The Q&A Archives: Growing Snap Beans

Question: Do all types of pole and bush snap beans cross pollinate? My Romano pole beans produced a cross with bush Burpee Tenderpod after the first large batch of beans. I would like to plant two varieties of snap beans. Do some grow better in my region? Kentucky blue pole has grown poorly for some reason on my two tries with this plant while the Italian pole and small lima beans have grown the most vigorous.

Answer: In general, beans are highly self-pollinated, so that usually relatively little crossing takes place in the garden. Did you save the seeds from your Romano or Tenderpod bean plants and grow them out? How did you know they crossed? Did they produce an unusual bean unlike either parent? Some cross-pollination may take place, depending on the variety and the types of pollinating insects in the area. If you are trying to save seed from your beans you might want to isolate, bag, or cage your plants to ensure no crossing takes place. Remember that any effects of cross-fertilization show up in the next generation. That is, if you plant two varieties of beans next to each other, even if cross-fertilization does take place, the current season's beans will resemble the original seed. It is only when you plant the saved seeds the next season that any differences resulting from the cross-pollination show up.<br><br>I'm surprised that you had such varying success with the different types of beans. They all have similar cultural requirements. Are they growing in similar soil, with similar amounts of light? Did your Tenderpod beans do well? If so, you might stick with those and maybe add another -- I like to plant a yellow or purple variety, just because they are so pretty and are especially easy to harvest.

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