The gardening and culinary world is blessed with a wide variety of beans. They are nutritious, tasty, low in carbs, and low in fats. And, we’ve got another reason to grow them. Lima beans are easy to grow. While many gardens grow at least two or three kinds of beans, lima beans are not one of them. So, we encourage you to take up the challenge. Learn how to grow lima beans, and plant some in your garden this year.
Lima Beans come in the bush or pole varieties. They are flat, rounded beans with a distinct flavor. Baby Lima Beans are the sweeter of the varieties.
Lima beans can be 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.
Garden Tip: We recommend fencing the plants, even bush varieties. This will keep the pods from touching the ground and rotting.
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 a general-purpose fertilizer.
If you live in warmer parts of the country, plant your first crop as early as possible. Also, you can grow them as a fall crop, after harvesting the first crop.
Note: Fall crops may take several extra days more to reach maturity, due to the declining hours of sunlight, and cooler weather.
Grow Lima Bean plants in full sun. The plants prefer rich, well-draining soil. The plants are heavy feeders. Add compost before 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 the proper distance, as noted on the seed packet. If there are no directions, space plants three inches apart in rows three feet apart.
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 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.
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 any and all of your bean crops. Fencing or pest netting is the most effective control.
More on how to control deer in gardens.
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.
Days to Maturity: Ranges from 65 to 75 days, a little longer for pole varieties.
Pick pods when they bulge. Pick one pod, and open it, to see if the beans are the right size.
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, keep a tarp or blanket handy. Then, cover the crop on nights when the temperature is expected to go below 40 degrees.