experience with Scarlet Runner Beans

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.
Guy Bradley Chesterfield MO zone 6
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says...

(Zone 5).
While I'd heard that the blooms were sufficient to grow the plant just as an ornamental, I wasn't that impressed. Yes the blooms are pretty, but they're not that large or that numerous.

may have gotten different varieties as mine weren't all that flat. I won't plant them again. I'll use the space for more Northeaster pole beans. Now there's one that stays tender at 8-12 inches :-).
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On Mon, 20 Oct 2003 09:31:48 -0500, "Guy Bradley"

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.
Pat
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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 Europe.
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I think you must have your beans mixed up.
The name "Scarlet Runner" is the name that applies to phaseolus coccineus. Phaselos from greek for bean and coccineus is 'scarlet' in Latin..
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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.
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Sorry I misunderstood you. What you wrote was confusing.
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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
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Scarlet Runner beans, very popular in UK, as you say they don't like the intense heat. 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

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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 seed. 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
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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.
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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.
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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 apparent.
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.
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wrote in message wrote

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.
s.
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Older gardeners round here advice that to improve bean set, hose lightly at dusk to cool them.
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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 'root'. 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
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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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The flowers of scarlet runner beans are edible and can be used in salads and other culinary creations. Just a thought the next time you have tons of flowers on the bean plants.
Take care,
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Lynn Smythe
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