How to Successfully Grow Lima Beans: A Guide to Growing and Caring for Lima Beans at Home


If you are a beginner’s vegetable gardener and want to know how to grow an eye-catching and productive crop, then growing lima beans is a recommended option. Lima beans, also known as butter beans, are tender and delicious and are a great addition to any kitchen. They are versatile in their uses and can be used in soups, stews, salads, and side dishes, making them a popular choice among home gardeners.

Lima beans require special care and attention, especially when it comes to planting and watering. They are frost-sensitive plants, so it is important to plant them after the last frost date in spring and harvest them before the first frost in fall. Lima beans have a long growing season and need a frost-free period of approximately 90 to 100 days to mature.

When planting lima beans, it is recommended to provide them with well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. They prefer full sun but can tolerate some shade. To optimize growth, space the seeds about 3 to 4 inches apart, either in rows or in hills. If you have limited space, you can also grow them on a pole or a tepee formation, which is a compact and efficient way of growing lima beans.

Watering is an important aspect of lima bean care. They require regular watering, especially during dry spells, to prevent stress and maintain optimal plant growth. Aim to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot and other diseases. Be careful not to overwater as this can cause the seeds to rot before they can germinate.

Fertilizer requirements for lima beans are generally minimal, as they are legumes and can fix nitrogen from the air. However, if your soil is lacking in nutrients, you can apply a balanced fertilizer at the time of planting and again when the plants start to flower. Additionally, lima beans benefit from a layer of mulch to regulate soil temperature and prevent weed growth.

When it comes to troubleshooting common problems with growing lima beans, pests can sometimes be an issue. Beetles, aphids, and whiteflies are the main culprits that can damage the foliage and reduce the yield. To control these pests, you can use organic pest control methods such as handpicking, spraying with insecticidal soap, or introducing beneficial insects. Regular pruning of the foliage can also help with pest management.

When the lima bean pods begin to form, they will start out green and gradually turn yellow. Harvest the lima beans when the pods are fully yellow and the beans are plump. To save the seeds for future planting, allow the pods to dry on the plant until they are brown and crisp. Then, remove the seeds from the pods and store them in an airtight container.

Overall, growing lima beans can be a rewarding experience for any gardener, whether you are a beginner or have years of experience. With the right care and attention, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of these nutritious and delicious legumes that will enhance your meals and improve your gardening skills.

Lima Bean

Lima bean, commonly known as the butter bean, is a versatile vegetable. It is a type of bean that can be grown in almost all climates and is easy to plant and harvest. Lima beans belong to the Phaseolus genus and are also sometimes called “butter beans” due to their creamy texture when cooked.

What sets lima beans apart from other types of beans is their unique flavor and texture. They have a rich, buttery taste and a creamy texture that makes them a popular choice for soups, stews, and side dishes. Lima beans come in different varieties, including the larger Fordhook limas and the smaller baby limas.

Lima beans can be grown as bushy plants or climbing vines, depending on the variety. Bush-type limas are compact and grow to about 2-3 feet in height. They don’t require much space and are ideal for smaller gardens. Climbing limas, on the other hand, need some support, such as a trellis or tepee, to grow and reach their full potential.

When it comes to growing lima beans, it’s important to know their requirements. Lima beans thrive in well-draining soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. They need a sunny location with at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. Lima beans are warm-season plants, and they don’t tolerate frost well. Therefore, it’s best to plant them after the last spring frost, when the soil has warmed up.

For the germination of limas, it is recommended to soak the seeds in water for about 15 minutes before planting. This helps in the quick germination of the seeds. Plant the lima beans about 1-1.5 inches deep and 2-4 inches apart. Keep the soil moist without overwatering, as limas don’t like soggy soil. Expect germination to occur within 7-14 days.

Lima beans require regular watering throughout their growing season. They need about 1 inch of water per week, either from rainfall or supplemental irrigation. Be careful not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot. It’s also important to mulch the soil around the plants to conserve moisture, suppress weed growth, and regulate soil temperature.

When it comes to pests, lima beans can be affected by various insects, including aphids, leaf miners, and bean beetles. Regular inspection of the plants and application of organic pest control methods can help prevent and manage these pests. Additionally, planting companion plants, such as marigolds, can help deter pests and attract beneficial insects.

Harvesting lima beans is a satisfying task. Depending on the variety, lima beans are ready for harvest in 65-75 days from planting. The pods should be plump and firm to the touch. Harvest the beans before they become dry and hard. To save the beans for later consumption, shell them and store them in an airtight container. When properly stored, lima beans can last for up to a year.

In summary, lima beans are a delicious and nutritious vegetable that can be easily grown in the garden. With the right care and attention, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of fresh lima beans that will last throughout the year. Whether you buy them from the grocery store or grow them in your own backyard, lima beans are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes.

