Scarlet Runner Beans are not legumes, they are a piece of history. The red and white variety “Painted Lady” was grown in the kitchen gardens as early as 1750. In the beginning people cultivated them for their highly decorative flowers and seed pods, and only later figured out they were good to eat. The flowers are beautiful enough to compete with the sweet peas. They are not fragrant, but they are gorgeous vibrant shades of red, white and purple. The seed pods turn an intense coppery purple in the fall, and inside you will find beans that range from monochrome to calico combinations of purple, red and white.
The plants don’t like the heat and will put off yielding seeds till later in the season, when the weather turns cooler. For some varieties the bean pods grow up to a foot long. The beautiful flowers attract humming birds.