Green beans have two major different types defined by their growth habits, bush beans and pole beans. There are many varieties of green beans with different colors and shapes in both categories. The thing that distinguishes green beans from other beans is that green beans are harvested and eaten with their enclosing pod.
Green beans go by many different names. Snap beans are green beans that are any other color than green including purple, red, blue, with one exception, green beans with yellow colored pods are called wax beans. String beans are green beans with a fibrous string that runs down the length of the pod. This is found in heirloom varieties of green beans and this feature has been bred out of many modern green bean varieties.
Difference Between Bush Beans and Pole Beans
Bush green beans grow to about two feet tall and produce beans in a short window of 3 weeks or so. They do not require support or a trellis. Bush green beans are the type most commonly grown by commercial farmers because of the concentrated producing time, ease of harvesting, and difficulty in setting up trellises for pole beans.
Pole beans grow up to 20 feet long and require support or a trellis to climb up. They produce over a longer time around 6-8 weeks. Bush beans will start to produce a week or two before pole beans.
Bush beans are a good choice for a gardener wanting to can or freeze beans because of their concentrated harvest time. They also will give beans a week or two earlier in the season. Pole beans are usually the gardeners choice because they produce for longer and yield more beans per space used. Also there are more varieties of pole beans to choose from.
What Are Haricots Verts?
Haricots verts, also known as french green beans or filet green beans, are skinny tender green beans. Haricots verts means green beans in French and in France all green beans are called haricots verts and the skinny beans we call haricots verts are called haricots verts filets. Haricots verts have a beany flavor that is not present in other varieties of green beans picked while young and skinny.
What Are Italian Green Beans?
Italian green beans, also known as romano beans, are wide and flat and come in bush or vining varieties. Italian green beans can be cooked slightly and remain crunchy or cooked until tender.
Yardlong beans earn their name by growing up to 3 feet long, although 1.5 feet is the ideal size to harvest. Also known as Chinese long beans or asparagus beans they are a pole variety of green beans that grow about 8 feet long and will do better with support or a trellis.
Baguio beans are what they call green beans in the Phillipines. Baguio is a mountainous city in the Phillipines that has lower temperatures than the surrounding valleys. Its cool temperatures make it great for growing baguio beans and a hotspot in the summer!
What Are Wax Beans?
Wax beans are green beans that have yellow pods. The pods are yellow because they do not produce chlorophyll like pods that are green. The origin of the name wax bean is not clear but might come from being a similar color to bees wax.
Hyacinth Bean Plant
Hyacinth bean plants are ornamental pole beans with beautiful pink and purple flowers and bean pods. Hyacinth beans are eaten in some parts of the world however the preparation is tricky. If cooked incorrectly they can be poisonous causing stomach pain and vomiting. Here is an article with lots of information on hyacinth bean plants.
Best Green Beans to Plant
- Bush Beans
- Blue Lake 274 – This is a heavy yielding bush bean with a short producing period that makes it ideal for canning and freezing.
- Romano Bush – This is a heavy yielding Italian green bean variety with the characteristic broad flat pods.
- Bush Kentucky Wonder – A popular variety that is known to be a good producer and adaptable to most regions.
- Beananza – This is a french filet variety green bean developed by Burpee. It’s a very small plant only growing to about 15 inches in height.
- Purple Queen – This bush bean has purple pods and is an early producer with good disease and cold weather resistantce.
- Big Kahuna – This is another variety developed by Burpee and this will produce the largest beans of any bush type plant with beans around 12 inches long.
- Cherokee Wax – This is a yellow pod variety that produces black beans. It is an all-purpose variety that is good fresh or for freezing and canning.
- Pole Beans
- Rattlesnake Pole – This heirloom variety produces green pea pods with purple streaks that make for a beautiful pod. The pods will grow 8-12 inches long. It does well with heat and sandy soils but will grow in many regions.
- Yardlong Bean – This variety produces a bean pod that is anywhere from 1.5-3 feet long! This plant attracts lots of pollinators that are a benefit to any garden.
- Kentucky Wonder Pole – A popular heirloom variety that is a heavy yielder and adaptable to many areas of the country. Produces a good all-purpose bean with a dark green pod good for fresh eating, freezing and canning, or to let mature and harvest for shell beans.
- Emerite – Heavy yielding filet style bean that comes from one of the oldest French breeders.
- Fortex – A popular long round style green bean that produces 6-11″ tender green pods.
- Purple King – A purple podded variety that produces beautiful uniform 5-6″ purple snap beans.
- Navarro – An Italian bean producing plant with healthy fleshy pods.
- Rocdor – A good producing wax bean with a yellow pod.
- Cherokee Trail of Tears – Produces six inch long purple pods with dark black seeds.
- Grandma Nellie’s Yellow Mushroom – Wax beans with yellow pods that grow to around 6″ long and get their name from having a similar taste to mushrooms.
- Louisiana Purple Pod – A pretty plant with purple green vines and pink and purple flowers. It produces 6 inch purple pods that turn green when cooked.