Black beans are a classic summer crop that is easy to grow. The plants are hardy, and don’t require much care other than a sunny spot to grow in. This makes them a popular choice for all levels of gardeners, and a great first vegetable to grow. Join us now in learning how to grow black beans indoors, and enjoy this delicious vegetable year round.
Note that while a lot of these tips will be geared towards indoor growing they are also equally applicable to outdoor gardens. Beans will have the same general care for things like light, water, and feeding, so you can apply these tips regardless of where your black bean plant is located.
Soil and Container
Beans grow best in containers that are long and narrow, similar to many window planter boxes. This mimics how beans are often planted outdoors, in long rows, and gives room for multiple bean plants per container.
You can also use traditional containers as long as they are large enough. Look for your container to be at least 8” deep, and provide at least 3” of space between each black bean plant. Black beans don’t take up too much space, so make a great choice for those with space constraints. In either case, make sure that your chosen container has proper drainage.
For soil, any well draining commercial potting soil will work. Make sure to use a potting soil that is well draining and one that is specifically designed for container gardening. Outdoor potting soil will not work in containers and will cause damage to your plant.
Planting Your Black Beans
Black bean seeds are quick to germinate, and can usually be placed directly into your soil. You don’t need to start them in a seed tray to soak them beforehand like many other seeds. Simply sow your seeds directly into their permanent container.
For spacing, look to give about 3” of space between each plant. This will give them enough room to grow, while also maximizing your space and your harvest. For depth, you’ll usually plant them about 2” deep, but you should follow the directions on your seed packet.
If you’re growing outdoors, or moving your container outdoors, make sure to plant after the last frost date. Black beans like relatively warm weather, so any hard frosts will kill them. Make sure any outdoor growing is done after your area’s frost dates, and move them inside or harvest before the fall frosts. Beans typically grow best from mid-spring to early fall.
Beans grow best in primarily bright light, and you should look to get them about 6-8 hours of light per day. Black beans are a full sun plant, and do best when given a sunny spot to live. The sunlight will also keep the plant and soil warm, which is another factor for optimal growth.
Lack of sunlight can lead to slower growth and lead to little or no edible beans to harvest.
Water and Fertilizer
Look to water your black bean plant when the top inch of the soil is dry to the touch. Give it a quick inspection each day, and water deeply when it’s dry. Make sure to thoroughly saturate the soil. The roots of the black bean plant don’t grow very deep, so you need to make sure that soil is thoroughly saturated or too much may drain out of reach.
One thing to note is that when pod production starts your black bean plants will need to be watered more. This denoted by the appearance of flowers on your plant. Once you see these flowers, be more diligent in checking for water, and expect to need to water more frequently.
Beans are very hardy, and don’t need many additional nutrients. If you’re using a quality soil, then your beans should be able to get all their nutrients needed from that. You can add some compost or very light fertilizer when you initially plant, but it’s not needed. Most gardeners won’t fertilize their black beans at all and still see fantastic harvests.
Black beans are a staple item in many Mexican and Creole dishes. They have a variety of uses, and you’ll find them often in dips, spreads, and soups. They also fit perfectly well as a carb on the side, or as a key ingredient in many entrees. In many recipes that call for different beans, like kidney, you can substitute in black beans to great effect.
Compared to some other beans, black beans take a long time to be ready for harvest. It takes about 90-140 days, so expect to wait a few months to harvest.
You can tell when black beans are ready when their pods take on a yellow or brownish color. You don’t want to harvest them when they’re still green as these haven’t fully ripened yet.
To harvest, you can either take the whole plant or snip off individual pods. Then, remove the shell to get the ripe beans inside. Ripened beans should be a dark, black color.
Remember, before eating or cooking your black beans, most chefs recommend soaking them.
How To Grow Black Beans Indoors
Black beans are an easy plant to grow and have relatively low light requirements compared to other vegetables. If you’re looking for an easy vegetable, give them a go and see if you can add some delicious legumes to your diet this summer.
How To Grow Black Beans Indoors FAQ
How Difficult Is It To Grow Black Beans Indoors?
Black beans are fairly easy plants to grow as they are low maintenance. They need a good amount of sun, and consistent water to grow properly.
How Many Black Bean Plants Should I Grow?
A good recommendation is about 15 plants per person. This will provide a good amount of beans, and should be enough to last until next harvest depending on dietary habits.
How Much Light Do Black Bean Plants Need?
Black beans need roughly 6-8 hours of sunlight per day.
How Long Do Black Beans Last?
Stored properly, black beans can last up to 2-3 years after harvest.