Broad beans are a popular garden crop that is a favorite of beginner and experienced gardeners alike. There is a wide variety of bean types available to gardeners, each with its own growing requirements. Broad beans are one variety in this family, but how well do these beans grow in containers.
Broad beans can be grown in a container quite easily. Plant dwarf broad beans 6-inches apart in a container at least 6-inches deep. Taller varieties must be planted 9-inches apart in a container at least 9-inches deep. The bean plants must be supported with a stake or other supporting structure.
Container growing makes it possible to grow healthy, nutritious vegetables in space-challenged locations or in areas that are not typically suitable for these crops. Broad beans have many benefits for container growing; they produce a food crop and can benefit other plants as well, but they have certain growing requirements that must be met in the container environment for them to thrive.
Can Broad Beans Be Grown In A Container?
Broad beans are easy to grow and relatively maintenance-free when grown in a container, other than keeping them watered and giving them a support structure.
The broad bean plant’s structure and how it grows pose the greatest challenge for keeping them in containers. This challenge makes the type of container an important choice for growing broad beans.
Fortunately, broad beans come in a few different varieties, from smaller dwarf beans to the typical full-sized plant. This means that you can also choose the type of broad bean variety that best suits the container size you have on hand.
What Container Works Best For Growing Broad Beans?
Plastic, ceramic, or clay containers work well for growing broad beans, also known as fava beans. Almost any container type, including wood containers and raised bed gardening, are also suitable for growing these beans, but the depth of the container and the number of plants it can support is of crucial importance.
Broad beans do not produce a huge crop of beans at one time on each plant, so you need to grow a relatively large number of plants to get a good supply of this food crop. The recommended number of plants to give enough food in a season is 10 plants for each person in your household.
This number may seem quite large, but when you see how easy it is to plant the beans in containers and that you can grow them with other pants, you will realize that this is not a difficult challenge.
Normal broad beans are tall, bushy plants that can reach between 3 and 4.5-feet, or 90cm to 1.3-meters tall. These beans can be grown in a larger container, but you must ensure you do not overcrowd the plants or they do not shade out other smaller plants in the container.
The spacing between full-sized broad bean plants should be 9-inches or about 23cm to give the plant room to grow. This spacing requirement limits the number of plants you can grow in a container.
For smaller containers, the dwarf broad bean that only reaches a height of 12-inches, or about 30cm, would be the preferred variety. The dwarf broad beans can be planted 6-inches apart, allowing you to fit more plants in one container than the standard broad bean variety.
The container for growing dwarf beans should be at least 6-inches deep, while the standard broad beans need a container at least 9-inches deep.
Other plants planted in the same container as the beans will benefit from the nitrogen-fixing ability of bean plants that replenish available nitrogen in the soil. Read our article “What Vegetables Can I Grow Together?” to find out which vegetables grow well when planted together.
Do Broad Beans Need To Be Trellised in A Container?
Broad beans do not have tendrils like other bean and pea plant varieties to cling to structures for support. However, broad beans are fairly tall plants with shallow root systems, and they must be given support to remain upright.
If the beans are exposed to winds, they can easily be blown over and even uprooted. To protect the bean plant and keep it upright, they need structural support, such as a bamboo stake, a trellis, or another plant such as amaranth. If you want to learn about growing amaranth in containers, read our article “Can I Grow Amaranth In A Container.”
The bean plant can be loosely tied to the structure with a piece of twine, or specialized plant ties, to keep it secured to the support structure.
Best Soil For Growing Broad Beans In A Container
The best soil or growing medium for broad beans is a well-draining soil with good organic content. A premium potting mix or a mixture of 1 part topsoil to 1 part well-aged compost and 1 part perlite is the best choice.
Do not give the beans fertilizer high in nitrogen content, as this will promote foliage growth rather than encouraging the beans pods to develop.
If you give a high-nitrogen fertilizer, you should only apply this fertilizer when the seed is planted. Thereafter, a low-nitrogen fertilizer such as worm castings or worm tea, if you prefer a liquid feed.
The Best Time To Plant Broad Beans In A Container
Broad beans are a mild climate plant and prefer to grow in a temperature range of between 65°F or 18°C and 85°F or 29°C.
To get a long growing season, plant your beans in early spring once all chance of frost is past. The bean seeds germinate with good success rates and will germinate in about 10 days. The duration from germination to producing a harvest will be between 12 and 16 weeks.
Succession planting a batch of seeds 2 weeks apart will give you a second crop of beans that will produce two weeks after the first batch.
How To Take Care Of Broad Beans In A Container
Bean plants are nitrogen-fixing plants, which means they replenish the soil’s nitrogen content as they grow. For this reason, you should not plant beans in the same container or growing medium 2 years in a row.
The nitrogen content of the growing medium in the second year would be too rich, and the beans would produce many leaves but not a good crop.
Plant the broad bean seeds 2-inches or 5cm deep, ensuring you stick to the spacing requirements for the variety you are growing. Water the bean seeds well after planting, but do not water again unless the top of the soil becomes dry.
Overwatering the bean seeds will cause the seeds to rot in the soil before they have a chance to germinate.
Once the seedlings have emerged, water the bean plants whenever the potting soil feels dry up to 1-inch below the surface. The watering frequency will depend on your local conditions and how quickly the growing medium dries out.
Broad beans prefer growing in full sun, sheltered from the wind. A sunny patio or balcony is ideal as long as the beans receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day.
This may require the plants are moved around during the day to maximize the light they receive. Broad beans also grow well under grow lights, making it easy to grow them indoors with the right equipment.
When the beans start to produce bean pods, pick the beans from the plants daily. This harvesting method will keep the plants producing beans for longer.
Growing broad beans in a container is easy, and the plants grow well and produce a good harvest. The main consideration for growing these vegetables in a container is to space the plants out correctly and provide them with a support structure as they grow.
Harvest the beans regularly to keep the plants producing throughout the growing season. Rotate your vegetable planting in containers so you do not grow beans in the same soil in successive years.