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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

Recent Comments

Runner bean ‘Firestorm’: New self-fertile bean from Marshalls

Posted by Graham Rice on 03 Apr 2012 at 12:50 PM

Runner bean 'Firestorm': new self fertile variety from Marshalls. Image ©Marshalls SeedsThe weather is on our minds again. This time, the drought. And it reminds us that drought always seems to disrupt the pollination of runner beans. Some say that we should spray the flowers with water – but I think this is a waste of time. I’m sure the only benefit they get is when the water runs off and soaks into the soil. But growing one of the new self fertile runner beans is certainly a help.

Most runners beans need pollination from another plant to produce beans. They need bees to carry the pollen from flower to flower and they also need moisture at the roots. But with fewer bees and drier summers, crops have been unpredictable.

‘Firestorm’ is the first scarlet runner that is completely self fertile, it crops well when fertilised with its own pollen and without a visit from the bees. In fact it’s altogether less fussy about setting pods. The beans themselves are stringless and slightly thicker, slightly sweeter and more tender than other runner beans. And the flowers make quite a show too.

‘Moonlight’, introduced a couple of years ago, is also self fertile but has the less popular white flowers.

The other thing that helps ensure a good set for all runner beans is moist soil. So the bath water and the washing up water should go along the bean trench.

You can order seeds or plants of runner bean ‘Firestorm’ from Marshalls Seeds.


Digger said:

Have these runners had a plant trial by the RHS graham? I'm of course thinking about the showbench potential,a self fertile cultivar would be a great advantage

on 08 Apr 2012 at 12:10 AM

Graham Rice said:

A trial of runner beans is currently on the schedule for next year, Digger. The most recent trial of runner beans to take place was in 2006. You can read the report here

on 10 Apr 2012 at 03:56 PM