Rare Exotic Plants For The Backyard Garden – Part 1 – Beans


Rare Exotic Plants – Unusual Beans To Grow

Basic vegetables to grow in a backyard garden.

Tired of growing the same old thing?  Try a few rare exotic plants!  Most of us home gardeners religiously pop the same vegetable seeds into the ground every year.  It almost makes gardening a no-brainer for us – because, after a few years, we know exactly what each plant needs.  We know how much sun, water, and nutrients to provide – and, when to provide them.

We all know the drill…

Without thinking about it, we just start planting the basic veggies – tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, squash, lettuce, corn.  Maybe sometimes, we change things up a bit by adding other produce that we have a hankerin’ for and haven’t grown in awhile.

Or, we decide that there are a couple of things that can be removed from the growin’ season since we had such an overage of them last year.

Usually, the replacements we choose are still plant varieties that are commonly found in home gardens.

Get the picture?


There’s An Old Saying

“Variety is the spice of life.”

Some of us garden enthusiasts like to occasionally think outside the box – spice up our life – and plant something unusual – something uncommon and extraordinary.

So, here’s part 1 of a list of rare and exotic vegetables that friends and family will be almost as amazed and excited about as you will be.  And, it’s all about…BEANS!

Use the green beans growing page for all the tips and tricks needed to successfully grow these beans – and, pretty much every one of these mouth-watering specimens will benefit if they are allowed to stretch out over a trellis.  These beans can go through the germination, transplanting, and hardening off processes – starting 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost in the spring.


Soak bean seeds in room temperature water for a day or so before starting the germination process.  Germination percentages will be higher and the seedling growth will be quicker.  If you find any seeds that don’t seem to want to germinate, very lightly sand or scratch off some of the seed coating on each side and soak them again – to increase the rate of sprouting.


Asian Long Bean

Asian Long Bean

The vines for these beans will grow over 10 feet high.  The pods get up to a foot long and are great in stir fries, sautés, stews, or just as a side dish.  They totally flourish in heat and are ready to pick in about 10 weeks.  Since these are tropical vines, they grow best in hardiness zones 7 through 10 – but, with a little tender loving care, they have been known to grow fairly well in zone 6, too.

Asian long beans are a lot like green beans – only a quite a bit longer.  Using a trellis will make life a whole heap easier than using stakes or cages – for both prunin’and pickin’.

The best seeds come from Stonysoil Seed Company.


Chinese Red Noodle BeanChinese Red Noodle Bean

This is one of my favorites!  Besides being eye-catching with their foot and a half long dark purplish red pods, they are super in a sauté or stir fry – and, they don’t lose too much of their color.  Very heat tolerant – just like the Asian Long Bean – and you can grow ‘em in the same hardiness zones.  Once their growing takes off, there’s no stopping them.

Treat them like green beans and trellis them.  They’ll be ready for harvest in about 9 weeks.

Look to Stonysoil Seed Company for seeds with a high percentage of germination.


Christmas Pole Lima Bean

Christmas Pole Lima Bean by Stonysoil Seed Company

These extra large white beans, speckled with dark red splashes, take a little over 3 months before they’re ready to make the trip to your kitchen – but, the wait is well worth it.  Cook them into a rich, savory, creamy consistency or just boil some and smother with melted garlic butter.  Then, you’re ready to chow down on them – but, don’t forget to compliment them with some hot, homemade cornbread.

Christmas pole lima beans are old Southern favorites – with their characteristically sweet and nutty flavor.  It doesn’t get any better than this!  Exceedingly heat tolerant, as well as drought hardy – but, they’re gonna need an extra drink of water if you have a long spell between rains.  These beans are “canner” and “dehydrater” friendly – so, you can store them for over winter cookin’.  Grow them on a trellis. 

Believe it or not, Christmas pole lima beans were once made into jewelry!  How about that?

Stonysoil Seed Company produces quality seeds for these beauties.


Dragon Tongue Langerie Beans

Dragon Tongue Langerie Beans by BurpeeDragon Tongue Langerie Beans by Stonysoil









With dazzling yellow pods and purple streaks, these heirloom French beans are so tasty that your mouth will actually tingle.  These are half runner beans – explained in the green beans growing page.  And, they are stringless.

The best growing zones are 6 through 8 – but, don’t let that stop you.  If nothing else, plop the seeds in a container and bring them indoors if it’s too cool or too hot outside.  I like to prepare these just like I do with my regular green beans.  Their flavor and crispness can’t be beat!

Burpee and Stonysoil Seed Company have the best deals on these.


Scarlet Runner Beans

Scarlet Runner Beans by Outsidepride

Climbing to heights of nearly 12 feet, these decorative rascals can be grown just about anywhere – they are most successful in a wide section of hardiness zones – 3 through 11.  Bean pods get as much as 12 inches long and love being trellised – or crawlin’ all over the fence.

Boy, do these beans grow fast once they get a foothold in the garden!  The more often the beans are picked – the faster they will add new red and white flower blooms – and beans.

If any hummingbirds or butterflies are around, you’ll find them hangin’ out on these vines.

Outsidepride is my go-to source for these puppies.


