Grow-Like-Magic Hyacinth Bean Vines

Lablab purpureus

Hyacinth beans germinate and grow so quickly, you'll think they're magic beans.

Hyacinth bean vines produce long bracts of shell-like purple flowers.
Hyacinth bean vines produce long bracts of shell-like purple flowers. | Source

Fast & Easy to Grow

Nutritious yet slightly poisonous, tropical yet ideal as an annual in temperate gardens, fast-growing yet not invasive—that’s the hyacinth bean vine (Dolichos lablab or Lablab purpureus), one of the easiest plants to grow for food or for decoration.

Out of Africa

Lablab purpureas is a tropical vine that probably originated in Africa. Today, it's grown as a food crop in some places there. Hyacinth bean vine is also cultivated throughout Asia. In temperate climates, it is considered a fast-growing annual.

Even out of its natural tropical element, hyacinth bean vine is a quick grower, producing long vines that drip bracts of shell-like purple flowers. Its glossy burgundy seed pods are both ornamental and edible.

The large, purple-tinted leaves of the hyacinth bean vine provide shade as well as beauty as they hang from sturdy, burgundy stems that twine and twirl along fences and walls and over arbors and trellises, extending up to 17 feet in a single growing season.

Immature hyacinth bean pods are edible.
Immature hyacinth bean pods are edible. | Source
Hyacinth bean vines grow over our back garden gate. Shasta daisies & zinnia bloom in the foreground. In the background is a flowering butterfly bush.
Hyacinth bean vines grow over our back garden gate. Shasta daisies & zinnia bloom in the foreground. In the background is a flowering butterfly bush. | Source

Easy to Save & Store

I enjoy growing hyacinth bean in part because my mother and my grandmother grew it. In fact, my first hyacinth bean vine seeds were given to me by my mother from her vines, which she started from seeds her mother had given to her.

When I see the purple stems of our hyacinth bean vine twine and climb our backyard fence, I recall how it looked on the trellis next to my grandmother’s back door and how it provided shade from the setting sun on my mother’s patio.

For me, growing hyacinth bean vine is a garden tradition, one I’m happy to keep.

As my mother and my grandmother did, I allow most of the pods to dry thoroughly on the vine in the fall and then collect them in paper bags.

I store the bags in a dry place over the winter (our garage) and break them open in spring, planting the seeds and discarding the shells.

Because they're so easy to save and grow, hyacinth bean vine is a perfect plant to pass along to family and friends.

Allow hyacinth bean pods to dry on the vine before collecting them in the fall.
Allow hyacinth bean pods to dry on the vine before collecting them in the fall. | Source

Edible Pods & Seeds

Although they are delicious, hyacinth beans and hyacinth bean pods contain small amounts of cyanide.

To enjoy the pods without getting sick, don't eat large amounts of them at one time. Also, be sure to select immature pods only, which are crunchy and sweet and delicious with vegetable dip or in a chopped salad.

Have you ever eaten hyacinth bean?

  • Yes, I've eaten the young seed pods.
  • Yes, I've had the cooked bean.
  • I've tried both the pods & the beans.
  • Nope, never tried either of them.
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To enjoy dried hyacinth beans themselves without harm, you must first separate them from the pod, soak them in water and rinse them well multiple times before cooking them.

I have never tried this, but people in tropical parts of Africa and throughout Asia commonly grow hyacinth bean as a food crop. Sometimes it's called Indian bean or Egyptian bean.

Easy to Maintain

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Our hyacinth bean vine in late spring.
Our hyacinth bean vine in late spring. | Source

In temperature climates, hyacinth bean vines can cover a fence, trellis or arbor in a single growing season.

For best results, plant the seeds in a full sun location. Hyacinth bean vine likes rich, loamy soil best but will tolerate other soil types, too. Feeding it every two weeks with a liquid fertilizer like fish fertilizer will also help it develop lush growth.

We plant hyacinth bean vine in our Zone 7 garden from seed in spring after the chance of frost has passed. By mid-summer the vines are big and beautiful with large shady leaves, sturdy stems and dangling pods and flowers that look lovely along our white picket fence.

In fall, after the first hard frost, we collect the last of the dried seed pods and compost the spent vines.

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© 2013 Jill

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24 comments

The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 2 years ago from United States Author

Hi Peggy! Hyacinth bean sure would grow beautifully down in Houston. Ours are coming up now and are about four inches tall. I don't have to worry about the deer munching them down. This year I planted the beans in a different spot for a big splash of color on a trellis in a landscaping island. Maybe sometime you'll give hyacinth bean vine a try. It's a pretty plant. Have a good one! --Jill


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

That is a really pretty vine plant which should do well down here in Houston. Most of our fence is covered with star jasmine or shrubs so I wound not have the room to grow these but found it interesting none-the-less. Thanks!


