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Pole Beans vs Bush Beans – Do You Know the Difference?

Green beans are a popular vegetable garden plant, second only to tomatoes in popularity. However, before you decide to grow them, it’s important to understand the differences between pole beans vs. bush beans.

There are many varieties of green beans, but all can be categorized into one of two ways: bush beans or pole beans. These two categories refer to the way in which the beans grow.

Although both types of beans share many similarities, they have distinct differences in growth habits, harvest time, and care requirements. Understanding these differences can help gardeners choose the best type of bean for their needs.

Let’s explore these differences so that you can choose the right variety for your garden.

A collage showing pole beans on a bean tepee and bush beans growing in rows in a garden.

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Growth habits of bush beans vs pole beans

This is an easy difference to understand. Bush beans are compact in form, and pole beans reach a much taller height. Let’s explore this a bit further.

Bush bean height

As the name suggests, this type of bean grows into a compact bush shape as opposed to vertically like pole beans. This makes bush beans easier to manage.

Bush beans typically reach a height of about 1 to 2 feet (30 to 60 centimeters) and do not require any support. 

Bush bean plant growing in a garden.

This compact growth habit makes them ideal for small gardens, containers, and areas where space is limited. They can provide a dense coverage in a raised garden bed that helps to suppress weeds and retain soil moisture.

When they are not grown in small spaces, but instead in large gardens, they are often planted in double rows. Even though external support is not needed for bush beans, planting in two rows gives them light support, which can be useful when they bear fruit.

Bush beans growing in rows.

Pole bean height

In contrast, pole beans are climbing plants that require external support to grow. They can reach heights of 6 to 12 feet (1.8 to 3.6 meters) or even taller.

A good choice for pole bean support is a structure like a garden obelisk or a trellis. Pole beans will also climb single poles easily.

When pole beans climb, the tendrils take hold of the pole and wind around it.

Pole beans growing on bean poles in a garden.

This produces a tall, lush plant that will soon be covered in beans, as compared to bush beans that grow close to the ground.

This vertical growth habit allows pole beans to maximize space efficiently, making them suitable for small garden plots where ground space is limited.

Collage showing pole beans on bamboo poles and bush beans in a garden with words Pole and Bush.

The climbing nature of pole beans is perfect for gardeners who are not only looking to save space but also looking to add vertical interest to their gardens.

You can make an easy DIY pole bean tepee (pictured below) in just minutes. The kids will love hanging out in the tepee space and enjoying a healthy snack of fresh beans!

Pole beans growing up a bean teepee in a garden with a hosta plant in the center.

Pole beans vs bush beans yield

Both bush beans and pole beans are a great choice for beginning and advanced gardeners. How soon you want to harvest your beans will determine which variety you choose to plant.

How long do bush beans produce?

Bush beans tend to mature faster than pole beans. Most varieties will be ready for harvest about 50 to 60 days after planting. If your goal is to enjoy fresh beans in recipes early in the season, then bush beans are a great choice. 

Much like determinate tomatoes, bush beans give you a large harvest over a relatively short period of time – usually about 3-4 weeks. This makes them a good choice for gardeners who like canning and freezing since you will get a large harvest all at once.

After the initial harvest, bush beans may produce fewer beans, making them less suitable for continuous harvesting throughout the growing season.

If you want to extend your bush bean growing season, you can plant multiple crops of bush beans, spaced a few weeks apart. This technique, called succession planting, will give you a supply of bush beans throughout the summer.

Basket of green beans on the ground.

How long do pole beans produce?

Pole beans, on the other hand, take longer to mature than bush beans. They are usually ready for harvest 60 to 90 days after planting. 

Once they start producing, they will continue to produce pole beans throughout the growing season, often until the first frost. This prolonged production is beneficial for gardeners who prefer a steady supply of beans over a longer period, as opposed to bush beans which are ready all at once.

Additionally, because pole beans grow vertically, they often produce higher yields per square foot when compared to bush beans. With pole beans, there is no need for successive plantings, since a single planting of pole bean seeds can provide beans all season long.

Bush vs pole bean maintenance and care

Pole beans and bush beans are both relatively easy to care for. However, the differences in their maintenance might cause you to pick one variety over the other.

Bush beans care

Because of their compact size, regular watering and occasional weeding are typically all that is required to keep bush beans healthy and productive.

