Bush Beans vs Pole Beans: Which One Should I Grow?

Hands hold some freshly harvest green beans
Beans At-A-Glance
Deciding between bush beans vs pole beans? Learn about the differences and which one may be best for your gardening needs.

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If you’ve been scouring garden websites or staring at seed packets, you’ve probably noticed that green beans are called bush beans vs pole beans. Both are green beans and delicious, but they do have some differences.

Are bush beans the same as green beans?

Yes, but so are pole beans! Both fall under the green bean umbrella. 

A bush bean plant grows in the garden

What’s the difference between bush beans vs pole beans?

Pole bean plants grow incredibly high. Different varieties may reach as high as 10-15 feet! They don’t take up a lot of space in your garden because they grow up instead of out. Most folks grow them up a trellis or pole (hence the name) to take advantage of the vertical space and make harvesting easy.

On the other hand, bush bean plants typically stop growing at two feet in height, and their growth habit is more compact, so they grow into a bushy plant instead of a tall vine. While bush beans can be easier to grow because they need less support, their harvest usually comes all at once, leaving you with a massive amount of beans. On the other hand, pole beans continue to produce beans as their vines grow. Pole beans are a good choice if you’re looking for a steady supply of beans for fresh eating throughout the summer.

Are pole beans or bush beans better?

It depends on what you’re looking for! Here’s how to tell whether to plant bush beans vs pole beans:

Choose pole beans if:

  • You want to sow all your bean seeds at once, and have continuous harvests. Pole beans will put out a steady supply of beans.
  • You are working with a smaller space—pole beans don’t have a large footprint, since they grow up instead of out!
  • Your vegetable garden is in-ground.
  • You want a higher yield of beans—you can expect around two pounds of beans per plant. 

Choose bush beans if:

  • You want to harvest your beans all at once, which can be great if you are trying to can or otherwise preserve beans for the winter. You can also stagger your bush bean plantings to space out your bean harvests.
  • You are planting in raised beds or containers—pole beans can be hard to reach in taller garden plantings!
  • You don’t want too big of a harvest that will leave you overwhelmed with beans—bush beans produce about 1/2 pound of beans per plant versus the 2 pound cumulative harvests of pole beans.
  • You don’t want to worry about trellises or other support systems.

Bean vines climb up a trellis

Do bush beans keep producing?

They do, if your growing season is long enough! Bush beans tend to put out all their beans at once, but once you harvest them, you may be able to get a second round out of them before the frost hits.

What is the best-tasting bush bean?

We’ll always suggest that you chat with your local master gardeners group, seed store, or gardening experts in your area to find the best bean varieties for your unique microclimate. That being said, here are some of our favorite bush varieties for the Growfully Gardens.

  • Provider (bush)—This classic snap bean is our absolutely favorite traditional bush green bean. It lives up to its name—providing bushels and bushels of tender, crisp, bright green beans! It’s great for fresh eating, freezing, and canning. We’ll never be without it in our gardens.
  • Dragon’s Tongue (bush)—This Romano-type “green” bean isn’t really green at all! It’s long, thick, flat, and speckled with purple and white splotches that turn green when cooked.
  • Cherokee Wax (bush)—Wax style beans are typically yellow in color (making them way easy to harvest) and have a soft, waxy texture. This open-pollinated heirloom is one of our favorites.

What are the best pole bean varieties?

It’s widely accepted that the flavor of pole beans is far superior to bush beans (although some bush bean cultivars are catching up). Pole beans tend to be more tender, sweet, and starchy. We love:

  • Kentucky Wonder (Old Homestead) (pole)—This common bean heirloom variety has stuck around for good reason. The long, stringless pods are tender and delicious when young.
  • Blue Lake Stringless Bean (pole)—Blue Lake is an heirloom that produces heavily! The pods are packed with full green beanflavor.

Want to know more about growing green beans?

Learn everything you need to know about green beans, including when and where to plant, how to deal with pests, what to do about crop rotation, and what kind of mulch to use in our master guide to growing green beans.

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Cassie is a Certified Master Gardener and the founder of Growfully. She's been gardening organically for over two decades, and she's so excited to answer all the questions you have about gardening!
Meet Cassie
Meet Your Guide

Hi! My name is Cassie.

I’m a Certified Master Gardener and founder of Growfully. I’ve been gardening organically for over two decades, and I’m so excited to answer all the questions you have about gardening!

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