Pinto beans are easy to grow and a great source of plant protein. The nutrition level of the beans makes them a fantastic addition to any garden setup, but sometimes you run out of room when gardening. So how can you grow pinto beans in containers to free up your garden space?
You can grow pinto beans in a container with good drainage, space, and quality soil, and the plant receives adequate water and sunlight. Pinto beans are resilient plants and grow under most circumstances. However, the beans struggle with transplanting, so it’s best to sow them where you want them.
In the rest of this article, I will discuss the steps to growing healthy pinto beans in containers. I will also clarify what containers work best, the soil to use, and where you should leave the plants during the day. So if you want to learn more about growing pinto beans in pots or containers, read on.
1. Select a Suitable Container
First, you need to select a container. Pinto beans aren’t super picky about the container they’re grown in. However, there are a few standards the container should meet to ensure optimal plant growth.
Specifications of a suitable pinto bean container include:
- Drainage holes along the bottom
- 8 inches (20 cm) deep
- Easy to move around
- Rectangular pots are better when growing multiple seeds
As you can see, there aren’t a lot of requirements when it comes to which container your beans will prefer. You can easily use a standard planting pot, a bucket, or any other container lying around, so long as it has drainage holes.
The material itself doesn’t matter. You can easily use plastic, clay, wood, or porcelain containers.
Remember, due to their delicate roots, you will struggle to replant your bean plants. Therefore, the container you choose will be their forever home and needs to be spacious enough for their future growth. Pinto beans are annuals so you wouldn’t have to repot them.
2. Use Quality Potting Soil
You must use good-quality soil in your pot or container. Luckily, pinto beans require very little nutrition. However, your beans will struggle to fruit because of too much nitrogen.
Pinto beans prefer sandy loam to grow and thrive because of its excellent drainage. The soil should be rich in nutrients with a 6-8-10 NPK ratio for the best yield.
The pH of the soil should typically sit around 6.0-7.0. You can check your soil pH and nutrient levels using a soil test kit.
Your beans’ soil plays a crucial role in their development since much of their nutrients come from the dirt. Bean plants are also easily over-fertilized, so starting with good soil is critical.
3. Plant the Beans in the Container
Once you have selected a container and soil type, it’s time to plant the beans.
You should follow these steps:
- Add enough soil to reach about an inch (2.5 cm) below the mouth of the pot.
- Plant your pinto beans 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) deep into the soil and water thoroughly.
- If you’re planting multiple bean plants in the container (grouping bean plants is preferred), ensure you space out the seeds 3-6 inches (7-15 cm) apart. Proper spacing ensures the plants have room to grow and don’t compete too heavily for nutrients.
It is best to wait to plant your pinto beans until after the last frost has passed, especially if you want to keep the containers outdoors. For your beans to germinate, they require soil temperatures of 60-70 °F (15.6 -21 °C). If the temperatures drop too low, the plants won’t sprout up.
However, you can start them earlier indoors as long as you have a sunny spot and can keep the indoor temperatures above 60 °F (15.6 °C).
4. Place the Pot in a Sunny Spot
Pinto beans require plenty of sunlight for optimal growth. Beans are considered full-sun crops and thrive in sunlight. Typically, beans need at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. However, this need can vary based on the climate.
For example, partial shade may be preferable for your beans if you live somewhere extremely hot and want the beans to flower. Luckily, because your pinto beans are in containers, they are easily moved if the weather grows too warm or cool.
Placing containers on the south side of your yard is best to ensure your beans get enough light each day. This spot gets the most sunlight throughout the day and will be highly beneficial if you have a shadier yard.
Indoors, a spot next to an unobstructed southern window will set your beans up for success. The heat and light from the sun will also warm the soil up and encourage your plant to germinate.
Setting your pinto beans up in the perfect spot sets you on the road to your first bean flowering. I have a great article on encouraging your bean plants to flower: How to Get Your Bean Plants to Flower: 6 Methods
5. Set up a Bean Watering Schedule
Another critical element to keeping container-grown pinto beans happy is watering regularly. Beans need a consistent watering schedule since it aids in preventing overwatering. In addition, pinto bean roots are delicate and easily fall prey to root rot. So it’s essential to understand your plants’ watering needs and follow them carefully.
