You asked: How many beans can you plant in a 5 gallon bucket?

Here’s the quick answer if you’re itching to get outdoors and plant your beans.

A 5 gallon bucket is the perfect size for 3 bean plants.

Ideally, you’ll plant bush beans (dwarf beans) in your buckets, but pole beans (climbing beans) with some support will work too.

When you grow vegetable plants in containers, there are some essentials that you need to know if you want healthy plants and a rewarding harvest.

Spend a few minutes going through the tips in this post, and you’ll be all set to grow a bumper crop.

how many beans can i plant in a 5 gallon bucket 1

What’s The Best Kind Of 5 Gallon Bucket To Grow Beans In?

Choose a food grade, white bucket.

When you’re growing any type of vegetable, you must make sure that the 5 gallon bucket you use is made from food grade plastic.

Some plastics can leach harmful chemicals, and you don’t want those poisoning your plants or being absorbed by the root systems and ending up in your food.

Food grade plastic doesn’t leach these chemicals and won’t ruin your plants or your health.

A white bucket is preferable to darker colors.

On a hot day, a white bucket will reflect more of the sunlight than a dark bucket and this helps to keep the plant’s root zone cool.

One drawback of growing vegetables in containers is the tendency for the pots to get too warm. A white container will go someway to mitigating that issue.

How Many Drainage Holes Do You Need In A 5 Gallon Bucket?

Use a drill with a 5mm or 10mm bit to make large holes in the bottom of the bucket. Drill 10 holes evenly spaced around the outer edge. Then drill a second row of holes (about 7), halfway between the first row and the middle.

Good drainage is vital for containers and overlooking this critical aspect of container growing is a common reason for growth problems and poor yields.

Without good drainage the bottom section of the bucket will become waterlogged.

This anaerobic (“living/existing without oxygen”) zone is terrible for your plants.

Their roots will avoid growing down into waterlogged soil, and instead of spreading out to gather nutrients from all of the soil in the bucket, they’ll hold back in the ‘safe zone’ and your plant will be stunted and weak.

A 5 gallon bucket with 2 rows of holes drilled in the bottom.
Drill drainage holes in the bottom of your 5 gallon bucket like this.

How Deep Should A Container Be For Green Beans?

Five gallon buckets are commonly used for all kinds of container grown vegetables because they’re easy to get hold of, and often free.

But many vegetables, beans included, will grow well in shallower containers.

Bush beans need at least 6 – 7 inches of potting soil, while pole beans need at least 8 – 9 inches of soil to grow well.

How Many Bags Of Potting Soil Do You Need For A 5 Gallon Bucket?

Potting soil is commonly sold in quarts, and there are 20 quarts in a 5 gallon bucket.

Because a 5 gallon bucket is so deep, you don’t need to fill it all the way to the top with potting soil.

Fill it three quarters full.

That will take 15 quarts of potting soil, so one 16 quart bag or two eight quart bags will fill one bucket.

You can also find potting soil sold in cubic feet.

16 quarts is close to half a cubic foot. So one cubic foot will fill two 5 gallon buckets, three quarters full.

For better results, mix one third vermiculite or perlite into the potting mix.

Vermiculite helps the soil retain moisture and nutrients.

What Is the Best Temperature For Planting Beans?

Beans are a summer plant, so it’s important to wait until temperatures warm up before sowing seeds or planting seedlings.

Planting while the weather is too cool will weaken your plants and slow growth, leading to poor harvests.

Beans will germinate best when your soil temperature is at least 55°F (12°C ). If your soil is too cold the seeds will most likely rot instead of germinating.

How Many Bush Bean Plants Can You Grow In A 5 Gallon Container?

It’s important to give each plant enough room to grow, so don’t crowd too many plants into your bucket. Three is plenty.

Thoroughly water the potting soil in your bucket before sowing seeds or transplanting seedlings.

Beans don’t like to have their roots disturbed, so make sure you plant out seedlings while they’re small, before their roots have filled your seed pots.

If you’re sowing seeds directly into the bucket, sow them between 1 and 1 1/2 inches deep (2.5 cm – 3 cm) Cover with soil and gently press with your finger to firm the soil over the seed.

Put 2 seeds in each hole. You never know if seeds will germinate well, so by sowing extra seeds you increase your chances of getting a seedling in each spot. If they all germinate, just pinch out the extra ones.

You will use more seed this way, but you won’t lose time waiting for new seeds to germinate to make up for any that didn’t emerge the first time around.

The newer your seed is the better. With very fresh seed, you can usually get away with sowing 1 seed in each spot.

Place a piece of plastic over the seeds to stop the soil from drying out.

In ideal conditions, bean seed should sprout in 5 – 7 days.

I’m experimenting to see how well 4 bean plants will grow in this bucket. If this turns out to be too many, I’ll pull one of the plants out to give the others enough room.

sowing bean seeds 5 gallon bucket
Bean seeds sown in a 5 gallon bucket. This may be too many…we will see.
Bean seeds covered with a circular piece of clear plastic to keep the soil moist while the seeds germinate.
Cover the seeds with plastic to help keep the moisture in the soil.

Which Bush Bean Varieties Grow Best In Containers?

