Lablab - Growing Hyacinth Bean

Updated on May 31, 2016
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Yvonne is a Louisiana Master Gardener and a former president of the Folsom Native Plant Society. She gives talks about sustainable gardens.

Lablab purpureus Beans

Young Hyacinth Beans can be cooked and eaten like sugar snap peas.
Young Hyacinth Beans can be cooked and eaten like sugar snap peas. | Source

Hyacinth Bean - Lablab purpureus

If you need a vine that is an excellent and edible quick screen, the Lablab purpureus or Hyacinth Bean is the plant for you. Besides being easy to grow, it is very beautiful with its sweet scented lavender flowers, electric purple bean pods and purple stemmed vines. Add to that the fact that it is edible and you have a perfect plant for the sustainable landscape.

Hyacinth Bean is a member of the pea family so it is a nitrogen fixer. This makes it an excellent cover or green manure crop to increase soil fertility. It is a good browse crop for deer and other hoofed animals.

Many parts of the plants are edible including the leaves, flowers, pods, fresh seeds and roots. Cooked fresh pods and seeds are eaten in a variety of dishes throughout Asia and Africa. However, dried beans are poisonous, and can only be eaten if they are boiled for a long time.

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Growing Hyacinth Beans

The vines quickly cover the trellis.
The vines quickly cover the trellis. | Source
The flowers are a lovely lavender color.
The flowers are a lovely lavender color. | Source
The spires of flowers put on quite a show.
The spires of flowers put on quite a show. | Source
The purple bean pods add to the beauty of this multipurpose plant.
The purple bean pods add to the beauty of this multipurpose plant. | Source

How to Grow Lablab Purpureus

As with any gardening project, you must first prepare the soil. I like to keep my garden as organic as possible, so I used well rotted chicken manure and leaves to amend the soil.

My objective was to grow a quick screen to block the view of the chicken coop. I am planning to remodel an ancient garden shed and turn it into a new, larger coop, but will need some help with that project.

I constructed a trellis using large bamboo and one T-post. I ran bailing twine and sisal cord horizontally to provide support for the vines.

In the "bed" I planted Contender bush beans (in the front) and Luffa Gourds and Hyacinth Beans in the back along the trellis. On each end, in the middle, I planted winter squash.

In mid May, I planted Hyacinth bean seeds (that I had saved from a couple of years ago) and they sprouted in less than a week. By mid June the vines had covered most of the trellis.

To plant the beans, mound up the soil into a row. Form a shallow trench (about 2 inches deep) with a trowel. Plant the seeds in the trench, about 2 inches apart, then cover with good soil and water well. Keep the seeds moist during germination and water well during dry periods after the beans are up.

The flowers will start blooming in late summer to early fall. If you want to have seeds for next year, be sure to let some of the pods dry out on the vine. Gather the dried pods before any freezing weather and store in a cool, dry place. We put ours in a paper bag in the house.


How to Plant Lablab Seeds

Young Lablab bean pods
Young Lablab bean pods | Source

Eating Hyacinth Beans

Lablab beans are a member of the cow pea family. The shelled fresh beans can be cooked like black eyed peas or field peas. They taste a little like Lima beans, only milder. They are used in many spicy Asian and Indian recipes.

The young pods can be used like sugar snap peas in stir fry or sauteed dishes. The flowers and leaves are also edible.

Be sure that the Hyacinth beans are NOT dried. The dried beans contain high concentrations of cyanogenic glucosides so they must be boiled for prolonged periods of time to make them safe for consumption.


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    • profile image

      Ruth 3 months ago

      I grew some for the first time this year. Some in a 8inch pots in my greenhouse and a couple outside. Both grew well and produced tall vines with plenty of leaves but I had no flowers on either! What went wrong?

    • naturegirl7 profile image
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      Yvonne L. B. 5 years ago from South Louisiana

      Because of the warm winter, we are having trouble with beet worms. These tiny striped caterpillars can shred leaves on many vegetable plants and will eat through tomatoes in a few days. For any type of caterpillar pest, if you don't do butterfly gardening, you can use Bacillus thuringeinsis spray. This organic pesticide will kill all moth or butterfly larvae that it comes in contact with, so use it carefully. It doesn't know the difference between a tomato hornworm and a monarch butterfly caterpillar.