Pinto beans need about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water each week when grown in the ground. In containers, the potting soil can dry out much faster. A good rule of thumb is to water the soil as soon as the top 2 inches (5 cm) are dry.
Always check the soil before watering and stop if you notice that your beans’ soil is still damp when you go to water. It’s essential to let the soil dry out a little in between each watering. Drying ensures water doesn’t sit on the roots of the beans, eventually causing root rot.
Monitoring your plant’s water consumption is vital. However, you can still easily set up a watering schedule or automated system via drip irrigation. Such a system can keep watering consistent and ensure the plant thrives, so long as overwatering doesn’t occur.
6. Remove All Weeds From Your Container
When growing plants in containers, most gardeners recommend using soilless mixes. However, even when growing pinto beans in a pot, it’s always best to use garden soil for better yields. That said, you’d want to keep an eye out for drainage issues and weed seeds.
Once your pinto bean plants have established themselves, you must look for unwanted weeds. Even when purchasing quality soil, weeds can still end up in the mix. Additionally, if your plants are outdoors, weeds will occur from seeds blown into the container.
It’s crucial to pull any weeds from the roots and dispose of them. What makes weeds so dangerous is their ability to take over a container so quickly. In addition, the weeds compete with your bean plants for nutrition, leading to sad beans and poorer fruit yields.
7. Monitor Your Bean Plants for Pests and Diseases
Another essential thing to look for is pests or illnesses taking over your bean plants. Both can decimate your tiny bean plants and prevent them from fruiting.
So what are some signs you should look for when it comes to pests and plant diseases?
Common Pest Problems
Potted pinto beans are also susceptible to infestations by pests, especially if the neighboring plants are affected. Beans are resistant plants, but too many pests can lead to future problems for your little bean plants.
Acting fast is essential if pests have moved into your bean plants. Over time, each pest will weaken your plant and eventually cause the pinto beans to die. Prevention is the best method when it comes to pests. However, your plant is still savable after infestation if you act quickly.
Using a gentle insecticide like neem oil is beneficial to keep these pests at bay. This oil will deter pests from residing in your bean plants and kill off any already hiding. Just make sure to apply the treatment at night. Applying the oil in the morning in addition to the full sun requirement of pinto beans will lead to sunburn.
The most common pinto bean pests include:
Bean Leaf Beetles
Bean leaf beetles leave small chew holes in your plant’s leaves and will cause the plant’s growth to become stunted. You can often see the tiny beetles on the underside of the bean’s leaves.
If you have whiteflies, they make an appearance on the underside of your bean plant leaves. They are tiny white creatures that leave splotches of honeydew, attracting ants. Whiteflies tend to swarm when they fly, making their presence obvious.
Stink bugs eat your bean pinto plant leaves and are easily spotted climbing on the plant’s leaves and stems.
Another thing you need to watch out for with your bean plants is diseases. Generally, beans are hardy little plants, but they get sick now and again. So knowing what to look out for is extremely important.
Here are the most common pinto bean diseases and what to look for:
Bacterial wilt presents as dry crunchy leaves and generally occurs during warm weather. This disease inhibits proper water supply to the entire plant, eventually wilting and dying.
Overwatering leads to the plant’s roots rotting and eventually death. You will see symptoms of pale leaves and discoloration. Plus, the leaves will often start to droop.
Halo blight is an illness that affects the leaves and bean pods. As the name suggests, it appears as small halos of crispy spots on the plant.
These are just a few common illnesses bean plants can face. However, a spray like neem oil can also help prevent your plant from contracting these diseases. It’s essential to act quickly if your beans become diseased and move them away from other plants.
8. Harvest Your Pinto Beans
Finally, you get to harvest your pinto bean pods. Generally, it takes pinto beans about 90 days to reach maturity. The hard beans are easily stored once they have time to dry out.
So, after all the work, it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Cut the pods from the plant, open them, and collect your beans.
Growing pinto beans in containers is easy and fun. Many gardeners prefer this method as the bean plants stay more mobile. Plus, pinto beans don’t require much room, and you can bring them indoors if the weather grows too warm or cool, leading to you having beans for longer.