When healthy bean plants produce few to no pods, it can be very frustrating. Below are some of the most common causes for this issue, along with solutions for avoiding bean plants that produce few to no pods.
Lack of proper pollination
Some members of the bean family are self-pollinated, but some beans do require pollinators (honeybees or bumblebees). Depending on what else is flowering nearby, bees may pass right by the bean plants since bean flowers are lower in nectar compared to many other blooming plants.
- Companion planting is generally helpful in the garden but be careful, too many blooming options nearby may lead to a lack of proper pollination.
- If the lack of pollinators seems evident, try using Blossom Set Spray by Bonide® to encourage pod set. When sprayed on or around the blooms, this natural hormone aids plants in setting fruit when optimal conditions are elusive for whatever reason.
Bean blooms are sensitive to temps that are too high or too low. Their flowers can start having trouble setting pods when daytime temps go over 80°F. Likewise, temperatures that get too cool can cause similar issues. Beans prefer to grow in a temperature range of 60°F to about 75°F.
- Although we cannot control the weather, we can make sure to plant according to the weather and not just the calendar.
- Start your bean seeds indoors to get a jump on the growing season & the weather.
- After hardening them off, plant them out as soon as temperatures of 60° to 65°F arrive.
Beans are sensitive to inconsistent soil moisture as well. If the soil becomes overly saturated by rain events or over-watering, flowers can drop. Likewise, drought conditions will stress bean plants and cause flower drop along with reversion issues. Some varieties are more susceptible to reversion than others. Ask us for help.
- Applications of consistent water at ground level helps to keep bean plants happy.
- The rule of thumb in the vegetable garden is 1 inch of water per week through the growing season.
- Mulch, mulch, mulch. Adding 2-3 inches of clean mulch or compost around plants in the garden will help retain critical soil moisture and can help suppress weeds at the same time.
Many vegetable plants can grow well in nutritionally rich soil, however, since legumes create a symbiotic relationship with soil microbes to absorb the nitrogen they need, when too much additional nitrogen is added, bean and pea plants can fail to produce flowers and pods, in favor of just growing leaves.
- Monitor soil nutrition as closely as possible. Don't guess, have a soil test done every 3-5 years.
- Avoid amendments with naturally high nitrogen and limit fertilizer applications. Animal manure often contains high amounts of nitrogen with poultry, pig, and cow manure having the most in that order.
- Applying fresh inoculants for legumes at planting helps to improve their ability to extract enough natural nitrogen from the soil as needed with the help of microbes.
Beans have been a staple food item since early Mesoamericans domesticated them thousands of years ago. Learning how to get the most yield out of our bean plants has been an ongoing adventure ever since. Hopefully, following some of these suggestions will help you to put more beans into your basket.