Vegetables > Runner Beans

Reader q&a on runner bean problems:

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I decided to fill the space left in my green house with runner bean plants. They have grown very well, look healthy and are flowering daily. But when the flower dies back it just drops off completely from the main stalk leaving no bean. They are watered daily and the greenhouse door is opened during the day for ventilation. I would be grateful for any advice.

The Green Chronicle replies...

This is not all that an uncommon problem. It is usually worse in hot and dry seasons, so it may be that your greenhouse is just too hot for the plants at the moment. You could try watering even more, mulching around the base of the plants to conserve what water you do give them, and opening all the ventilation in your greenhouse all of the time. There is a chance that sparrows or bumblebees are actually destroying your flowers, but given that you are growing in a greenhouse I tend to think it is the extreme micro-climate which is causing your problems. If you want to grow beans in a greenhouse, a French climbing bean would probably be better; or you could try lots more moisture-retaining compost under the plants if you do the same with runner beans next year. On the plus side you might just find that if you cut the runner bean down to the ground rather than pulling out the roots, and cover it with a thick straw mulch for the winter, it could come back next year - of course you might not want a runner that doesn't produce beans.


My runner beans this year have been splendid, lots of really healthy vigorous growth and the most flowers we have ever seen. Unfortunately very few of the flowers have become beans and although we have some beans its nothing like as many as we have had other years with about one tenth of the flowers. The only different thing we did this year was to compost the bean site in January whereas before I am ashamed to say we left them pretty much alone. Apart from feeding once or twice with phostrogen, just the same as we have done other years. The flowers are just dropping. Is it because they haven't been fertilized or is their something more sinister going on. We have seen quite a few wasps around the flowers this year.

Any advice would be appreciated.

The Green Chronicle replies...

if anything digging in compost should have helped your beans, and may be the reason why you have any beans at all. I guess - not knowing what your year has been like - that you have had a hot and dry time of it. Runner bean setting is always worse in such seasons. Try to keep the plants better watered and don't forget that if even one bean on a plant reaches maturity that will be the end of flowering for that year. By the way, although sparrows and bumble bees are often implicated in the destruction of runner flowers, wasps are normally reckoned to be a gardener's allies until August.

If you have any questions on Runner Bean plants, e-mail us and we may be able to help!