Growing green beans is a “snap” but sometimes your plants can get “bushed”. Seriously, when your green bean plant leaves are wilting, it can be a sign of several different problems. Familiarize yourself with the possibilities and you’ll be in a better position to react quickly to reverse the effects of wilting leaves before your green bean plants are seriously damaged.
Whenever we see wilting plants our natural assumption is they aren’t getting enough water. Obviously water is important to all plant life and green beans are no different. Without it, they are unable to make their own food and sustain life. Leaf wilt is the first sign of this problem. Give the plants a thorough, early morning soak. If the plants haven’t perked up by the end of the day, there may be another cause.
Another common problem can be an infestation of an insect. There are several that feed on bean plants which can cause this symptom. Groups of blister beetles are small flying insects that eat green bean leaves. As they chew, they secrete a toxin which burns and wilts the leaves. Leafhoppers cause leaves to take on a brown and crinkled appearance that can look like wilting at first glance. These insects usually move on once the plant is disturbed by movement.
If your soil is nitrogen-poor, your green bean leaves may suffer for it. A quick application of some 10-10-10 fertilizer may solve the problem. Read “The Effects of Fertilizer on Bean Plants” for more on this subject.
Green bean plants are susceptible to several diseases with wilting leaf symptoms. “Damping off” is caused by a fungus in the soil which limits root development so plants cannot take in enough water and nutrients. Blight is a bacterial infection that starts with lesions on the leaves. Later leaves turn brown and burnt-looking. Anthracnose is a cool, damp weather fungus that also creates lesions which lead to wilting. The most common disease causing wilt in green beans is Bean Mosaic Virus. Leaves turn downward in a cup shape.
Your best defense against any of these conditions is regular watering and care. Check on your green bean plants often and pay attention when you notice changes. Use caution and follow manufacturer’s instructions if you elect to use fungicides or pesticides.
Why Do Bean Plants Vary in Height?
The Effects of Fertilizer on Green Bean Plants
Cornell University: Virus of Dry and Snap Beans
University of Kentucky: Bean Diseases