Lima Beans

Ripe lima beans, in and out of the pod. See more pictures of lima beans & lima bean recipes.
Ripe lima beans, in and out of the pod. See more pictures of lima beans & lima bean recipes.

Lima beans are popular with origins in South and Central America. Some varieties of lima beans are called butter beans, particularly in the southern United States

About Lima Beans

This large-seeded annual bean grows as either a bush or a vine. Bush lima beans are generally easier to handle than pole varieties. Bushes grow only 1 or 2 feet tall, and they mature earlier. Pole beans require a trellis for support. They grow more slowly but produce more beans per plant.


Lime Beans & Lima

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Common Names: Lima beans, butter beans

Scientific Name: Phaseolus limensis

Hardiness: Very Tender (will not survive first frost)

In the next section, we'll show you how to grow lima beans.

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Growing Lima Beans

Lima beans are related to
Lima beans are related to

To germinate properly, lima beans need warmer soil than snap beans. They also need higher temperatures and a longer growing season for a good crop. Lima bean seeds require soil temperatures of at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit for a minimum of five days to germinate. They should be planted two weeks after the average date of the last frost.

Plant bush beans every two weeks to extend the harvest, or start with bush beans and follow up with pole varieties. Plant seeds directly in the garden, an inch deep. For bush beans, plant the seeds 2 inches apart in single rows or wide rows.


Seeds of pole beans should be planted four to six inches apart in rows 30 to 36 inches apart. Or, plant them in inverted hills, five or six seeds to a hill, with 30 inches of space around each hill.

For pole bean varieties, set the trellis at the time of planting to avoid disturbing the roots. The lima bean seed sometimes has trouble pushing through the soil, although this should not happen if the soil is well worked.

Harvesting Lima Beans

With this type of bean, the maturing seed is eaten, not the entire pod. Pick pods before the seeds have become tough. Ripe pods usually pop open when you press them along the seams.

Types of Lima Beans

  • Bush varieties: Fordhook, 75 days, is a large-seeded lima bean with high yields. Henderson Bush, 65 days, has white beans, three or four to a flattened pod.
  • Pole varieties: Burpees Best, 92 days, has Fordhook characteristics: thick, 41/2-inch pods with high yield. Prizetaker, 90 days, has 6-inch-long pods with three to five beans.

Want more information about lima beans? Try:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Find delicious recipes that feature lima beans.
  • Vegetable Gardens: Grow a full harvest of great vegetables this year.
  • Gardening: We answer your questions about all things that come from the garden.
  • Lima Bean Stains: Here's our guide to getting out green and yellow veggie stains.