Try growing:

  • Contender – Large, tender, heirloom bean. About 50 days to maturity.
  • Porch Pick – Bred for container growing and producing a high yield. About 55 days to maturity.
  • Gold Rush – Productive lemon-yellow, heirloom beans. About 55 days to maturity.
  • Royal Burgundy – Dark purple, heirloom bean (green when cooked). About 55 days to maturity.
  • Bergold – Yellow French bean. About 55 days to maturity.

Can Green Beans Grow In The Shade?

No. Bean plants need full sun, in a sheltered position to thrive.

Bush beans can take a little more wind exposure than climbing beans too.

Can You Grow Pole Beans In A 5 Gallon Bucket?

Yes, absolutely.

Prepare your buckets in the same way, and sow seed, or transplant pole bean seedlings in the same way as for bush beans.

The only difference is that pole beans need a support to climb up.

You can use 3 long bamboo canes tied at the top into a tripod, or a tall tomato cage as supports.

Set your support structure in place before sowing seed or transplanting your seedlings, so that you don’t disturb the roots of your young plants when you push the supports into the bucket.

When your bean plants grow to the top of the poles, pinch out the growing tips.

This will allow the plant to put more energy into pod production, and it will stop an unruly tangle of bean vines drooping down from the top of the supports.

How Many Pole Beans Can Be Planted In A Container?

Pole beans make much larger and more dense foliage than bush beans. Because of this I would only grow 1 or 2 plants per bucket.

When foliage is too thick, you won’t get good air circulation around the plants, and in damp, humid weather, you’re more likely to see mildew or fungal problems develop.

Which Pole Beans Grow Best In Containers?

You will get great results if you plant:

  • Kentucky Wonder – Tender and full of flavor, this heirloom variety matures in about 65 days.
  • Blue Lake – Popular heirloom, very tall! Matures in about 75 days.
  • Rattlesnake – Tender pods, ready to harvest early at 60 days. Can also be left for about 100 days to give a harvest of dry beans.

How To Water Beans Growing In A 5 Gallon Bucket

Beans need plenty of water and you need to make sure that the soil in the container doesn’t dry out.

Keep the soil damp until the beans germinate, then water frequently whenever the top couple of inches of soil feels dry. Just push your fingers into the potting soil to test for moisture level.

Pay close attention to watering when your beans are flowering. Inadequate water at this stage will result in very few beans.

Add a mulch of straw or compost once your plants are growing well to help retain moisture.

If you can, water your bean plants in the morning, so they have all day for the foliage to dry off in the sun. This will help prevent fungal diseases developing on the leaves.

Do Beans Need Fertilizer?

Container grown beans will need feeding, but be careful. Avoid giving them too much nitrogen or you will have abundant foliage and very few beans.

I mulched a long row of pole beans one year with heaps of nettles which are full of nitrogen. What a mistake that was. My bean plants looked amazing with their lush, dark green foliage, but come harvest time the pickings were slim.

Lesson well and truly learned.

Beans are a legume and they have the ability to fix nitrogen. What actually happens is a type of bacteria in the soil, called Rhizobacteria, takes nitrogen from the air present in soil and passes it to the bean plant.

The bean plant passes carbohydrates (sugars) to the bacteria in return. Because of this symbiotic relationship, beans don’t require much additional nitrogen.

Look for fertilizers with a NPK ratio of 6-12-12.

6% Nitrogen, 12% Phosphorous, and 12% Potassium. Apply once per month.

Common Pests And Diseases That Affect Bean Plants

Snails and Slugs

These slimy critters love to munch on newly sprouted bean seedlings. Often they will bite off the growing tip and your plant will be ruined. If they’ve chewed part of the leaves but left the growing tip intact, your beans will have a chance to recover.

If you can find some dead blackberry brambles, you can cut them up into short sections to place around your plants. The slugs and snails don’t like spiky thorns and wont slither over them to attack your young bean plants.

Holly leaves work well too.

You can also try crushed egg shell, but in all honesty, it’s not very effective..


Aphids and bean leaf beetles are the main insects to watch out for. Keep a bottle of neem oil (diluted for plants), close to hand and spray your plants at the first sign of infestation.

Neem oil affects insect nervous systems, so they soon stop eating and die. And unlike many pesticides, neem oil is 100% natural and safe for humans and pets.

Bean Rust

Bean rust is a fungal disease which strikes when humidity is high and temperatures are warm.

The first signs are small white or yellow spots on the leaves.

Inspect your plants regularly, and remove infected foliage to minimize spread to nearby leaves.

Prevent fungal disease by keeping good airflow around your plants, and watering at soil level to keep the leaves as dry as possible.

Of course the leaves will get wet when it rains and there isn’t really anything you can do about that, except maybe put up an umbrella. I’m joking by the way.

Harvesting Your Beans

Pick pole beans regularly, once or twice per week, to ensure continued production (unless you want to harvest a crop of dried beans).

Bush beans tend to mature all at once, so for continued harvesting throughout the summer season, you will need to plant up new containers every 2 weeks.

Wrapping Up

So now you know how many beans you can plant in a 5 gallon bucket, what kind of bucket is best for them, how much potting soil you need and the best varieties to grow.

Now all you need to do is get busy in the garden and grow yourself some tasty, nutritious beans.

Thanks for reading: How many beans can you plant in a 5 gallon bucket. Happy growing!

bio pic

Kate Prince

Hey there! I’m a small scale homesteader sharing what I know about the off-grid life. I grow fruits and vegetables, raise chickens and goats, and produce my own power, heat, and clean water.   Feel free to send me a message.