There’s something incredibly fascinating about opening up a dazzling green bean pod to find shades of hot pink, lavender and red mottled seeds inside.  Crazy really.  In fact, to see children open these beans, scarlet runner beans, is better than opening presents on Christmas day.  Better because the contents are an unthinkable surprise.

“And it grew like this?” A perfectly, well behaved child will stop at nothing to have and hold these beans.  Suddenly becoming secretive and desperate.  If only advertisers could find a way to bottle the chemical reaction between human and runner bean, they would hold the purse strings (and hearts) of the world.

From beginning to end these beans are gems, truly a bit of garden treasure.  They’re easy to grow, an obvious go-to plant for vertical gardening (any fence or other structure will do), and a hummingbird invitation spelled, “G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S!”  Followed by, “Red flowers over here!”  Wrap that up with terrific flavor, not unlike other beans you might grow, and how could a gardener go wrong?

How to Grow:

  • Sow directly in the ground after the last frost.  Germination success can be increased if seeds are started on a wet paper towel.  Place in soil once rooting.
  • Seed 1″ deep and 3″ apart and thin 4″ to 6″ apart when young plants are about 2″ to 3″ tall.
  • Germination occurs in 7 to 14 days.
  • Can grow 10′ to 20′ tall.
  • Harvest beans regularly to promote flowering.

Interesting tidbits:

  • Eat young pods directly off the vine.
  • Cook mature beans.  Steam, saute or roast as green beans.  Or cook and eat just the beans.  (Substitute runner beans into any of your other favorite bean recipes.)
  • Try adding the flowers and young pods to salads.
  • Unlike most other beans, Scarlet Runner’s are perennial (however they will die back to the ground or completely with a hard frost).
  • Like other legumes, they’re nitrogen fixing and great for soil.
  • Attract both butterflies and hummingbirds.
  • Native to the highlands of Mexico.

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