I thought the group might be interested in my experience this year
with Scarlet Runner Beans. I grew these for the first time this year,
more intriqued by the flowers actually than by the beans. I treated
them like pole beans.
During the hot summer months, the beans grew and flowered, but set no
beans. Had I not been so lazy, I would have pulled them out for lack
of productivity. But the flowers are so pretty!
Finally, about a month ago, definitely in the cool of fall, the plants
began to bear beans! They are continuing to bear even now - we haven't
had a frost yet, remarkably. The crop is never heavy, but continuous.
The beans themselves are flattish, like an Italian bean. The range of
sizes is incredible - some are only a few inches long and some grow to
a foot long. No matter how big we let them get, they still cook up
tender and tasty. Actually, the taste is better than expected - some
references said the beans were mediocre as green beans. I haven't let
any of them mature as dry beans.
If anyone has experience with Scarlet Runner Beans, perhaps you can
shed some light on this behavior, which I regard as unusual for beans.
They're very popular in the UK, which usually isn't as hot
in summer as most of the USA.
I grew them only once, a long time ago, when I lived in
Alberta, Canada. I was not very impressed by their taste,
but maybe they've been improved since then. This was about
25 years ago.
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Thr Scarlet Runner has been in this country for a long time, but mostly grown
as an onamental. There are other cultivars of runner beans, Phaseolus coccineus
,that are improved as far as production is concerned. All that I have
encountered do not set well in hot weather. They prefer climate like northern
Not really! The Scarlet Runner is a cultivar of P. coccineus ( runner beans).
Others include Hammond, Goliath, Prize Winner, Painted Lady, White Dutch Runner
, ... The point is that it has different climatic requirements from the common
varieties of pole , bush, shell, beans which are cultivars of P. vugaris.
The Scarlet Runner has in the USA for a long time but mostly grown as an
ornamental. There are newer varieties of runner beans, P. coccineus, that are
more productive, All of them that I tried do not set well in warm climates,
prefering a climate akin to England, Northern Europe. They are different from
pole beans, P. vulgaris which seems more adaptable to U.S. climates
Scarlet Runner beans, very popular in UK, as you say they don't like the
We grow them every year here in the Niagara Peninsula, Ontario.
Best if picked on a regular basis, if left too long on the plant they will
be stringy, meaning a tough strings each join side of bean must be removed
during preparation to each, top and tail bean remove any strings , and
french "slice about 1/2 slices on the diagonal" drop slices into salted
cold water bring to boil and cook till just tender, drain and serve.
First frost will finish plants, ours have just finished, :-(((( jblts
While we're on the subject of Scarlet Runner Beans...
I grew them for 2 or 3 years bout 20 years ago. There are varieties that
have been selected for tender very edible beans. They produced a steady
crop of beans all summer (once they started).
I'm writing because I read that these runner beans actually produce a
tuber and would be perennial where the ground doesn't freeze. I believe
I read that these tubers could be saved and replanted in the spring to
produce a faster growing plant next year compared to starting over from
Does anyone know about this? If not, maybe one of you could dig up a
plant after frost kills it and see if there really is a tuber down there.
Steve in the Adirondacks
They are also called Seven Year Beans. They are perennial but I don't know
if from a tuber or not and I wouldn't dig one up as they are simply left in
the same place and come up again the next year. As you say, this applies to
where the ground doesn't freeze, but they are also a better cold climate
bean than the French Bush bean.
This is true. We're on our fourth year of automatic beans. I don't know if
it's botanically a tuber; it looks like a big woody potato peeking out of the
ground. We have never dug them up. That might be a little risky, but if you're
in a climate witth freezes in winter you have nothing to lose by trying.
My parents have been growing scarlet runners for about 35 years. In Winter
the plants die down to ground level, and come up again each year. Well,
there does seem to be a bit of a loss, with 1 or 2 out of 10 failing to
re-emerge. These can be replaced by planting a few seeds where gaps become
In a hot climate, they flower but fruit does not set until the worst of
the mid-summer heat abates. I found that watering them morning and evening
would encourage fruit set. It's amazing with the ground always wet that
there are not problems with root rot, but the soil there is very sandy and
drains well. I also put some water-retaining crystals near the roots in
an attempt to reduce the need for constant watering. As other posters
have pointed out, they really are are a cool-climate plant.
They are so-named because of the bright red flowers, but even hardier
and better bearing are the white-flowered variety. The beans are
indentical, just that their flowers are white. Scarlet runner beans don't
have the flavour of, for example, Blue Lake, but my Mum keeps growing the
scarlet runners because they bear just at a time when the dwarf beans are
finishing. Also, she gives a lot away to neighbours and some of them
actually prefer the flavour of the scarlet runners.
John Savage (news address invalid; keep news replies in newsgroup)
Here in U.K. I've found that our runner beans are more tender and have a
better flavour than, say, yellow wax beans, or ordinary bush beans, and with
no string if you pick them young. They taste especially nice if you use one
of those Krisk shredders that reduces them to thin strings.
When they get old, you can use the dried beans to plant for next year, but
I've tried using them in cooking the way you would, say, lima beans, however
they don't have a lot of flavour.
Our summers are probably cooler than in the U.S. or Canada, but it helps the
bean pods to set if you spray the flowers with water - or, even better, mist
them with sugar water, to attract bees to pollinate them.
They don't have a tuberous root, like a potato, just a root that gets rather
large and stumpy and may be mistaken for a tuber. Our beans never survive
our winters and have to be planted afresh every year.
Yes Runners do like to be hosed down, to pretend it's rain like in UK.
Every one I know grows them in UK and no one speaks of tubers in the ground
or to say automatic plants.
My husband say's when he pulls our up at the end of the season, it is just
But we do save some of the actual beans from one year to the next for
growing. We never eat them as a bean from inside the pod. qahtan
wrote in message
I foget to mention that Scarlet Runners are supposed to do better (set more
beans) if the soil is innoculated. Find someone who has grown them for
years and beg a few handfuls of soil to add to where you will grow them.
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