If you’re looking to add a delicious vegetable in the lima bean family to your family garden, you should consider the Henderson lima bean. Henderson lima beans, also known as phaseolus Vulgaris, are bush beans that have been around for more than a century and are loved for their durability and adaptability.
If you want to know more about the Henderson lima bean and where to get your own, you’ve come to the right place.
A Brief History
The Henderson lima bean was first discovered in 1883 on the side of the road in Lynchburg, VA. While it was enjoyed by locals, the bean didn’t see widespread popularity until 1888, when it was cultivated and introduced in the state of New York by Peter Henderson.
While lima beans originally come from Peru and other South American countries, they’ve been in the United States for hundreds of years. However, it’s unknown how the Henderson lima bean got to a roadside ditch in Lynchburg, VA or who planted it there.
It was Henderson and the company he founded, Peter Henderson & Company, who first explored the possibilities of the Henderson lima bean. It was one of the first bean varieties that didn’t require poles for support, which made it wildly popular for gardeners.
Characteristics of the Henderson Lima Bean
The Henderson lima bean is of the dwarf variety and is beloved for its resilience and adaptability. No matter where this bean has been taken or planted, it has adapted readily and eagerly to the conditions.
The only instance when Henderson lima beans struggle is in cold ones where the soil temperatures are routinely less than 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Henderson lima bean is also known as the Henderson Bush Lima Butter Bean because of its distinct, buttery taste. While many lima bean varieties have a similar buttery flavor, Henderson’s is more pronounced and smoother.
As such, it’s one of the few lima beans that are enjoyed by the masses freshly picked without any doctoring or additives. The flavor of this bean can also be described as slightly sweet with subtle notes of starchiness and nuttiness.
Like all lima beans, Henderson lima beans are held inside a protective outer shell similar to that of a pea pod. The outer shell is green and hard, and the stems at the top and bottom of the shells are dark green or black.
Inside the green pods, you’ll find creamy white lima beans. The beans are very small and are more the shape of a sunflower seed than a traditional bean.
The bushes on which the beans grow are also green with wooden stems and green leaves.
While Henderson lima beans are arguably the most popular type of lima bean, they’re also one of the smallest. The beans are contained within a three to four-inch shell that’s flat and coarse.
Inside each shell, you’ll find between three and five individual lima beans that are also flat and anywhere from a quarter inch to a half inch in length.
Henderson lima beans and their shells are small and the bushes on which they grow are no different. They can be anywhere from eighteen to twenty-four inches tall and wide.
While these numbers can vary from year to year, Henderson lima bean bushes are small enough that they rarely require support poles.
Best Ways to Consume the Henderson Lima Bean
The Henderson lima bean is wildly popular, not only because of how easy they are to grow but also because of its delicious taste. They’re one of few beans that are delicious when they’re eaten raw, which you can do right off the bush.
If you don’t want to eat them raw, these lima beans are also great for canning and long-term storage. You can also add them to salads, casseroles, soups, or anything else that needs a beany, buttery taste.
Henderson lima beans aren’t just a delicious treat that you can enjoy any which way you want. They’re also extremely healthy and have the following benefits.
- They’re jam-packed with fiber, protein, and numerous other nutrients.
- Very low in sugar which makes them a favorite for people with diabetes.
- Because they’re high in fiber, these lima beans are great for preventing constipation and maintaining healthy bowels.
- They have a low fat content, which means they’re good for your heart, arteries, and veins.
- High in iron, making them ideal for people who are anemic.
- Other nutrients that this bean has includes manganese, copper, phosphorous, thiamine, folate, and molybdenum.
Growing and Caring for the Henderson Lima Bean
If you’re looking to grow your own Henderson lima beans rather than purchase them at the store, Minneopa Orchards has the information you need.
Because Henderson lima bean bushes tend to spread up to around 18″ wide, you’ll want to plant your bushes two to three feet apart. This will give you room to maneuver between bushes to pick the beans during harvest season.
Any open area where they can get maximum sunlight is perfect for Henderson lima beans.
Lima beans grow best when they’re planted in soil that’s organic, heavy in nutrients, and that drains well. You may also want to add fertilizer to the soil periodically and ensure that the soil temperature never drops below 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Planting Depth and Time to Maturity
You should plant the seeds at least 1″ deep and give them plenty of water without overwatering them. Your seeds should mature in 65 to 80 days if you don’t overwater them.
When to Harvest
The nice thing about Henderson lima beans is that it’s pretty easy to know when to harvest them. The seed pods will turn from dark green to a lighter green, feeling firm to the touch.
If you wait until the pods turn yellow to harvest them, you’ve waited too long. Harvesting time is usually 65 to 70 days, but you should start checking them around day 60 and up to day 80.
Where to Purchase Your Own Henderson Lima Beans
If you’re looking for some of the best Henderson lima bean seeds on the market, look no further than Hoss Tools. Hoss also has all the soil, fertilizer, and planting equipment you’ll need to plant and harvest your beans!
Final Thoughts on Henderson Lima Beans
Whether you’re an avid grower or want to eat healthier foods, the Henderson lima bean is an absolute must. They’re one of the best beans to add to your diet if you value delicious flavor, quality nutrition, and a healthy diet.
Want to learn more about beans? Visit our bean plants page to discover more about beans!