Scarlet Emperor runner beans are an interesting variety, producing deep red flowers that are very attractive as a screen in either vegetable or flower gardens. The beans have a great flavor, and as a bonus, the flowers are edible and can be an interesting addition to salads.
Read on to learn more about Scarlet Emperor runner beans, from how to put them on your home menu to growing them in your backyard.
Characteristics of Scarlet Emperor Runner Beans
Scarlet Emperor is an heirloom variety of runner bean, meaning that its special characteristics — its red-orange flower clusters and its beans, good for both fresh eating and drying for later kitchen use — have made it a consistently popular choice for the home garden.
Due to its popularity, Scarlet Emperor — also referred to as “Scarlet Runner” — has developed to thrive in a variety of conditions. It does best in cooler climates, but can grow across much of the United States, from the West Coast through the South and into the Northeast.
Scarlet Emperor matures in less than two months, producing an abundance of long, flat pods filled with colorful beans. It’s technically a perennial variety, but is most commonly grown as an annual, with new seeds planted each year.
How to Use Scarlet Emperor Runner Beans
If you’re growing Scarlet Emperor solely for its colorful flowers and lush foliage as an attractive screening plant for your garden, you should think twice.
Scarlet Emperor beans are easy to incorporate into the home diet. Early on, the beans can be eaten raw, with a taste described as both sweet and rich. Later, they can be cooked just like other beans. Or, left to mature, they can be used as a dried bean.
Scarlet Emperor beans can add flavor to chili, stews, and soups. If you’d like to try some recipes, you’ll find a few at Health Benefits Times.
Health Benefits of Scarlet Emperor Runner Beans
While you’re enjoying the addition of Scarlet Emperor runner beans to your diet — if you don’t grow them at home, check in your local grocery stores or farmers’ markets — you should know they provide a number of health benefits.
First, they have antioxidant properties, meaning that they can protect your body from “free radicals” — molecules that damage cells — and can also help in maintaining a healthy heart.
Beyond that, Scarlet Emperor runner beans are a good source of Vitamin K, which is important for bone health and can also ensure that blood clots properly in the event of injury.
Additionally, Scarlet Emperor runner beans offer significant levels of dietary fiber, which can lower the level of bad cholesterol in the bloodstream.
Growing Scarlet Emperor Runner Beans
If you have an aspiring young gardener in your family, Scarlet Emperor runner beans could be a great introduction to gardening, as the large size of the seeds make them easy for young fingers to handle.
Seeds should be placed in the ground during the late spring or early summer. If you’d like to get a bit of a head start, you can plant seeds indoors and move the young plants into your garden space.
Seeds should be placed two inches deep in the garden at around four inches apart to minimize overcrowding during growth. Locate your Scarlet Emperor plants in a place that gets six hours of direct sun daily.
Scarlet Emperor Runner Beans Need Support
Because Scarlet Emperor runner beans are a vining plant, you’ll need to provide some sort of support for them, and you should expect the plants to grow as tall as several feet high.
The traditional means of supporting runner beans is to interlace bamboo poles diagonally across each row of beans, approximately two feet apart, to a height of around six feet.
Otherwise, growing Scarlet Emperor runner beans is fairly straightforward. Simply ensure that the vines get at least an inch of water each week. Installing a layer of mulch around the plants will ensure that the soil remains moist with proper watering.
Among the pests you might find among your Scarlet Emperor runner beans are the black bean aphid, slugs and snails.
Aphids are small insects that damage plants by sucking sap from stems and leaves, potentially reducing your bean yield or even spoiling your bean plants. If you see a number of small black insects on your plants, you may have a black bean aphid infestation.
To get rid of the aphids, you can knock them off plants with a strong spray of water. You should then pinch off the infected parts of your plants, and spray the plants with neem oil.
Slugs and snails feed on young plants and can be identified by the slime trail they leave on the ground and on plant leaves. Installing barriers around your bean plot, including sawdust or copper tape, can help control them.
A very common disease among beans, including Scarlet Emperor, is the fungal infestation called powdery mildew. Starting out as small powdery spots on leaves, it can, in severe cases, cause leaves to turn brown and die.
Powdery mildew may not kill your bean plants, but it can make them less productive. One way to help prevent powdery mildew is to water your plants early in the day, giving the sun plenty of time to dry them.
Once powdery mildew does show up, spraying a compost tea onto affected leaves may help limit the damage.
Another disease that could affect your bean plants is anthracnose. It appears initially as small spots of various colors on older leaves, but can quickly spread throughout plants.
If your bean patch is affected by anthracnose, you should immediately remove diseased plants. But preventing the disease is the best strategy, and can be accomplished by ensuring good air circulation among your plants, and cleaning out your planting area in the fall.
Where to Buy Scarlet Emperor Runner Beans
As a popular variety of runner beans, seeds for Scarlet Emperor are widely available. You can order them online from one of our favorite online retailers for seeds, Hoss Tools.
Add Scarlet Emperor Runner Beans to Your Garden!
We hope this post has been a great introduction to the Scarlet Emperor runner bean, and that it has inspired you to include this bean in your diet, and maybe even to try growing it yourself.
For more on all kinds of beans, check out our Bean Plants page for all our bean-related blog posts and growing guides.