How to Grow Dolichos Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Hyacinth Bean, Sarawak Bean and Lablab

Dolichos are half hardy perennials plants that are usually grown as half hardy annuals in the garden.

These shrubby climbers may reach nine metres (30 feet) in height.

Hyacinth bean
Dolichos lablab - Hyacinth bean picture by Bcballard

The Dolichos plant blooms with pea-like flowers. These are of purple, yellow or white. Blooming occurs from summer until the first frost of winter.

Some of the more common names for Dolichos include Hyacinth bean, Lablab, Bonavist, and Sarawak bean.

Commonly Grown Dolichos Plant Species (Hyacinth Bean Pictures)

Dolichos lablab / Lablab purpureus (Hyacinth Bean)

The Dolichos lablab plant (also known as Lablab purpureus) is a climbing or trailing vine that can grow up to 20 feet (6 m) in height. It is notable for its beautiful dark purple flowers and glossy purple pods, giving it a unique appearance.

Dolichos lablab
Close up of Dolichos lablab - Hyacinth bean by Bcballard

Commonly grown as an ornamental plant in gardens for its vibrant coloration. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It is also a valuable crop in tropical regions due to its high protein content and adaptability to varying soil conditions.

Dolichos trilobus (Three-lobed Dolichos)

The Dolichos trilobus plant is a perennial vine. It can reach up to about 15 feet (4.5 m) in height. Three-lobed Dolichos is unique in its appearance, as it features trifoliate leaves and yellow flowers.

Dolichos trilobus
Dolichos trilobus (Lablab Bean / Three lobed Dolichos), photograph by Dr. Alexey Yakovlev; CC.

It is grown mainly for its aesthetic appeal and climbing habit. The plant enjoys sunny locations with well-draining soil. The plant blooms during the summer months. In some regions, it is also grown for its edible seeds.

Dolichos purpureus / Lablab purpureus(Purple Dolichos)

The Dolichos purpureus, now considerd a synomyn of Dolichos lablab, and reclassified as Lablab purpureus, is a species is a vining plant that grows up to ten feet (3 m) tall. It is marked by its distinctive, deep purple flowers and elongated, flat pods.

Dolichos lablab
Lablab-purpureus - Hyacinth bean by Forest and Kim Starr

Its vibrant colors make it a popular choice for ornamental use in gardens. It should be planted in a sunny, well-drained area. Purple Dolichos blooms in the summer. It is cultivated for its edible pods in some parts of teh world.

Dolichos biflorus (Horse Gram)

Dolichos biflorus, now possibly classified as being in the Macrotyloma genus, can reach about 12 inches (30 cm) in height. It is a creeping annual herb with small, yellow flowers. Horse Gram has edible seeds, these are popular in Indian cuisine.

This plant is grown in gardens for culinary use. It is also a useful drought tolerant plant. Plants typically bloom in late summer to early autumn. It can grow in a variety of soils, so long as it is in a sunny location.

Dolichos lablab v alba Cultivar (White Hyacinth Bean)

The cultivar Dolichos lablab 'Alba' (Lablab purpureus 'Alba')is a striking climbing or trailing vine. It is able to reach a height of up to 20 feet (6 m). What sets White Hyacinth Bean apart from the parent species is its display of pure white flowers, and light green pods.

Dolichos lablab v alba Cultivar
Dolichos lablab v alba Cultivar (White Hyacinth bean), picture by 阿橋 HQ; CC.

Often grown as an ornamental plant, its contrasting coloration is great for adding a unique visual appeal to gardens.

Grow in a location that has full sun and well-drained soil conditions. In addition to its ornamental uses, it is also valued in certain regions for its edible beans.

How to Grow Hyacinth Bean (Dolichos Bean)

If planting outdoors, then simply sow the Dolichos seeds into a sunny area of the garden. Do this after the last frost of spring. Simply cover the seed with a light dusting of soil once sown.

When growing Hyacinth bean (and other Dolichos plants) indoors first, then you will first need to soak the seeds for a day in warm water before sowing.

They will require about two weeks to one month to germinate at a temperature of about 21 degrees Centigrade (70°F).

Once the seedlings are ready, after about 7 or 8 weeks, they can be transplanted into the garden. Use a spacing of about 60 to 90 cm (two to three feet).

Caring for Hyacinth Beans and other Dolichos Plants in the Garden

As Hyacinth Dolichos Lablab beans are climbers, they will require a trellis for support when growing.

Dolichos can only really be reliably grown from seed, so don't attempt to take cuttings or to divide plants.

Dolichos Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Hyacinth Bean, Lablab, Sarawak Bean, Seim Bean, Indian Bean, Australian pea, Dolichos Bean, Itab.
Life Cycle: Hardy perennial usually grown as a hardy annual by gardeners. Hardy biennial.
Height: 360 inches (900 cm).
Native: Tropical regions; Borneo.
Growing Region: Zones 3 to 10. As a perennial in zones 9 and 10.
Flowers: Summer to the first frost.
Flower Details: Purple, white. Pea-like.
Foliage: Leaflets in threes. Purplish-green or green. Triangular or oval.
Sow Outside: Cover seeds. Following last frost. Spacing: 30 to 40 inches (75 to 100 cm).
Sow Inside: Soak seeds for one day. Peat pots. Germination time: two to four weeks. Temperature 70°F (21°C). Seven or eight weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors following the last frost.
Requirements: Full sunlight. Good drainage. Rich soil. Moist soil. Provide trellis. Drought tolerant.
Family: Fabaceae / Leguminosae.
Miscellaneous: Has attractive flat and curved red or pale green pods.

Common Questions

How many members does the Dolichos genus have?

The Dolichos genus consists of approximately 60 species.

Do members of Dolichos make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Dolichos species like the Hyacinth Bean (Dolichos lablab) can add unique beauty and visual interest to a garden with their vibrant flowers and pods.

Which Dolichos species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

The Hyacinth Bean (Dolichos lablab) is the most popularly grown species among gardeners.

How do I plant Dolichos beans?

Sow Dolichos bean seeds directly in well-draining soil, 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) deep, spaced 3-4 inches (7.6-10.2 cm) apart, after the danger of frost has passed and when the soil has warmed to at least 60°F (15.5°C).

Are members of the Dolichos plant genus fragrant?

Dolichos lablab has fragrant flowers, adding another layer of appeal to its presence in the garden.

What is the perfect location to grow Dolichos?

Dolichos prefers a sunny location with well-drained soil.

Is Dolichos invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Currently, Dolichos species are not considered invasive in the USA.

How do I remove Dolichos plants from my garden?

Remove Dolichos by digging up the plant, ensuring to remove all roots to prevent regrowth.


The Dolichos genus, often known as Hyacinth Bean, contains around 60 species of flowering plants native to tropical regions. These are usually climbing or twining plants with trifoliate leaves and pea-like flowers. Blooming is followed by ornamental seed pods in many species.

Dolichos plants prefer to grow in full sunlight and require a soil with good drainage. They can be grown from seeds, which should be soaked before planting to aid germination.

These vines need support to climb, and they can make a striking addition to fences, trellises, or archways. While some species of this genus produce edible beans, others may be toxic, and should be grown with caution.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Dolichos plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ Fabaceae growing guides: How to grow Cercis occidentalis and Phaseolus plants.