Welcome to the delightful world of growing broad beans in containers!
Whether you're a seasoned gardener or just starting out, cultivating these hearty legumes in pots can be a rewarding experience. Imagine stepping outside your door to pluck fresh, crisp beans straight from your own mini-garden. From choosing the right containers and soil to sowing the seeds and nurturing your plants, we'll guide you through each step with ease.
Broad beans, or Fava beans as they are called in the USA, are a very popular bean.  Around 10,000 tonnes are grown commercially in the UK every year. They are simple to grow yourself and if you are organised will be one of the first veg of the year to be ready to eat. 

Like many vegetables, shop bought versions don't do the tasty flavour justice. Broad Beans are well worth growing to enjoy fresh from the furry pod. There are many varieties to try including the Red Flowered which has stunning deep red flowers and a beautiful fragrance as well as delicious beans.

Where to Sow Broad Beans

Broad beans can be grown in the ground or in containers.  Check out our blog on How to Grow Broad Beans in the Garden if you don't decide to grow them in containers.   

When to sow broad beans

When to sow broad beans is all down to which variety you choose. So, choose your seeds carefully.  

Usually, they are sown in the Spring, from February to April. Some varieties have been bred to be hardier and can be sown in autumn, from October to November to overwinter and provide an early crop.  We have even managed to successfully sow them in December and with the help of a large, bright windowsill.  If you’re short of space, there are even dwarf and smaller varieties that you can grow in pots.

The best container to grow Broad Beans in 

You will need a fairly large garden planter or pot to grow broad beans in pots.  We suggest one at least 35cm in diameter. Both the medium and deep from this set of three Vegetable Planters or the Vigoroot Vegetable Planter would do the job.  

How to sow broad beans in containers

You can plant in Rootrainers or small pots if you are short of space and transplant into your vegetable planter later.  Or you may choose to plant direct into your Vegetable Planter.

To Plant Direct into your Planter

Fill your container with good quality compost and plant 3 or 4 seeds evenly spaced about 2cm (1") deep.Place the container somewhere fairly sheltered like a greenhouse or cold frame if you have one. If you have no where to keep it then it will be fine outside but your first crop may be delayed.   

To Plant in Rootrainers first

Your seeds should be planted early in January or February for transplanting in the Spring. To sow in Rootrainers, add one seed about 2cm (1") deep to each cell and gently cover with soil then water well.  Pop the lid on and place in a greenhouse, cold frame or windowsill.  Check every week to make sure they don't dry out. 

Germination should take around 2 to 3 weeks.    

When to transplant broad beans

If growing in Rootrainers you will need to move your plants. Transplant the seedlings into their planter when they are large enough to handle.  Plant 3 to 4 in your planter 5-7cm (2-3”) deep. Put either canes or maypoles in place to support the plants as they grow.  

Broad beans and after care

Watering Broad Beans in Containers

Container grown plants may need more watering than those planted in the ground.  So remember to check the pot and ensure they don't dry out.  

Pinching out

Once they are beginning to show the pods, pinch-off a couple of inches from the top of the plant. This will direct the energy towards the pods rather than new growth and reduces the risk of aphid invasion.

Keep weed free throughout the growing season - a Precision Speedhoe will make short work of weeds between the rows. 

How to harvest broad beans

They take between 15 weeks (Spring planted) and 30 weeks (Autumn planted) to be ready to harvest.  So, pick them from April to September depending on when you sowed them.  

The pods are ready when they are about 7.5cm (3") long.  Before harvesting, make

sure that the beans within the pods are large enough. They should be about 1/3 of the weight of the pod. Pick the pods when they have become swollen and be careful not allow the pods to become too mature because they will become leathery and tough. Continuous harvesting extends the cropping season. Broad Beans are best picked and used fresh.

How to store broad beans

If you aren't going to eat them straight away, freeze them.  To do this first blanch them, then let them cool before you bag them.  If you don't want to freeze, dry out broad beans and keep them in an airtight container.

Sarah Talbot