Dwarf French bean Early Warwick

French beans are an easy crop to grow - even in pots

These versatile, nutrient-rich beans can be cooked whole, or in the case of varieties such as borlotti, dried and podded for their beans. Pods and beans come in lots of lovely colours, with pretty flowers that attract beneficial insects. Climbing French beans can be trained up a wigwam of sticks, while dwarf French beans are perfect for small gardens and are happy in pots.
Growing calendar
Sow indoors Apr-early May
Sow outdoors End May-Jun
Plant out End May-Jun
Harvest Jul-Oct

How to grow French beans

Sow French bean seeds 5cm deep, 15cm apart in rows in a sheltered site, May or early June, when all chance of frost has passed and the soil is warm. Or get a head start indoors, sowing from mid-April and transplanting later. Sow every three weeks for a continuous crop.

Water French bean plants when the pods are swelling (in dry weather). Dwarf French bean plants can be grown in blocks to support each other but you can also use twiggy sticks. Or sow in a container, at least 30cm wide and 45cm deep. Climbing French beans will need the support of a sturdy wigwam or double-row A-frame.

Harvesting and using French beans

Cut pods when they cleanly snap in half. Pick every 2-3 days. For dried beans, leave the pods to go brown and hang the plant upside-down to dry in a shed or dry, dark place. Soak dried beans in water and boil before use.

Tips for growing French beans

French beans are hungry, thirsty crops so mulch the ground around them during the summer to conserve moisture and add nutrients. Slugs love young bean plants, so keep a watchful eye or create barriers!

Saving French bean seeds

The pods should be dried on the vines, but if bad weather threatens, uproot the plants and hang them upside down somewhere warm until the pods are completely dry. French bean seeds should last in cool, dry storage for at least three years.

Growing notes
Difficulty Easy
Germination time 7-14 days
Average time to harvest 8-12 weeks
Equipment needed Canes, sticks, twine
Average plant size 60cm tall (dwarf), 2m (climbing)
Family group to grow with Legumes: broad beans, peas
Latin name Phaseolus vulgaris
Key nutritional content Folate, vitamin C
Seed saving notes Annual, self-pollinating