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How to Grow Lablab (Hyacinth Bean)

Yvonne is a Louisiana Master Gardener and a former president of the Folsom Native Plant Society. She gives talks about sustainable gardens.

Young Hyacinth Beans (Lablab purpureus) can be cooked and eaten like sugar snap peas.

Young Hyacinth Beans (Lablab purpureus) can be cooked and eaten like sugar snap peas.

About the 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's edible, and you have a perfect plant for the sustainable landscape.

This plant is a member of the pea family, so it's 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.

It's Edible, Except for the Dried Beans

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.

How to Grow Lablab Beans

When I grew these beans, 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 I will need some help with that project. This was my planting process.

Step 1: Prepare the Soil and Trellis

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.

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.

Step 2: Add Companion Plants

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.

Step 3: Plant the Lablab Seeds

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:

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

Step 4: Wait for Blooms and Harvest Seed Pods

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.

Young Lablab bean pods

Young Lablab bean pods

Eating Hyacinth Beans

Lablab beans are a member of the cowpea 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 a stir fry or other sauteed dishes. The flowers and leaves are also edible.

Remember: Do Not Eat Dried Beans!

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.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Will the lablab bean grow in Canada?

Answer: Yes, I believe so, as an annual.

© 2011 Yvonne L. B.

Please leave a comment.

Ruth on September 11, 2017:

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?

Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on May 02, 2012:

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.

samsung on May 02, 2012:

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


Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on July 21, 2011:

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

Mark from Alabama,USA on July 11, 2011:

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

Marie Hurt from New Orleans, LA on July 11, 2011:

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

JS Matthew from Massachusetts, USA on July 11, 2011:

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


hoody1950 from beaverton oregon usa on July 11, 2011:


Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on July 11, 2011:

Roy and Kiwi,

I bought some from Burpee's and has them, too. Dave's Garden ( 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 from US on July 11, 2011:

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

Dave Zupak on July 11, 2011:

awesome hub. very informative

hoody1950 from beaverton oregon usa on July 11, 2011:


kiwi91 from USA on July 11, 2011:

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 on July 11, 2011:

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 from Jacksonville, NC on July 11, 2011:

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 from United Kingdom on July 11, 2011:

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 on July 11, 2011:

Very interesting to learn about this bean.

Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on July 11, 2011:

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 from Havelock, Ontario on July 11, 2011:

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

PETER LUMETTA from KENAI, ALAKSA on July 11, 2011:

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

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on June 29, 2011:

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!

Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on June 28, 2011:

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

Jimmie Quick from Memphis, TN USA on June 28, 2011:

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

Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on June 27, 2011:

Hyphenbird, I appreciate your comment. Thanks.

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on June 27, 2011:

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