This ease of care for bush beans makes them a great option for beginning gardeners or those with limited time for garden maintenance. However, they are more likely to suffer from diseases related to damp soil since their foliage is closer to the ground than pole beans.

Pole beans care

Pole beans require more initial effort to set up support structures, but they offer several advantages that bush beans don’t. The vertical growth habit of pole beans improves air circulation around the plants, which can reduce the risk of fungal diseases.

Harvesting the crop is also easier, since beans grow at a more accessible height, reducing the need for bending or kneeling. One disadvantage of pole beans is that gardeners need to regularly train the vines to climb their supports, which requires some ongoing attention.

Pole bean vine growing around a bamboo pole.

Choosing between bush beans and pole beans ultimately depends on a gardener’s specific needs, available space, and desired harvest timeline.

The choice is yours!

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It's green bean season! The ground is warm so seeds can be planted. Find out about the difference between bush beans and pole beans and learn how to choose which type to pick for your garden. Find out more on The Gardening Cook.… Share on X

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Would you like a reminder of this post detailing the difference between pole and bush beans? Just pin this image to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.Bush beans in flower and pole beans in a teepee with words Bush Beans vs Pole Beans

Why not grow some delicious green beans for your family this year? Whether you choose to grow pole beans or bush beans, the shopping list below will be great to download and take when you go shopping for seeds.

Admin note: This post first appeared on the blog in September 2012. I have included many more photos, a more detailed overview of the difference between pole and bush beans, a printable shopping list, and a video for you to enjoy.

Yield: 1 shopping list

Printable - Shopping List for Pole Beans vs Bush Beans

Beans in a wooden crate with words Green Beans Shopping List for pole and bush beans.

Green beans come in two types - bush beans and pole beans. This shopping list will help you choose the variety that is best for your garden.

Print it out and keep it in your garden journal and take it when you go seed shopping.

Active Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Difficulty easy
Estimated Cost $1


  • Heavy card stock or printer paper


  • Computer printer


  1. Load your printer with heavy card stock or printer paper.
  2. Choose a portrait layout.
  3. Using this print function on this card will print a shopping list that fills about 3/4 of an 8 x 11 inch sheet of paper.
  4. If possible choose "fit to page" in your settings.
  5. Take the shopping list with you the next time you go plant shopping for green bean seeds.


Shopping list with varieties of bush beans and pole beans to grow.

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Saturday 12th of August 2023

Thanks so much for the difference between bush beans and poke beans. It was very informative.


Sunday 7th of August 2022

Hello, thanks for the great info. How often daily should the pole beans be watered? Also and how many leaves should be taken out? Or one should not take any leaves off? How does taking the leaves off affect it, produces more or not? Thank you, kris

Carol Speake

Monday 8th of August 2022

Watering depends on many factors - area of the country, temperature, normal rainfall, ground vs pots, etc, so it's not possible to say how often to water them. They need about 2 inches of water a week so if rainfall doesn't give you this, they need extra watering.

I don't know what you are asking as to the leaf situation. I only pick the beans when mature, not the leaves.

Garie Mullis

Tuesday 15th of February 2022

What is the type of being that is not stringy I planted them in Mississippi but it's been six or seven years now moved out here to Arizona don't really remember what they were called.

Carol Speake

Wednesday 16th of February 2022

There are lots of varieties of stringless beans. Some common ones are Contender, Provider, Maxibel, Jade, Blue Lake, Harvesters, Greencrop, and Topcrop.


Saturday 31st of July 2021

Great article Carol. I grow multiple varieties of pole and bush beans. I have been vegetable gardening for over 50 years and over time have steadily moved them to one of my favorite crops. Besides their ease of growing and steady yield throughout the season with succession planting they are one of the most versatile vegetables to compliment the other goodies that come from the garden on a more limited basis. We never get tired of the different ways they can be incorporated into meals, appetizers, and snacks. Our favorite way to preserve them is pickled (dilly beans). I also can and freeze them and enjoy serving them out of season especially with Holiday meals.

Linda Antonson

Wednesday 14th of July 2021

Why would my bush bean plant have long tendrils on them.

Carol Speake

Thursday 15th of July 2021

Some beans are known as "Half Runner" beans. These are a bush bean type that does produce tendrils, even though they are shorter.

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