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 2 years ago from United States Author

Hi Dolores & Rebecca! Thanks so much for commenting. The hyacinth bean vine is a great annual plant--so pretty and such a fast grower. Can't wait to plant it again this spring. Keep warm! --Jill


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 2 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

I love it! It's always good to learn about good gardening and ladscaping plants. I definitely want to try hyacinth bean vime. Thanks!


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 2 years ago from East Coast, United States

Jill, the hyacinth beans are so pretty! What a lovely color. And your pictures are great, especially the one with the vines growing over the garden gate.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 2 years ago from United States Author

Hi Patricia & Marie! Thanks for commenting on this hub. The hyacinth bean vine is a tropical plant, so I'm sure it would grow like gangbusters in FLA. Wish you guys lived close by so I could give you some. They really produce lots of pods! All the best, Jill


Marie Flint profile image

Marie Flint 2 years ago from Jacksonville, FL

This ornamental bean reminds me a little of wisteria. I may just decide to try this at the trellis in the front yard. I planted morning glories there, and they bloomed, but they weren't as lush as I would like. The hired gardener accidentally cut some of the plants, too. This hyacinth bean, I think, will cover that trellis nicely. I love gardening, too. Thank you for sharing. Voted Useful and Beautiful.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 2 years ago from sunny Florida

Hi Jill

This will look so gorgeous on my fence ...as soon as we are through winter I will be adding this to my yard. I have lots and lots of fence line that will be a great place for this lovely to drape herself.

thanks for sharing....I hope all is good with you and yours and that you are enjoying this most wonderful time of the year.

Angels are on the way to you....ps Shared and pinned


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Thanks, Glimmer Twin Fan! The vine will attach itself to anything really--a fence, a wall, even other plants. I'm sure it would take to your lamp post! Nice to hear from you as always, Jill


Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

I just love your hubs. This is so beautiful and would really be a lovely addition to any garden. Unfortunately I don't have a place for the height, unless I put it around my lightpost. I love the color and the interest of the pods.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Hi Roberta! Already planning next year's garden, huh? Me, too! Nice to hear from you. --Jill


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

How pretty every part of this plant is! Thanks for highlighting it for us. Now I need to find a sunny spot and plan for spring… :)


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Hi Deb! Thanks for your comments. Hope you're gathering up seed this fall, too. I bet you run across lots of wildflower seed as you're out taking photos.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

Truly, the best things in life are free. Where else can one see things as lush and beautiful as this? So glad that your grandmother started this tradition, and I know that you have passed it on to your immediate family, too. Great work, and keep nature natural.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Sometimes I rent him out on weekends, but he doesn't come cheap. lol


grandmapearl profile image

grandmapearl 3 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

Wow, Jill! If that's not your husband's regular job, he's got a whole new career! Love the design and look of your gate--does he ever come to New York State?!

;) Pearl


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Sounds wonderful, Eddy! Thanks so much.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Hi Pearl! Even though it's tropical, you should be able to grow hyacinth in Zone 5 as an annual--and then pass the pods on to your friends. The first hard frost will kill it. Butterflies and moths like it, but I've never noticed many bees. I'll pass along your compliment about the gate to my husband. He designed & built it himself. (Aren't I lucky?) Take care! Always good to hear from you. --Jill


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

A beautiful and so interesting hub Jill.

Voted up and shared onto my FB A Brand New Dawn.

Eddy.


grandmapearl profile image

grandmapearl 3 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

Lovely article, Jill! Now this is one I've never tried, but after reading your excellent hub, I definitely will. Two questions, do birds or butterflies enjoy this vine? Since it is a native of Africa, I was just wondering how it would do in my Zone 5 yard?

I love that you are continuing the tradition from your grandmother and mother. Oh, by the way, if you should find your garden gate missing--I borrowed it for awhile! What a beautiful garden entrance ;) Pearl

Voted Up++++ and pinned


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Hi Ginger! Thanks & yes, they're edible. They really pretty up a salad. Just don't eat too many! (You'd get a tummy ache.) Glad you stopped by. All the best, Jill


ExpectGreatThings profile image

ExpectGreatThings 3 years ago from Illinois

Your photos are stunning! I love hyacinths. I never realized they were easy to grow. And I certainly didn't know they were edible! Thanks for writing. - Ginger


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Hi purl3agony! They really are gorgeous, aren't they? They look like they'd be a lot of trouble to take care, too, but they're absolutely super easy to grow. Hope you can try them in your yard someday. Always good to hear from you. Take care, Jill


purl3agony profile image

purl3agony 3 years ago from USA

Gosh, these plants are beautiful! I don't think I've ever seen this flower or the pods before. You always post great information about so many wonderful things to add to our garden. Thanks!

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