Runner Bean - Scarlet Emperor


Phaseolus coccineus

HEIRLOOM. Vining plants produce decorative scarlet flowers grown as often for their appeal as for the tasty meaty beans. Fat, slightly fuzzy 12" pods are filled with rich, savory flavored beans that dry to a gorgeous lavender and black mottled seed. Give them a trellis in a prominent location. 
  • Planting Information
  • Growing Information
  • Seed Saving
Packet weight
Approx. seeds/ packet
Bulk packet weight
Approx. seeds/ bulk packet
21 g
Planting SeasonIdeal Soil TempSunFrost Tolerance
After Last Frost75-90°FFull SunFrost Sensitive
Sowing MethodSeed DepthDirect Seed SpacingDays to sprout
Direct Seed1"2-3"8-16
Mature SpacingDays to harvestProduction CycleSeed Viability
Annual3-6 years

Most beans are sensitive to cold and cannot tolerate frost, so we plant directly outside in spring when there's no longer a risk of frost. For many areas, this will be in mid- to late-spring. Runner beans can be planted when the soil temperature reaches 60 F. Runner beans need full sun to grow properly and produce the highest yields, so choose a garden bed that gets lots of exposure throughout the day. 

The ideal soil pH for beans is between 6 and 6.5. They also need well-draining soil that’s been enriched with organic matter. Combine a well-draining soil, such as silt or loam, with aged compost. If your soil is clay-like, amend with rotted straw, shredded leaves, manure, or shredded bark to help it drain better.

Because runner beans grow tall, they need a support to grow on. It’s easiest to build the support before planting, and this will prevent damage to the beans and roots. The best supports for pole beans include trellises, teepees or pyramids, poles, chicken wire, or large tomato cages. Whatever you choose for a climbing structure, be sure to put them somewhere you will enjoy runner beans profusions of beautiful flowers!

Use your hands or a spade to build up the soil into long rows that are 30 inches apart. Poke a 1-inch deep hole for each bean, and space the beans 4 inches apart. Place a bean in each hole, eye down, and cover it loosely with soil.

During active growing periods like sprouting and producing pods, the beans will need sufficient water to grow. Keep the soil evenly moist when you first plant the beans and when they start developing pods. Make sure they get about an inch of water per week.

Adding a layer of mulch to the top of the soil will help the soil retain moisture, regulate temperature, and protect the seedlings. When the seedlings develop their second set of leaves, add a 3-inch layer of mulch to the top of the garden bed.

The first bean pods should be ready for harvest around 75 days after planting. If you harvest the pods every couple of days as they mature, the plants will continue producing pods (and flowers!) for several weeks or more.

Harvest beans from dry plants to prevent the spread of bacteria. If necessary, wait until the late morning or early afternoon so morning dew has dried.

Bean- Runner, Phaseolus coccineus

Pollination, self; Life Cycle, annual; Isolation Distance, 50 feet

Cross-pollination is rare with beans, but it is prudent to not grow different varieties next to each other to avoid the risk. Earmark a couple of plants at the beginning of the season for seed saving. To encourage optimal pod development, water very little and don't feed the seed plants, nor pick any pods from them to eat. At the very end of the season, pick the pods when they have turned crisp and brown. Some varieties will shatter –meaning the pod will split open to disperse the seeds- so keep an eye on your seeds' progress and harvest accordingly. With smaller varieties, the whole bush can be uprooted and hung upside-down for drying. The seed inside the pod should be hard. Dry the pods in a well-ventilated place, clean and winnow, and store.