Lima Bean Overview

Lima beans, also known as butter beans, are a common legume that is grown in many gardens. These beans come in different sizes and varieties, including bushy and pole types.

Growing lima beans requires some care and attention, but it is a great option for beginner gardeners. They can be grown in both warm and cool seasons, depending on the type of lima beans you choose to plant.

Before planting lima beans, it is recommended to soak the seeds overnight to improve germination. You can also start the seeds inside to get a head start on the growing season.

When planting lima beans, make sure to choose a sunny spot in your garden. These plants crave sunlight and will grow best with at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day.

Lima beans have specific spacing requirements, and it is recommended to plant them about 3 inches apart in rows that are 24-30 inches apart. This will give the plants enough room to grow and spread without overcrowding.

For optimal growth, lima beans require well-draining soil that is enriched with organic matter. You can add compost or mulch to the soil to improve its fertility and moisture retention.

Water is essential for the growth of lima beans, and it is important to keep the soil consistently moist. However, make sure not to overwater them, as they can be susceptible to root rot.

Lima beans are nitrogen-fixing plants, which means they have the ability to convert nitrogen from the air into a form that can be used by plants. Therefore, fertilizing with nitrogen may not be necessary if your soil is already nutrient-rich.

It takes about 75-90 days for lima beans to reach maturity, depending on the variety. You can start harvesting the beans when they are plump and fully developed. Pull the pods gently from the plants, and be careful not to damage the vines.

If you plan to store the harvested lima beans, it is best to blanch them before freezing. This helps to preserve their flavor and texture. You can also can or dry the beans for long-term storage.

Lima beans are a versatile vegetable that can be enjoyed in various dishes. They can be cooked in soups, stews, and side dishes, or even eaten raw in salads. Lima beans are high in protein and fiber, making them a nutritious addition to your diet.

When it comes to pests and diseases, lima beans may be susceptible to aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. Regularly inspect the plants for any signs of infestation and treat them accordingly.

In conclusion, growing lima beans can be a rewarding experience for gardeners of all levels. With proper care and attention, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest and nutritious beans to add to your meals. If you have any questions or need more guidance, don’t hesitate to ask for help from a gardening expert or refer to a comprehensive growing guide.

Compact Versus Climbing

When it comes to growing Lima beans, gardeners have two types to choose from: compact and climbing. Both types have their own unique characteristics, and it’s important to understand the differences before deciding which one to plant in your garden.

Compact Lima beans, also known as Phaseolus lunatus, are smaller in size compared to climbing beans. They grow in compact, bush-like forms and do not require any support structures. This makes them ideal for gardeners with limited space or those who prefer a more organized garden layout. Compact beans are perfect for planting in rows or small plots, and they can also be grown indoors with proper care and conditions.

Climbing Lima beans, on the other hand, are true climbers. They have long vines that can reach up to 8 feet or more, and they require a trellis or other support system to grow vertically. Climbing beans are known for their vigorous growth and the ability to maximize space in the garden. They can be planted in rows or in small clusters, and they thrive in direct sunlight and warm temperatures. Climbing beans are a favorite among experienced gardeners who enjoy the challenge of training the vines.

Both types of Lima beans have similar requirements when it comes to soil, water, and fertilizer. They need well-draining soil with a pH level between 6 and 7.5. Lima beans should be watered regularly, about 1 to 1.5 inches per week, and they benefit from the application of a balanced fertilizer two to three times during the growing cycle. It’s also important to watch out for common pests like aphids, beetles, and diseases like white mold. Mulch can be used to help conserve moisture and control weeds.

When it comes to harvesting, both compact and climbing Lima beans are ready to be picked when the pods are plump and bright green. The pods should feel firm to the touch and snap easily when bent. To harvest, simply pull the pods gently from the plant. After harvesting, the beans can be stored for future use. They can be blanched for a few minutes, cooled, and then packed in an airtight container. Proper storage conditions include a dry and cool place, away from direct sunlight.

Whether you choose compact or climbing Lima beans, it’s important to know that each type has its own advantages and challenges. Compact beans are perfect for beginners or gardeners with limited space, while climbing beans are a favorite among experienced gardeners who enjoy the challenge of training vines. By following a few simple guidelines and taking care of your plants, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of delicious Lima beans.

Type Compact Climbing
Size Smaller Larger
Growth Habit Compact, bush-like Vines
Support Structure Not required Trellis or support system
Space Requirement Rows or small plots Direct sunlight, warm temperatures
Harvesting Plump, bright green pods Plump, bright green pods
Storage Dry and cool place Dry and cool place

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.