No pods on broad beans

Some gardeners are concerned because their peas are producing pods while their broad beans are not, although the plants are producing lots of flowers.
There is a difference in pollination methods between these two legumes. Garden peas are self-pollinating, and pollination occurs before the flowers open, so failure of pods to form is due either to cold or light frost damaging the blossoms, or the weather being too warm.
According to the Seed Savers’ Handbook, broad beans are partly self-pollinated and partly cross-pollinated, but we have noticed that our broad beans don’t form pods until bees are around. If it is too cold or too windy for bees to be out and about, the flowers die off without forming pods. Broad beans are also reluctant to set pods when the weather is too warm, but if it is still cool enough for peas to form pods, the problem is more likely to be a lack of insect activity. Keep the soil damp and give them a drink of seaweed extract tea. The potassium in that does help fruit/seed production. Oh, and make sure the bed is mulched – apply it early in the morning to keep the soil cooler for them.
There is a theory that removing the growing tips when they start to flower helps pod set. I have tried removing the growing tips on half of the plants and leaving the rest to grow naturally. It didn’t make any noticeable difference to pod setting.
If your broad bean plants haven’t been setting pods, get a medium-sized (about No 5) artist’s paint brush with soft bristles, and use it dry to ‘tickle’ the inside of the flowers to spread some pollen. If that doesn’t produce results, Have a chat with your seed supplier.

5 thoughts on “No pods on broad beans

  1. I try to grow broad-beans in a greenhouse because I have problems with fruit fly’s what damaged my tomatoes all the time and now I have built a greenhouse to solve the problems with fruit fly’s
    Now I’m wondering if the broad beans I try to grow in the green house need bees to pollenate the flowers and if so what can I do solve this problem.
    I live in Queensland Hervey Bay.

    Hi Gerrit, broad beans are a cool season vegetable so, in your area, you would only be able to grow then in the coldest months. This is even more important if you are growing them in a greenhouse, as the tepmerature is usually slightly warmer in greenhouses. It is not that bees are needed to pollinate the flowers, as broad beans are self pollinating. Pollen is released the night before the flowers open and insects (usually bees) shake the flowers as they enter and this distributes the pollen. Windy weather can have a similar effect. However, as it says in the article, you can do the work of insects by using a soft, dry paintbrush to pollinate.

  2. My broad bean plants have heaps of flowers and bees but no beans the flowers are dyeing off were am I going wrong
    I apologise for the delay in replying Maddy. I somehow missed the notification of your question.
    First, you need to make sure your broad beans have a soil containing plenty of calcium, magnesium and potash. The soil pH should be close to neutral (7), and well-watered. If the cause is not lack of bee activity due to cold or windy weather, and you have given them a drink of seaweed extract tea, has the weather been hot as flowers were forming? If so, mix 1 tablespoon of agricultural lime into a full bucket of water and use it to spray the flowers in the evening. It is getting too warm for pods to form this year, but I offer this advice for future crops. Or, you may have to resort to hand-pollinating your broad ban flowers. – Lyn

  3. Thanks 🙂 I was wondering why I have no broad beans yet (first time grower). I might try the paintbrush. Lots of bees the last couple of days though, so maybe soon 🙂

    I hope so, Liz. Don’t forget to pick them while they are young, when the flavour is best. – Lyn

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