Garden Respect: Lima Beans Have Their Day in the Sun

It’s possible that lima beans may not be your favorite vegetable. But they should be. Especially on Saturday, April 20 - it’s Lima Bean Respect Day!

These super-nutritious legumes often do not get the love they deserve, but for at least one day out of the year, let’s talk about lima beans and give them a little respect. 

They’re incredibly good for you, filled with fiber, potassium, iron, and manganese. They’re low fat and contain protease inhibitors that some believe stall the development of cancer.

Named after Lima, Peru, where people have been cultivating them since 6000 B.C., they’re a pale green legume with a creamy texture and buttery flavor. That’s why they’re also known as butter beans. And there are two kinds - babies and Fordhooks.

What’s not to love about all that? 

It’s possible that the reason why the words “lima bean” can evoke a somewhat negative reaction is due to the bland, grainy texture of the canned lima beans people have been eating. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Garden-fresh lima beans grow in much the same way green beans do, although they may take a bit longer to mature.

Add them to your garden

  • Lima beans are a warm-season crop that should be planted in late spring, after the last frost has been over for about two weeks. 
  • The planting site should have lots of direct sun. You can do a raised bed or a container as well. Just don’t plant them near members of the Allium family (onions, leeks, garlic, scallions) because that hinders lima beans’ root growth. 
  • Plant the seeds about 1-inch deep, 2-4 inches apart. Rows should be spaced 2-3 feet apart. You should see seeds emerge in about three weeks. 
  • They need full sun and well-draining soil. They need regular moisture, but don’t let them get soggy. They’ll need about one inch of water per week. They don’t need fertilizer. If you live in a warm climate, you could have a bountiful lima bean harvest. 

There are two types of lima bean plants: bush and pole. They both range from 3-15 feet in height, and each leaf has three leaflets. The half flowers are small and self-pollinate.

In the summer, the flowers bloom and die, and in their place, 3-8-inch pods form that contain 2-4 lima bean seeds. Bush lima beans have smaller seeds and take less time, but the larger pole beans need 60-100 days. They’re ready to harvest in the fall. Pole beans climb, so be sure you have enough vertical space for them or add a trellis to your garden bed.

Celebrate Lima Bean Respect Day with a delightful dish

Here’s a simple recipe featuring lima beans that is sure to be a hit. Serve over rice or corned bread.


  • 1 pound package of Camellia Brand Large Lima Beans
  • 5 slices bacon, roughly chopped
  • 1 larged chopped onion
  • 1 ham hock
  • 8-10 cups chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper


  • Rinse the lima beans.
  • In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon till crisp.
  • Add chopped onion to bacon grease in the pot. Stir together 5 minutes.
  • Add the beans, ham hock, and enough broth to cover the beans.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, till beans are tender. Keep covered, and add more liquid as needed.
  • Remove the ham hock from the pot, shred it, and add the meat back in.
  • Season and serve.

Lima beans are highly nutritious and can increase your energy levels by helping your body restore more iron. You may have tried them and not liked them as a child, but it’s time to give them a second chance. Try them in a stew, soup, casserole, or mixed with other vegetables.








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