Bush or snap beans are a popular plant for the Florida vegetable garden. They're easy to grow, even in poor soil. As the name implies, bush beans grow on a bush that is able to stand unsupported, unlike pole beans. Bush beans can be either snap beans (formerly called string beans because of their fibrous pods) or shell beans.
Pick Florida-friendly Varieties
'Bush Blue Lake', 'Contender', 'Roma II', 'Provider', and 'Cherokee Wax' (a yellow wax type) are some great snap varieties for Florida gardens. If you're interested in growing shell beans, try 'Horticultural', 'Pinto', 'Red Kidney', 'Black Bean', or 'Navy' varieties.
Planting and Care
Use seeds for growing bush beans, as transplants do not do well. Seeds should be sown 1–2 inches into the soil in rows 18–30 inches apart. When sowing your seeds, keep in mind that you want about 2–3 inches between each plant. Soaking your seeds before planting is not necessary and could actually hurt germination; too much moisture will cause seeds to crack and germinate poorly.
Deciding when to plant your bush beans will vary greatly based on your location. Take a look at the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide to determine when to plant in your area.
As with all new plants, irrigation is an important part of growing successful beans. Keep the soil consistently moist until your seeds sprout. Then water whenever you notice the soil surface has dried out. Be careful when weeding. Because bean plants have weak root systems, shallow cultivation is best for controlling nuisance plants.
Beans will grow well in your garden or a container; just make sure they're in a location where they will receive at least eight hours of full sun every day. Fertilize your bush beans at half the rate used for other vegetables.
Harvesting Your Bush Beans
Your beans should be ready for harvest after about 50–60 days. Harvest mature beans regularly to keep your plants producing. Snap beans should be harvested while the pods are still tender. Shell beans can be harvested green (for immediate use) or dry. You can leave them to dry on the plant or pull whole vines off to dry indoors; wait until the leaves have turned yellow. The seed pods will start to split open as they dry and the seeds can be easily removed.
For more information on growing bush beans, contact your county Extension office.