knowledgable experienced gardener.See how many gardeners are asking for your advice.
Bean varietis that I post are edible. These beans are in diet staple since many centuries in India and nearby countries.I am growing these beans hare in Maryland weather for several years.I get enough beans but not as many one would harvest in warm weather like in India.
Give it a try.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 9:30AM
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I sowed few seeds of Runner beans in first weak of Aug.-08 to study if they are perenial.Thse seeds were sowed in a pot containing Moringa oleifera plant which I take indoor during winter.Plants are more than foot tall.One of the plant has developed flowering bud and is about to open.Is this normal time period for plants to develop flowers? Just curious to know about it.

Pic. of Runner bean.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 5:08PM
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These runner beans are growing really well. This experiment is being carried out to know if they are perennials.
Plants will be taken indoor during winter and if they survive I will plant them in the vegetable garden next year.Plants are flowering now. Flowers are so pretty that I will plant few in my flower garden.Their pretty tender foliage and beautiful flowers make them distinct from other pole beans.
I hope they produce few beans when indoors.
Your comments and advice will be helpful in growing these plants.

Recent pic. of flowers.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2008 at 4:40PM
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I have grown runner beans as perenniels. In mild Seattle winters, runner bean tubers will survive all winter in the ground in the garden. In other areas, people sometimes dig them up and store them for the winter. Some people say that this produces an earier crop and others report that they get earlier crops from seed-sown plants.

In your situation, I am wondering if the plant will have a chance to make a tuber before the top dies and the plant goes dormant for the winter.

Or, if you try to keep the vine going all winter and into next summer, will it insist on going dormant at some point? So the question is, how long will a runner bean vine grow before it dies and the plant goes dormant?

One nice thing about runner beans is that they can be sown in the spring when the nights are 40F. A bit different from common beans!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2008 at 5:07PM
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Interestingly enough I found one bean on the plant when we were taking plants in the sun room for overwintering.All the three vines are in good shape.Now my question is will these plants develop the tubers since one of them has reached to the state of flowering and fruiting.
I am posting the pic. of the bean for sharing with you.

Pic. of runner bean.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 6:17PM
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My red flowering pole beans have the following problem; the flowers are drying up and dropping off. I cannot see any sign of caterpillars etc. Does anyone have any idea what is happening and why.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 11:13PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

The cause is most likely blossom drop due to heat. Mine are doing the same thing. Runner beans generally will not set pods until temperatures are more moderate (60's-70's F.)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 11:33PM
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I also noticed that my runners do not set pods until bees are active. - Dick

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 11:55AM
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