    • profile image

      samsung 5 years ago

      Small caterpiller-like insects r eating up my pods.... anyone knows what i should do? Plz help...

      thanks.

    • naturegirl7 profile image
      Author

      Yvonne L. B. 6 years ago from South Louisiana

      I am delighted that so many enjoyed this hub and that some of you may try to grow this attractive and useful vine.

    • manthy profile image

      Mark 6 years ago from Alabama,USA

      Cool Hub - I have never heard of em, I like pork N beans..LOL

      Kudos on getting the Hub of the day - I'm a little jealous

      Keep up the good writing

    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 6 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      I have actually never heard of this bean. I love the fact that they are purple. So cool, thanks for educating me.

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Very interesting and Useful! I had never heard of this bean before now. Thanks for sharing! Voted Up and Useful!

      JSMatthew~

    • hoody1950 profile image

      hoody1950 6 years ago from beaverton oregon usa

      UH OH

    • naturegirl7 profile image
      Author

      Yvonne L. B. 6 years ago from South Louisiana

      Roy and Kiwi,

      I bought some from Burpee's and Amazon.com has them, too. Dave's Garden (http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/890/) says there are 5 vendors who sell the seeds. It also tells you a bit about growing conditions, etc.

      They are grown as an annual and I think that they will grow and have beans just about anywhere. Since they are an annual, you must collect the dried beans and store the seed to start next year. Down here in LA, they have self seeded once or twice.

      If you have a very short growing season, you must start them indoors 6 weeks or more before the last frost. Other than that, they are really not fussy and they grow fast. ;)

      Everyone, thanks for all the congratulations. I was floored when I saw the email this morning. And I've been running errands with a friend all day so I couldn't keep up with the comments.

    • vwriter profile image

      vwriter 6 years ago from US

      What an interesting hub. I've never heard of this type of bean.

    • profile image

      Dave Zupak 6 years ago

      awesome hub. very informative

    • hoody1950 profile image

      hoody1950 6 years ago from beaverton oregon usa

      Nice

    • kiwi91 profile image

      kiwi91 6 years ago from USA

      Nice hub, congrats on hub of the day! These sound all around like a great plant to grow. Any idea on what the range is that these can grow in the US?

    • seanorjohn profile image

      seanorjohn 6 years ago

      If they taste half as good as they look I am going to start growing them. Congrats on winning hub of the day.Voted up

    • Roy Perrin profile image

      Roy Perrin 6 years ago from Jacksonville, NC

      Can I find these at my local Wal-Mart or Home Depot? When is the ideal time to plant? What region do they thrive in best? Thanks!

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi naturegirl7, what a beautiful looking bean, I hope I can grow it in the UK, great hub and congratulations on hub of the day!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Very interesting to learn about this bean.

    • naturegirl7 profile image
      Author

      Yvonne L. B. 6 years ago from South Louisiana

      Thanks Peter and Kristy,

      Many people up north grow them for the flowers. If you start the beans indoors or in a greenhouse during winter, you can transplant the young plants as soon as the weather warms up.

    • kristymckeown profile image

      kristymckeown 6 years ago from Havelock, Ontario

      Wow! Lovely! Too bad I live too far north :*(

    • PETER LUMETTA profile image

      PETER LUMETTA 6 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

      Naturegirl7, looks and sounds good to me, we're going to try them out. Thanks, Peter

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      What a beautiful bean! I've never seen one like it before. Gosh, I'd love to have a garden and grow it someday. Awesome Hub!

    • naturegirl7 profile image
      Author

      Yvonne L. B. 6 years ago from South Louisiana

      Jimmie, Thanks for the comment. I grew up on a farm and learned early about eating what you grow. Even pretty plants. ;)

    • JimmieWriter profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 6 years ago from Memphis, TN USA

      I've seen these, but never eaten them. How frugal!

    • naturegirl7 profile image
      Author

      Yvonne L. B. 6 years ago from South Louisiana

      Hyphenbird, I appreciate your comment. Thanks.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      How cool. Thanks for this information. These seem yummy and I am going to find some.

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