Overwintered runner bans

figratfigrat Posts: 1,619

As I was claering the space from last year's runner beans, I found that the roots had survived the winter and are putting up new shoots. 


 As you can see, not very spectacular, but it's there! I'm reluctant to dig it up, and have decided to leave it, plant this year's as planned, and see what happens, but I was wondering if anyone else has experience of this? I'm on the southern edge of Dartmoor if that's of any interest. I've already mentioned this on the 'May in your garden thread', apologies for reposting but thought I might get a wider audience if I posted as a new topic.


  • donutsmrsdonutsmrs Posts: 448

    I always leave my runner bean roots in the ground but I have never experienced this. I always cut them off well below soil level. I wouldn't dig it up either just to see what happens, you never know you may get the most fantastic beans you have ever had.image

  • AuntiemandAuntiemand Posts: 44

    I overwintered some in my shed, in the same way I did my dahlia tubers.   Was clearing the shed today and found then having completely forgotten about them.   They have completely white shoots, but shoots nonetheless.

    I read last year thy could be saved but the crop wasn't great.  So, I shall plant them once they've greened up and compare to my properly grown ones.   

    Figrat, are you going to let them carry on?

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener LeicsPosts: 6,353

    Hi Figrat,

    I had this happen just once, a few years ago.  About 5 or 6 runner roots survived the winter and came up again the next year.  They are perennial in their native habitat, but the cold, wet and pests usually get to them in our climate.  It'll be interesting to see how it does compared to ones sown this year!

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • figratfigrat Posts: 1,619
    I'm interested to see what happens too! Shall I keep posting updates?
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener LeicsPosts: 6,353


    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • BookertooBookertoo Posts: 1,306

    Yes please, really want to hear how the beans get on.

    In my trough in which I grew pumpkins last year, a very pretty deep pink petunia arrived, presumably from old compost.  I left it be, it has survived the winter, and is now coming into flower again.  I suspect that many of our annual plants could survive if we had the weather for  it, or kept them under cover - but usually we don't do this, nor have the room to do so.  Lovely when it happens naturally. 

  • steephillsteephill Posts: 502

    One of their nicknames in the US is "Seven Year Beans". They are perennial and should crop well again. They were also grown there more for their flowers than their beans!

    I intend to leave plenty of pods to fully mature as the beans are very useful in stews etc. long after you get bored with the pods. I simply freeze the beans while they are still plump (similar to harvesting broad beans) and make sure they are cooked thoroughly before eating.

  • figratfigrat Posts: 1,619
    @ Auntiemand - yes I'm going to let them carry on. As you can see from the picture, there are at least 4 shoots coming off the root, rather than the single stem I have with this year's batch. I always sow and grow too many beans anyway, so I may be completely overwhelmed this season!

    @Steephill - I boiled up some beans late last year which had dried in their pods. Variety 'Moonlight', they were delicious, very similar to butter beans but not quite as floury in texture.
  • figratfigrat Posts: 1,619

    They seem do be doing extremely well! Found another just to the left which has just poked up its first shoot.



  • I've noticed the same thing - about 5 shoots coming up.  Went to dig them up to transplant to my runner bean wigwam and discovered roots over 1 inch across.  Dug them up anyway and they seem to have survived.  I live to the east of Exeter - perhaps this is a Devon phenomenon.


  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 11,085

    I think  runner beans are a tender perennial. If someone has a polytunnel I think you could get an early crop in the second year, well before the outside beans.

    I've only ever had the roots survive once, in a very mild winter. My greenhouse started plants were already larger so I threw the old ones away.

    It's not a mess, it's a nature reserve.
  • figratfigrat Posts: 1,619

    Gosh, thanks for exccavating this thread!

    Sorry to have to report that last summer's ghastly weather was good for the slugs and b***er all else here. They demolished the overwintered plants so often (despite what I thought was adequate protection) so in the end I gave in and, as another poster mentioned, dug them up and replaced with new plants. I think I had the lousiest bean crop last year that I ever had.

    This spring, I was clearing a couple of bean planter sack things, and again found some overwintered roots which were viable. I decided to junk them, and now have 8 healthy looking new plants from this year's sowing. But I'm still intrigued to see if they can be grown as a semi perennial in this part of the UK, so am planning to mark the roots when I clear them at the end of the season, and pop a couple of cloches over them to see what happens. Which will probably be an easy feast for the slugs, but have nothing to lose really.


  • BookertooBookertoo Posts: 1,306

    Pop a bit of copper tape around the base of the cloches, making sure there are none trapped nside - it just might help - works with pots. 

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