Borlotti Beans

Borlotti beans have to be one of the prettiest legumes I’ve ever grown, the pods and beans are equally beautiful. The pink splashed pods really brighten up the veg patch and look almost exotic. Cook and eat them as you would for french or runner beans, I chose to leave mine a little longer before picking, allowing them to dry in the greenhouse spread out on a rack in their pods. This way the beans will store for a few months until I need to use them. They should be soaked overnight before cooking if used dry.

This is the first time I’ve grown borlotti, the seed packet instructions said to support them as I would for runner beans so naturally I expected them to climb tall. I planted them within a cane wigwam but it wasn’t needed, they grow pretty much the same way as dwarf french beans and support themselves pretty well. No harm done, at least I know better for next year.

16 thoughts on “Borlotti Beans

  1. I love borlotti beans :) We grew a climbing variety this year and I’m happier with them that the low growing ones. `


  2. That’s interesting Mo, I assumed mine would climb. I didn’t realise there were low growing ones! I will look out for the climbing variety for next year.

    Hi Elaine, they’re really pretty beans!


  3. I’ve grown a climbing variety too but they weren’t very prolific. My site is very exposed so I think I’m going to go for a lot of dwarf varieties next year anyway. My green beans were quite bruised and battered by September.


  4. Nice crop! We grew the dwarf variety as well. We had a good crop but the pods went moldy really quickly after picking them. I wanted to leave them in the pods for a bit to dry, I guess our house is too damp. Also grew Yin-Yang beans, similar thing happened; managed to eat quite a few though.

    Do you know how to preserve them as seeds for next season?

    Take it ez,



  5. Grew some myself this year too but although they looked good I must admit that I didn’t pick and use many of them (unlike the runner beans which made it on to the plate most nights) so I might not do them again next year. They are dry as a bone now though so I will have seed should I want to grow them again any without the need to purchase more. Jason.


  6. I too have had a climbing variety – “Lingua di Fuoco” – which grows very tall and definitely needs support. [Lots of pics of them on my blog too] They are so photogenic that it’s hard to stop photographing them! This year I have not eaten the pods young, but have left them to mature for drying. They’ll be great in a pork casserole in about February. :-)


  7. They’re both pretty and tasty!
    As others have said there are both climbing and dwarf varieties. I grow the former as I do runner beans and French climbing beans, often side by side along the same row of canes.


  8. Now, this is very strange. I have looked at the seed packet again and the variety ( Lingua di Fuoco ) is the same one that Mark has mentioned above. The packet has ‘Climbing Bean’ across the front. So, I wonder why mine grew like dwarf beans??!!

    I got a good crop so I’m not complaining, just a tad confused!


  9. I had the same problem last year. I complained to Thompson and Morgan who sent more seed. The new ones seened to have stopped putting on height too…..


  10. Thanks for your comment, Carole. Very interesting that yours did the same thing, I did think I was going mad for a while! I will have another go with last years seed and see how they go.


  11. Brew Borlotti beans last year and they climbed to about 5 feet – would have done more I think had it been a better year. Planted the same seed this year and they are climbing well. However, I have a few “misses” in the row – so when isaw a pot of six seedlings in the garden centre today for £2 I snatched them up. Now – I am *sure* that the label on the display said “climbing”, but when I got my pot home I saw that the handwritten label in the pot says “Borlotti bean bush”. I’ve searched the internet for reference to different varieties of Borlotti bean – no success – just some people seem to refer to them as a climber and some as a bush. The variety when it’s mentioned is always “Lingua di Fuoco” In the end, I will fill my gaps in the climbing row and then plant the rest in odd spaces around the garden and pinch the tips out – maybe that is the difference.


  12. Well – have to say that, sespite the wonderful growing season, the Borlotti were a huge disappointment. Growth petered out – some of them went bushy, others didn’t and the crop was very poor indeed :( It *might* have been because I planted them too close to the edge of a raised bed (i planted in a single row on the north side os a south facing bed) as I’ve realised that the very edge of the bed gets quite dry. I will try them once more next year up a wigwam, but if that doesn’t succeed it’s back to runners!


  13. Well – in case anyone is following this thread still, here we are one year later and my borlotti beans are definitely climbers this year!! I waited until I was absolutely sure the soil was warm enough and sowed direct. I’ve cut them off twice at the top of a 6 foot wigwam – but then gave up!!. The late sowing means they have only just started to crop – but given a decent Autumn I think we are in for a big harvest :)


  14. August 2015 – My Borlotti Beans, despite tremendous help from me, refused to climb! My seed was bought somwhere, brought on in pots and planted out early July. The plants are currently clipped to the canes and about (max) 2′ high! They are beginning to fruit however.


  15. Mine have climbed happily again this year – but again late sowing means they are only just starting to crop. I think next year I will try sowing earlier in root trainers. I’m wondering if it’s the transplanting that causes them to adopt a bushy habit? We shall see. Actually, one of the reasons I prefer them to regular runners is that they don’t crop as heavily as runners but the pods don’t get stringy and tough as easily.


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