Winged Bean

This one has a lot of aliases – asparagus pea, winged pea – Manila bean, princess bean, four angled bean – take your pick.  The seeds can be tricky to germinate so try gently sanding off some of the seed coating and soak them at least overnight first.

Winged beans don’t need much fertilizer – just a little 10-10-10 now and then.  Once the flowers start to form, dress them occasionally with some 0-0-60.  Trellis the vines – which will grow a dozen feet long.  They’re ready to pick when they are about 3 inches long.

Marde Ross & Company produces great winged bean seeds.

Winged Bean by Marde Ross & Company


A Poem By Jim, the Lifelong Gardener
Beans – Beans

Beans in Jim's cookin' pot.

Beans – beans – I love them a lot.

Especially, when they’re in my cookin’ pot.

Boil some up – it doesn’t take much time.

Eat too many if you want – it’s not a crime,


Beans – beans – a gift from the gods.

Nestled so gently in their eatable pods.

If someone don’t like them – they must be informed.

That eating these gems will help them weather any storm!


Beans – beans – tasty and crisp.

No matter how many I eat, I never lisp.

I enjoy them boiled, stewed – or fried with others.

Whatever way I want – I always have my druthers.


Well, I’m not much of a poet – and I know it!  But, at least, I gave it a try.  I hope my neighbor, Jed, the retired farmer doesn’t see my poem – I’ll never hear the end of it!

So, what do you think of these unusual delectables?  Comment below or email me about what’s on your mind.


Jim, the Lifelong Gardener


14 thoughts on “Rare Exotic Plants For The Backyard Garden – Part 1 – Beans

  1. Todd Matthews Reply

    The Dragon-tongued, scarlet runner, and winged beans look like something I know I can coax my dad into planting. His home garden has only grown since he started one back in 2014 and he’s always looking for new ideas, preferably greens, to plant. I’d definitely like to forward this article to him for a little more variety as winter fades into spring. I can’t wait to try these types of beans. 

  2. Kenechi Reply

    The Asian Long Beans look amazing. I have never seen such long beans before but, they a little like green beans. Are they all in the same class as green beans? Do they all have the same nutritional benefits?

    Another plant that captured my attention is the Chinese Red Bean. This is my first time of seeing such a deep red colored bean. I really want to try and see if it can grow in my country.

    • Jim Reply

      Hi Kenechi,

      As I talked about in the article, the Asian Long Beans are basically just a much longer version of the green beans that we know and love.  Grow them the same way – including trellising.  Nutrients?  They are almost identical to green beans.

      The first time I saw Chinese Red Beans, I thought they looked like Thai hot peppers but, they really are quite tasty!


  3. Juliet Reply

    Hi Jim, l really love your choice of plants for the exotic garden. Beans. The bean family seem to be so large and varied. The ones you have in the above photographs are all unique, each of them. Can all these beans grow in the garden or do some of them need certain temperature? Here’s an old poem with my twist:

    Bean porridge hot, Bean porridge cold, Bean porridge in the pot three days old.

    I like it hot, I like it cold, some like it in the pot three days old!

    • Jim Reply

      Hi Juliet,

      The majority of these beans can grow in any hardiness zone that green beans can be grown in – which pretty much means anywhere from zone 3 and higher.

      I can readily see that you are a much better poet than I am!



  4. Kehinde Segun Reply

    These vegetables are gorgeous. Thank you for putting together this list of such unique beans

    I love planting one-of-a-kind vegetables like this in the garden.  Besides putting attractive vegetables in my garden, I also get a good body workout and food, too.

    I like the Asian Long Beans the most.  They are very lovely and seem to be easy to plant. I am also interested in the Chinese red beans too.

    Thanks very much for showing these rare plants!

    • Jim Reply

      The long beans and the red beans are truly in a class of their own.

      You may also like to look at the second installment, Part 2 – Berries.  You will find many more distinctive and exceptional plants to adorn your garden.


  5. Ayodeji Reply

    Great write up for some rare plants I can put in my garden.

    I am thinking on going vegan for few months, and luckily I came across this article. I love beans and can hardly do without them. There are basically two types found in my area, but I have never came across as many varieties as I’ve seen here on your website.

    I really learned a lot from this!  It was very helpful.

    • Jim Reply

      Well, now you have a bunch of beans you can try to get you into the “vegan” mood.  Good luck with that.  I still gotta have my bacon and eggs – so, I won’t be joining the vegan lifestyle anytime soon.

      I will soon be adding a number of other articles on rare and exotic plants – so, stay tuned…


  6. Henry Reply

    Hi! I agree with you. After three or four years we’re mostly on autopilot concerning gardening. Doing exactly what everybody does.

    Doing something a bit uncommon and extraordinary would be really cool!

    I personally would love to plant Chinese Red Noodle Beans and Dragon Tongue Langerie Beans. I can’t wait to try these very tasty beans.

    Thank you very much for the idea.

    • Jim Reply

      Hi Henry,

      If nothing else, having some of these weird looking beans will be a great conversation piece!  My favorites are the Dragon Tongue Beans and the Winged Beans.  They go so well together!

      But, I have to say, those Christmas Pole Lima Beans are pretty cool, too, eh?


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