- About Dry Beans
- Video: High-Value Crops & Varieties for Your Garden • Tutorial with Niki Jabbour
- About Snap, String & Green Beans | What to Look For
- Types of Beans | Bean Basics From Johnny's Selected Seeds
- Bush Bean Varieties | Comparison Chart (PDF)
- Bean FAQs
- Bush Beans | Key Growing Information
- French Filet Beans | Key Growing Information
- Fresh Shell Beans | Key Growing Information
- Dry Bean | Key Growing Information
- Fava Bean | Key Growing Information
- Lima Bean | Key Growing Information
- Pole Bean | Key Growing Information
- Soybean | Key Growing Information
- Video: How to Grow Bush Beans • From Seed to Harvest
- About Pole Beans | 6 Steps to Success: Select Varieties, Plant Seed & Set Up Your Trellis
"What shall I learn of beans or beans of me?"
Beans are a mainstay of the summer vegetable garden, and a standard at every farmstand. They are an easy-to-grow, multiuse crop with many types and varieties available.
Introductions from bean breeders in recent years offer greater color, yield and, importantly, disease resistance—but best of all, the eating quality of our bean offerings today is better than ever.
One of the most nutrient-dense of all foods, beans are a dietary staple around the world, and deeply rooted in our culinary traditions since ancient times.
In short, we cannot imagine life—even, for many of us, a single growing season—without beans.
Main Types of Beans: How They Grow & When We Eat Them
View all our bean varieties…
Because of their tremendous diversity, beans can be categorized in many different ways. Here are two convenient ways to divide them up.
First, on the basis of their plant habit:
- Bush Beans are mounding types that are low-growing, with a compact plant habit, usually growing to about 1–2 feet high.
- Pole Beans are runner or vining types that can grow very tall, typically requiring some form of trellising.
Second, according to the stage at which they're eaten:
- Snap Beans aka String Beans are eaten fresh, pod and all.
- Fresh Shell Beans are intended to be eaten when the seeds are still young, just full-sized and sweet and starchy, before they start to dry down.
- Dry Beans are eaten after the seeds in the pod have matured and dried out. Shell beans can be allowed to dry on the plant to become dry beans.
Shell Bean to Dry Bean
Pictured above is Flagrano, a multi-purpose fresh shell bean that offers excellent eating quality both when picked early, at the fresh-shell-bean stage, and later at the dry-bean stage. It is easier to shell than the typical Lima bean and is firm and flavorful.
Another shell-to-dry-bean is the Italian cannellini, which is a large, white kidney-shaped bean variety that offers excellent eating quality both when picked early, at the shell-bean stage, and at the dry-bean stage. Slightly nutty with mild earthiness, this bean is relatively thin-skinned, with tender creamy flesh that holds its shape well—a superb choice for traditional dishes such as minestrone, ragoûts, and pasta y fagioli.
And More Beans : Common Subtypes
Here are some definitions and additional details regarding common subtypes of beans.
Snap BeansSnap beans include both bush bean types and pole beans. They are eaten pod and all, when immature, while the pods still have some "snap" to them. Some snap beans are also known as string beans and green beans, but they are not always stringy anymore, thanks to recent breeding developments, and not always green, but may have green or purple pods. (To compare the bushy, mounding types of snap beans, see our Bush Bean Comparison Chart.)
Some Lesser-Known Bean Types
- 'Vroma' is sturdy, less prone to lodging, and more heat tolerant than other favas.
- 'Fordhook 242' is our standard all-time favorite. Tip: The smaller types of baby limas that grow particularly well in the South are often referred to as butter beans.