Best Fertilizer for Bean Plants | Grow Large, Healthy Beans

Pelleted chicken manure and bone meal are the best fertilizers for preparing poor soils for bean plants. Home-made compost, mushroom compost, bone meal, pelleted chicken manure are also great for preparing poor soils for beans. They add phosphorus, calcium, potassium and small amounts of nitrogen so won’t affect bean production.

If you have healthy, light, fertile soils then you don’t need to add any fertilizer to beans throughout their growth period.

Prepare heavy clay or sandy soils with compost, bone meal and pelleted chicken manure before planting bean seeds or seedlings to give them the best start. Sandy soils will not hold moisture well and can make it difficult for beans to get the nutrients they need.

Bean plants are incredibly self-sufficient which can absorb nitrogen from the atmosphere, fix it to their roots and repair damaged soil. Mixing through commercial or home-made compost is a great option as it will help to improve the soil for your next crops along with the beans.

This article will explore the best fertilizer for bean plants in all conditions, when you need to add extra supplements and how to get the most out of your crop.

Best fertilizer for beans planted in good quality soil

Beans are easy care plants and can improve your soil over time. They need little in the way of added nutrients if your soil is in good condition. They can be planted after growing hungry plants like tomatoes, peppers or brassicas.

Beans can be planted by seed in spring in cooler climates or plant them all year round if you live in a sub-tropical climate like me. As long as you avoid frosts, beans will thrive and grow well.

Before planting beans it is always a good idea to add some extra compost to your soil. Each time a crop finishes and you are ready to replace it, add some compost to boost the soil. Beans will need little in the way of nitrogen if soils are healthy and free draining. Compost adds organic matter without adding too much nitrogen.


Add 2-3 inches of compost mixed through your soil before planting bean seeds or plants to help them to grow well. Compost lightens the soil, feeds soil bacteria and worms and helps to repair the soil after growing hungry winter vegetables.

Mushroom compost

Mushroom compost is a great way to prepare soils for bean plants. Good quality mushroom compost (without added salt) will add extra organic matter, adds good amounts of phosphate and is low in nitrogen. Mushroom compost is cheap and an easy way to add organic matter to your soil.

Home-made compost

Home-made compost is the best ingredient for your soil before planting beans. It contains only the ingredients that you know, adds lots of good bacteria and helps to aerate the soil. Gently mix small amounts of homemade compost into the top 4 inches of soil to prepare it for your beans.

If you don’t have homemade compost reach for some commercially made, organic compost. I like to use one with added seaweed to help with plant root growth.

Worm castings

Worm castings are another great soil amendment you can add before planting beans. Take the opportunity at the end of the season to add a few handfuls to your soil. You only need to add small amounts of worm castings because they are nutrient rich and contain loads of good bacteria.

When to add nitrogen fertilizer to beans

Beans are legumes and are able to absorb nitrogen from the atmosphere. Beans will only need added nitrogen fertilizer if the soils are very poor.

Adding too much nitrogen can actually decrease your crop of beans, leading to lots of leaf growth and long stems instead.

Pelleted chicken manure

If soils are very poor you can improve it with 1-2 handfuls of pelleted chicken manure over a 2 square foot area. Pelleted chicken manure is a mild fertilizer that will break down fast and gently feed the plant.

Bone meal

A small handful of blood and bone can also be mixed through the soil to give it a small boost before planting bean seeds.

Adding phosphorus

Rock phosphate added to your soil will strengthen root growth for your beans. Bone meal will also add phosphate as well as mushroom compost. The best way to know if your soil is low in phosphorus is to use a test kit. Check the phosphorus levels before planting your seeds if you are concerned.

The best way to increase the nutrients in the soil without overwhelming the plant with nitrogen is to add compost. Mushroom compost, bone meal and pelleted chicken manure are all great ways to improve soil nutrients without slowing bean production.

Look out for nutrient deficiencies

After planting your beans check the leaves regularly as they will be the first to indicate nutrient deficiencies.

Beans with yellowing leaves

Bean plants with yellow leaves can be a sign of nitrogen deficiencies. If you are growing beans in poor sandy soils this can happen. If the beans are already in the ground, top dress them with a light layer of compost, surround them with straw mulch and add a dilute liquid nitrogen fertilizer.

Follow this up 2 weeks later with a handful of pelleted chicken manure and beans will recover quickly. If the problem is caught early, yellow leaves can turn green again. If the leaves have started to turn brown you can pinch them off and make room for new ones.

Best Fertilizer for Bean Plants | Summary

The best fertilizers for bean plants are mild, organic and slow releasing. Bean plants do not need much in the way of extra nutrients and can capture and store nitrogen from the atmosphere to feed the soil. The best fertilizer to improve the soil ready for bean plants are home-made compost, mushroom compost, bone meal, pelleted chicken manure or