How to Grow and When to Harvest Lima Bean Plants From Seed

Welcome! This article contains affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you.

How to grow lima beans and when to harvest them! Many homesteaders are looking to grow more varied crops in larger quantities to counteract the effects of global food price increases. We’re all familiar with the more common types of beans grown by backyard gardeners, but recently crops such as the lima beans plant have become more popular.

If you’re interested in how to grow and harvest this highly nutritious food in your garden, keep reading to find out more!

What Are Lima Beans?

Lima beans are starchy, savory beans, sometimes known as butter beans. These beans are the seeds of the lima plant, growing inside a green pod around three inches long.

Inside each pod is two to four relatively large kidney-shaped beans. The vast majority of lima beans are cream or green, although you may come across varieties with red, purple, brown, black, or white beans.

The great advantage of growing your lima beans is that you can eat them fresh. As well as store some for later use. Fresh lima beans are not widely available, as most of this crop gets harvested for canning and drying. If you can ever try fresh lima beans, you’ll appreciate how lovely these nutritious beans are!

Read More – Okinawa Spinach Growing Guide! How to Sow and Grow Okinawa Spinach!

Let’s not overlook the storage qualities of lima beans, though! If one simple and effective way to ensure you have food throughout the seasons exists? It is by growing legumes for drying or canning. A good crop of lima beans means you can enjoy them all year round. For very little or no cost at all.

Lima beans are packed full of nutritional benefits and are a great way to ensure that your family consumes a healthy and balanced diet.

Like most legumes, lima beans are an excellent source of fiber. Fiber is perfect for homesteaders and gardeners because it helps to lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels. They are also virtually fat-free and have high amounts of protein.

That’s (one reason) why these innocent little beans get referred to as a superfood!

Growing and harvesting lima beans is easy – and rewarding! But, there are a few rules you must follow! Lima beans are a fair-weather crop that prefers a temperature range of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They’re also surprisingly thirsty – and won’t produce ample beans without plenty of water. They need one inch of water per week.

Types of Lima Beans

If you are considering growing lima beans, it is helpful to note that they come in two main groups of varieties. The first of these are climbing beans, also known as pole beans. These like to grow upwards. And may reach heights of over six feet!

If growing climbing lima beans, you will need to provide a trellis or framework to support them. King Of The Garden Pole is a fantastic pole lima bean variety. They are renowned for their prolific growth and huge yields. (Lima beans are usually either pole varieties or bush varieties.)

You also have lima bean bush varieties, which grow much closer to the ground. These are easier to grow. But will not give the bulky quantities of pods that come from giant pole beans.

Bush beans do not need tall stakes but will appreciate a bit of support when they are laden with heavy pods of beans. For a good spring crop? Give Early Thorogood Bush Lima beans a try.

You’ll probably notice that finding fresh lima beans is difficult. You may find fresh lima beans at a local farmer’s market – but rarely from the chain supermarkets. The reason for that is that lima beans perish very quickly! We read that storing lima beans at 37 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit is the best solution for medium-range storage. Want to preserve your harvested lima beans longer? You can also can lima beans and freeze lima beans long-term.

How to Grow Lima Beans

Lima beans are super easy to grow and require very little maintenance to provide a large crop. Whether you want a few beans to eat fresh in the summer months or a year-round supply of dried lima beans, the growing techniques are the same.

The key to growing lima beans is to remember that they are a warm-season crop. And will not germinate at temperatures under 65 degrees Fahrenheit. They are not frost-tolerant and do not thrive well in hot temperatures either.

Their temperature sensitivity means that the time you choose to sow lima beans is critical and highly dependent on your local climate.

For us, we have a short but mild spring, so the race is on to get all of our beans grown and harvested before the hot summer weather. We sow our beans in pots in a frost-free location in early spring. We try letting them rest on a cool windowsill. The seedlings are then transplanted outside as soon as the risk of frost has passed.

If you have the luxury of a longer growing season? Then planting the beans directly outside is a wiser and less time-consuming option.

Read more: Save Money, Grow a Peach Tree From Seed

Spacing lima beans correctly is vital to give the best possible yields. Start by planting rows of lima beans around two feet apart, with four to six inches between each plant. Creating a small gulley along the row of plants will help you to keep them well-watered.

Then all you need to do is provide the plants with supports, water them well in dry periods, and watch them grow!

Growing and harvesting lima beans is more expensive than we thought! And we even read that pole lima bean seeds are surprisingly hard to come by at times. The good news is that lima beans finish faster than other garden crops. Popular lima bean cultivars like Burpee Improved Bush and Fordhook 242 mature in only 75 days.

When to Harvest Lima Beans

When you harvest lima beans will depend on whether you want to eat fresh beans straight from the pods. Or if you are storing them by drying or canning.

Your intended use of the lima bean is everything. You have two options for the best time to harvest lima beans. There’s the shelling stage and the dry stage. The shelling stage means the pods are green and plump, filled with juicy beans. The shelling stage is the ideal time to harvest lima beans to eat fresh or for storing in the freezer.

For dried beans, leave the pods on the plant until they become dry and brittle. The beans inside will be dry and hard, just like the dried beans you buy from the store.

If you are planning on canning your lima beans, you can harvest them at either stage, depending on the canning method you are using.

Read More – Growing Black Beans – Complete Growing Guide!

Growing and Harvesting Lima Beans – FAQs

We’re sure you’ll have plenty of questions about growing and harvesting lima beans, so let’s see if we can answer them all!

Read More – Growing Sugar Snap Peas From Scratch! From Seed to Harvest!


Growing and harvesting lima beans is rewarding for farmers!

We’re also surprised to learn growing lima beans is more expensive than most homesteaders think!

We hope our guide makes things easier for you – so you never waste a single seed.

If you have more lima bean growing questions or tips to share? Then let us know.

We love hearing from you.

Thanks so much for reading!

And – have a great day!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *