Purple Beans: A Hummingbird Attraction

Monday, August 28, 2006

The most beautiful flowers in my garden right now are those of the Ruby Moon hyacinth bean vines that I planted along the fence. They're putting on a gorgeous show of color, as other plants in the garden begin to fade.

All parts of the Ruby Moons are purple -- the stems, the veins of the leaves, the flowers and the bean pods. My husband and I first saw these in New Hampshire, and, though I included them in our garden as an ornamental, I was curious to know whether the beans are edible. I am glad I checked because it turns out that they are poisonous at certain stages of their growth. They're apparently not poisonous to deer, though, which have been making regular visits to munch on the leaves that stick out from the front fence.

What I didn't realize when I planted these was that they are a wonderful attraction for hummingbirds. I adore hummingbirds. In the first two years at the community garden, I'd never seen one; this year was the first time. It hovered briefly by the Ruby Moons, and I was so in awe that the synapses in my brain failed to fire a signal to pick up the camera and snap a photo. I think it was a "deer in the headlights" moment. I love those little birds and it was so special to see one at my garden.

Now I've been seeing hummingbirds -- there are at least two of them -- that visit regularly. Yesterday I spent some time (a lot of time) trying to get a few photos of them.

I've already decided that I will include Ruby Moons in my garden next year, not only because they're gorgeous and easy to grow (and drought-tolerant), but also for the hummingbirds.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

They're beautiful! Thanks for sharing the photos with us.

7:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gorgeous photos, Christa -- thanks for sharing them!

The Inadvertent Gardener

11:14 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Hi Christa, Thanks for stopping by my blog thus leading me to yours. Great photos! I'll be visiting often.

1:13 PM  
Blogger JMom said...

those are beautiful! I'm glad to hear hummingbirds like them. I'll have to get some for next year. We have a couple of hummingbirds that have been hanging around our backyard all summer. it will be nice to have something just for them.

5:57 PM  
Blogger iml said...

First time I've seen purple beans! So delightful to the eye. Are they suited for tropical condition?

10:21 PM  
Blogger Christa said...

The beans are an annual plant and they thrive in the hot weather here, so yes, they probably would work in tropical areas, too.

7:17 AM  
Blogger Sue Swift said...

I've been admiring those beans in other people's gardens for years, but have never known what they're called. do you by any chance know the latin name, which would help me to find out what they're called in Italian?

4:33 PM  
Blogger Silvia Hoefnagels . Salix Tree said...

I think the scientific name is Dolichos. What beauties! Did you grow them from seed?

5:11 PM  
Blogger Christa said...

Salix Tree is correct. The latin name is Dolichos lablab. There is more information about them here. I did plant them from seed and they were very easy to grow. I didn't even fertilize them and they grew fast once the weather got warm.

11:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We've grown these beans for years, saving seed and replanting in the spring. The great thing is they are a trailing, climbing vine, but do not attach themselves like ivy does and cleans up nicely once the weather gets cold. This year we grew the seeds up an old wooden ladder in the garden - beautiful!

8:49 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I started this Purple Bean(Dolichos - didn't know the name until now) from seeds . I initially planted this thinking they were regular edible green beans. My plant looks exactly like what you have in pic. I wish these were edible. The flowers are really beautiful. Do you by any chance know if these beans would be useful in any ways.

7:39 PM  
Blogger Christa said...

I've read that some people eat these beans cooked. There was a warning on the seed packet that said the beans are poisonous (when dried), so I do not take any chances with them. I use them only as an ornamental.

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have grown Ruby Moon this year (2008) from seed in not so sunny Cheshire. They reallly look amazing.
Thanks for the warning about being poisonous. Will treat them as kidney beans (i. e. boil for 15 mins before eating.) There wasn't any warning on the packet of seeds, so it's fortunate I read your comments. Thanks.
Sarah W.

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My boyfriend and I were out riding bikes one day and I passed this fence with these purple beans growing all over the fence line, they really stood out and made the green leaves look greener. I gathered a few dried beans that had fallen on the ground and planted them the next day. Now I too have these beautiful vines for my yard. Do they come back each year? Or will I need to plant them again?

7:54 PM  

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