How to grow borlotti beans

Updated February 21, 2017

While maturing and growing in the garden, borlotti beans' purple and green splodged pods provide ornamental value. When it's time to harvest, borlottis provide delicious and nutritious legumes that can be eaten fresh or dried. Borlotti beans are easiest to grow from seed. However, as they are cold sensitive you must wait until the soil warms in spring. If planted before the last predicted frost date, they may freeze to death before they have a chance to germinate.

Break up the top 15 cm (6 inches) of the soil with a hand tiller. Remove any plants, roots, rocks or other debris that you find as you turn and mix the earth.

Spread 5 cm (2 inches) of aged compost over the turned bed. Mix the compost to a depth of 15 cm (6 inches) in the soil with the hand tiller. Rake the soil smooth.

Plant the borlotti beans 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches) apart in rows that are 75 to 90 cm (30 to 36 inches) apart.

Install supports by inserting the base of the support into the soil adjacent to the bean seeds, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Bean trellises, bean poles and bean tepees are all suitable supports. Look for supports that are at least 1.8 to 2.1 m (6 to 7 feet) tall.

Water the bean bed, using a hose or sprinkler to deliver a gentle spray of water. Stop watering when the top 7.5 to 10 cm (3 to 4 inches) of the soil are moistened. Do not soak the soil. If water begins to pool on the surface, stop watering until the water absorbs. Then, continue watering at a slower rate. Only water again during periods of drought and in the summer when there is less than 2.5 cm (1 inch) of rainfall per week.


Plant dwarf varieties of borlotti just 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 inches) apart in rows that are 45 to 60 cm (18 to 24) inches apart. Borlotti beans are susceptible to a number of pests and disease. At the first sign of a problem, contact your local county extension office for help with identifying and treating the problem. Never grow beans in the same soil two years in a row.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand tiller
  • Aged compost
  • Rake
  • Bean supports
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About the Author

Based in Houston, Texas, Meg Butler is a professional farmer, house flipper and landscaper. When not busy learning about homes and appliances she's sharing that knowledge. Butler began blogging, editing and writing in 2000. Her work has appered in the "Houston Press" and several other publications. She has an A.A. in journalism and a B.A. in history from New York University.