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How to Grow Lima Beans

Lima Beans come in bush or pole varieties. They are a flat, rounded bean with a distinct flavor. Baby Lima Beans are the sweeter of the varieties.

Lima beans  can e eaten raw or cooked. They are sometimes called "butter beans". They got this name, because they are a tasty treat on your dinner plate, smothered in butter....hold the salt. Fresh Lima beans are also good in salads and soups.

Growing Lima Beans is easy. But, we recommend fencing the plants, even bush varieties.

Days to Maturity:

Ranges from 65 to 75 days, a little longer for pole varieties.

Sowing Lima Bean Seeds:

Plant bean seeds outdoors after the last frost date for your area. Follow the seed spacing directions on the packet. Plant spacing can vary by type of Lima Bean. Bean seeds are big, making them easy to space.

Water well after planting, and a second time two to four days later, if there has been no rain. You can also side dress the rows with general purpose fertilizer.

If you live in warmer parts of the country, plant your first crop as early as possible. You can also grow a fall crop, after harvesting the first one.

Note: Fall crops may take several extra days more to reach maturity, due to the declining hours of sunlight, and cooler weather.

How to Grow Lima Bean Plants:

Grow Lima Bean plants in full sun. The plants prefer rich, well draining soil. The plants are heavy feeders. Add compost prior to planting. Apply a side dressing of fertilizer, to give these plants a fast start, as soon as they germinate.

Ideal soil pH: 6.0 - 7.5   More on soil pH

Thin seedlings to proper distance, as noted on the seed packet. If there are no directions, space plants three inches apart in rows three feet apart.

Also See:

Plant Problems

Soil Temperatures - Ideal germination temperature by vegetable

Ideal Soil pH - by vegetable

Even bush varieties of Lima Beans benefit from some type of support. Fences, trellis,  poles, or netting should be provided in sufficient height for maximum growth, and to keep pods off the ground. Pest Netting works well as a plant support, too. Set up the netting like a fence.

For maximum growth and harvest, water frequently, especially during dry periods. Try to keep the leaves dry as you water. This will help avoid fungus diseases.

Apply a general purpose fertilizer once a month during the season.

Keep beans well weeded all season long.

Harvesting Lima Beans:

Pick pods when they bulge. Pick one pod, and open it, to see if the beans are the right size.

Insects and Pests:

Lima beans are susceptible to a variety of insects, most notably beetles. They can be effectively treated with Sevin, or a variety of other insecticides.

Bunnies love beans! Rabbits eat the tender new leaves. If there are rabbits in your area, a rabbit fence is not a nicety, it is a necessity. They will devastate a row of beans in a hurry, eating the tender new leaves. As new ones develop, they will come back for more.

More on  control of rabbits in the garden.

Deer love to nip leaves of beans. If deer are a problem in your area, they will be a problem with your any and all of your bean crops. Fencing or pest netting is the most effective control.

 More on how to control deer in gardens.

Plant Disease:

Lima Bean plants seem to bean little less susceptible to plant disease than other beans. But, it can still happen, especially in wet, humid weather.

Bacterial and wilt diseases are common among the Bean family. This plant disease arrives with summer heat and humidity. This often occurs just before, or during, the ripening of the crop. Fungicides are recommended in areas of high heat and humidity.

Tip: Keep the leaves dry and allow more spacing between plants for better air circulation.


Bean plants are not hardy. They are susceptible to cold and frost. Hold off planting until a few days before all danger of frost is past. In the fall, cover the crop on nights when the temperature is expected to go below 40 degrees.

Recipes and Cooking Lima Beans:

Lima beans can be eaten fresh or cooked.

Lima beans freeze well. Like other vegetables, they need to be blanched prior to freezing.

Blanching times for Lima Beans

Lima Bean Tomato Casserole

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