When considering planting beans, you’ll encounter the debate of pole beans vs bush beans.

These two bean varieties have very distinct growth habits. Bush beans are compact plants that produce all their beans at once, while pole beans are climbing vines that produce throughout the growing season.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of each so you can decide which one is best for you and your garden space.

should you gor pole beans or bush beans? learn which is best for your garden. photos of green beans and red swan bush beans.
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POLE BEANS

 

The Pros of Growing Pole Beans

 

You Can Experience Something New

The beans you find at the store—both canned and fresh—are typically bush beans. That’s because it’s easier for farmers to grow a lot of beans when they’re small, easy-to-manage plants, not long, sprawling vines that take over their entire field. If you want to experience the incredible flavor of pole beans, you’ll likely have to grow them yourself.

You can also find many different heirloom types of beans to grow since the original beans were climbers.

Pole Types Look Beautiful on Garden Trellises

Pole beans grow quickly and really cover a trellis with their attractive leaves and gorgeous little flowers. 

Pole Beans Just Keep Producing

This bean type will produce a slow but continuous supply of pods until the end of the growing season (the arrival of heat or frost). 

The Cons of Growing Pole Beans

You Must Have Some Type of Trellis to Grow Pole Beans

Pole beans are vigorous climbers that can grow anywhere from 5 to 15 feet tall, so you do need to give them some type of vertical structure to support their growth. Otherwise, the vines are going to spread out and take up much more space than needed. 

You don’t necessarily have to have a metal garden trellis, though I certainly recommend them. Your vertical support options also include things like bamboo poles, wooden garden teepees and cattle panel trellises. 

Pole Beans Need a Longer Period of Time to Produce

Your climbing bean plant will need to grow much larger than its bush counterpart before it can produce. You’ll typically have to wait about 60 to 70 days, though you’ll then enjoy a steady production of beans over the next couple of months. 

Pole Beans Require a Bit More Maintenance

We’re not only talking about bigger plants here, but also plants that will spend much longer in your garden overall. That adds up to more maintenance from us as the home gardeners to keep everything healthy. 

You’ll need to prune and help train the vines up the trellis on a weekly basis. Use twine to secure the vines to the trellis as needed so that your plants feel secure and continue to produce. If a vine reaches the top of its support, you can either train the vines to come back the other way or pinch off the tip. 

Once your plants are in peak production, you’ll need to harvest every couple of days to encourage your plants to keep producing for you. 

pole beans growing up fencing

BUSH BEANS

 

The Pros of Growing Bush Beans

 

You Can Grow a Ton of Bush Beans in a Small Space

Bush bean plants are ideal for small gardens, even sunny patio gardens. They just need a little bit of space to spread out side to side, so you can really pack these plants into your garden. 

I love to plant bush beans in empty spots of my garden. They also make excellent cover crops for your soil. 

Bush Beans Are Fast Producers

Most bush bean varieties can produce an abundant harvest in just 50 to 60 days, which makes them ideal for squeezing into shorter growing seasons or for succession planting

Bush Beans Don’t Need Support Structures

Most bush varieties only grow a couple of feet tall, so you don’t have to worry about growing them near a trellis of any sort. If your plants ever need more support, you can just hold them upright with some garden stakes and twine. 

The Cons of Growing Bush Beans

 

Bush Beans Don’t Taste Quite as Delicious as Pole Beans

You might find you prefer the flavor of the pods from a pole bean plant to a bush bean. 

Bush Beans Are Overall Less Productive

You’ll harvest fewer beans from each bush bean plant, but you’ll get your bean harvest all at once. If you want a continuous supply of beans, you can succession plant every couple of weeks until you’re 2 months out from your first anticipated frost date. 

Bush Beans Are More Prone to Disease

The lush leafy canopy of a bush bean plant is really good at trapping moisture, so bush beans are more prone to diseases like powdery mildew than pole beans. One of the major benefits to growing plants on a trellis is holding the leaves up so that you can get plenty of air circulation around them. 

contender bush beans growing

THE VERDICT: POLE BEANS VS BUSH BEANS

 

I actually love growing both types in my kitchen garden. If you’re still deciding, there are really just two questions you should ask yourself. 

Do You Have Room for a Support Structure?

The main difference is really size, so the most important consideration is whether you have enough garden space available to add maybe an obelisk trellis or a cattle panel somewhere. If yes, I’d go with pole beans. They’ll quickly cover your structure in beautiful green foliage.

How Do You Want Your Bean Harvest?

With bush varieties, you’ll get a large harvest all at once. When a plant is done producing, you can pull it and replace it with a fresh round of bush beans or with something else.  

With pole varieties, you’ll get a handful of fresh green beans every couple of days over a long period. This is ideal if you love tossing some beans into a salad bowl, but it’s not great if you’re planning on making a dish that requires pounds of beans. 

MY FAVORITE POLE VARIETIES TO GROW

 

There are many different varieties of pole beans that you can choose for your garden.

Some of my favorite types to grow on my trellises include: 

 

  • Kentucky Wonder – excellent choice for green beans (green beans, by the way, are just snap beans or string beans harvested before they’re fully ripe) 
  • Rich Purple Pods – dark purple beans packed with antioxidants 
  • Yard Long Noodle King – 12- to 18-inch-long green beans that grow well in  heat, perfect for hot summers

MY FAVORITE BUSH VARIETIES TO GROW

 

Here are some of the best varieties of bush beans to grow: 

 

red swan bush beans growing

Fresh, delicious beans are a gardener’s delight, but the choice between pole beans vs bush beans can be tricky.

No matter which time you grow, your fresh beans from the garden will be a real treat. Bush type or pole, they’ll taste so much better than the ones from the store. 

Beans are a great plant to grow if you’re a beginner gardener. They grow fast, they’re low-maintenance, and they’ll give you delicious pod after pod. Learn more about growing beans, including when to plant them and how much to water them. 

So let us know in the comments below which type you’re more excited to grow and if you have any questions.