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The Complete Guide to Growing Cucumbers

Do you want to start growing crisp, delicious cucumbers in your backyard? With the proper knowledge, you can grow bucket-loads of cucumbers for pickles and salads galore!

In this guide, we will discuss the top tips for growing cucumbers. Plus, get some insight into which cucumber variety is right for you.

Eastern Asian style cucumbers on a plant.

The Backyard Gardening Guide to Growing Cucumbers

Growing cucumbers is simple and straightforward, even for beginner backyard gardeners. These home garden staples come in many varieties, so with some research, you’re sure to find the right one for you.

When selecting the perfect cucumber variety, you must consider your growing location and personal tastes. If you’re unsure, stop by your local farmers market and try as many cucumber varieties as possible.

It helps if you’ve explored a few main types of varieties before growing cucumbers. Understanding which characteristics you want can help you choose the best cucumbers for you and your family.

American Cucumbers

American style cucumbers on a plant.

American slicers are crisp, medium-sized cucumbers great for eating fresh as slicing cucumbers. When fully mature these cukes range from six to eight inches long.

Middle Eastern Cucumbers

Persian Cucumbers.

Middle Eastern cucumber (or Persian cucumber) varieties are generally a bit shorter than American slicers. These mild cucumber varieties are great for making sauces and soups.

Eastern Asian Cucumbers

Japanese cucumbers on a plant.

Eastern Asian cucumbers, also called Japanese cucumbers, are typically long and slender. They are distinctively sweet and have thin, fragile skin.

Pickling Cucumbers

Small, gherkin pickling cucumbers on a plant.

Are you growing cucumbers to make pickles? If so, you should check out some popular pickling cucumber varieties. These gherkins are short and plump when mature and they stay crisp after pickling.


Choosing the Right Location for Growing Cucumbers

Did you know that cucumbers are tropical plants? This means you should select a warm, sunny spot for growing cucumbers at home.

Small pickling cucumbers.

Cucumber plants need full-sun exposure throughout the growing season. They also require plenty of moisture and exceptional drainage.

Be aware that cucumber plants like warm weather but not excessive heat. Suppose you live in an area that exceeds 90° Fahrenheit for multiple weeks. In that case, you should plant your cucumbers in partial shade.


Tips for Perfect Cucumber-Growing Soil

Small cucumbers on a vine.

Cucumber plants require airy soil with excellent drainage. You should conduct a soil test to achieve the perfect plot for growing cucumbers.

Ensure the ground where you are planting cucumber seeds is neutral to alkaline with a pH of around 7- 7.5. Add calcium carbonate to raise the pH if needed.

You should also mix in a bit of sand to achieve the loamy consistency that cucumber plants love. Use a hand rake to break up the native soil and evenly incorporate coarse sand to improve drainage.


The Best Fertilizer for Growing Cucumbers

Smooth-skinned cucumber on a vine.

Should you add fertilizer when growing cucumber plants? After you conduct a soil test, you will understand whether you need to add more minerals and nutrients.

Generally, these heavy feeders can suffer from mid-season nitrogen deficiencies. If your cucumber plants’ leaves start to shrivel and turn yellow, you can add nitrogen to boost healthy foliage development.

The best way to fertilize cucumber plants is by splitting applications across early spring and mid-summer.

First, mix all-natural granular fertilizer into the soil before sowing cucumber seeds.

Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer is an ideal all-purpose choice suitable for early-season applications.

This slow-release organic fertilizer will give your cucumbers the headstart that they need.

Once your cucumber plants mature and produce buds, you should switch to a fruiting and flowering fertilizer.

FoxFarm Happy Frog Fruit & Flower Fertilizer delivers certified-organic nutrients with an extra boost of phosphorus for growing cucumbers.

This mixture will provide your budding cucumber plants with the essential minerals they need to produce plump cucumbers.


Watering Cucumber Plants

Watering cucumber seedlings in a garden.
Watering cucumber seedlings.

You must be mindful of soil moisture levels when growing cucumbers outdoors. These plants thrive in airy, well-draining soil but need plentiful moisture to produce big, crisp cucumbers.

If your cucumbers are planted outdoors in the ground, provide them with approximately one inch of water per week. Check soil moisture levels before watering to prevent complications like root rot.

When you water growing cucumber plants, you should avoid overhead dousing. Instead, moisten the soil around the plant’s stem while keeping the leaves dry.

Be aware that you should not over-water cucumber plants when it is sunny. Add water only in the early morning or late evening for best results.


Growing Cucumbers from Seed

Cucumber Seeds on soil.

Cucumber plants are simple for gardeners of any experience level to grow. Still, if you are new to gardening, you should take care when growing cucumbers for the first time.

For the best results, sow cucumber seeds directly in their final location. This can be outdoors in your backyard garden or in large containers.

Learn more about How to Plant Cucumbers by reading this in-depth guide!

You can successfully transplant cucumber seedlings as long as you are careful. Many cucumbers have delicate root systems that are easily damaged during transplanting.

A starter tray of cucumber seedlings.

Are you unsure about whether you can gently transplant cucumbers without damaging roots? If so, consider growing cucumbers in compostable containers.

Park Seed CowPots make it easy to start delicate plants like cucumbers indoors.

These nifty planters have the added benefit of adding slow-release fertilizer to help growing cucumbers thrive.


Transplanting Cucumber Seedlings

A young cucumber plant in the garden.

Are you an experienced gardener confident in your ability to transplant delicate cucumber seedlings? In that case, you can transplant the cucumbers that you started indoors.

You must protect the delicate roots during the transplanting process. Follow these simple steps to safely move growing cucumber seedlings outdoors.

  1. Harden potted cucumber seedlings by placing the containers outside during the daytime for one week before transplanting.
  2. Gently roll the pots between your hands to loosen the soil and allow the root ball to slide free
  3. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the entire root ball.
  4. Place the seedling into the hole and fill it with soil.
  5. Water the growing cucumber plant thoroughly.

Don’t add fertilizer too soon after transplanting! Allow the cucumber plants to settle first, then add fertilizer once the risk of transplant shock passes.


How to Grow Cucumbers in Containers

Container garden cucumbers.

Not all cucumber varieties are the same, and some are more well-suited to container gardening than others. If you want to grow cucumbers and containers, look for compact bush varieties.

If you are set on growing vining cucumbers, you can still plant them in containers. The trick to growing indeterminate cucumber plants in pots is to utilize trellises.


Trellising Cucumber Plants

Young cucumber plants with trellis netting in place.
Netting used for trellising cucumbers.

Indeterminate vining cucumber plants benefit from sturdy trellises. Growing cucumbers vertically allows for improved air circulation and more sunlight exposure.

The best trellis for cucumbers doesn’t need to be expensive. Just ensure it is sturdy enough to bear the full weight of ripe cucumbers.

Grow cucumbers on trellises to allow the fruits to fully develop and mature without rotting. Trellising can also reduce the risk of common cucumber pests and pathogens.


Preventing Cucumber Pests and Pathogens

Cucumber plants are vulnerable to a few common diseases, like powdery mildew. The best way to prevent such pathogens is through proper spacing and crop rotation.

When cucumber plants are spaced at least three feet apart, they are less likely to spread disease. Using a trellis to keep the vines off the ground prevents most soil-borne pathogens from infecting your plants.

Every gardener has a different approach regarding pests that munch on cucumber plants. There are synthetic pesticides that should be used carefully or safer natural pest repellents that may not be as effective.

Cucumber beetle
A cucumber beetle.

Experienced gardeners might use a net, cage, or plastic tunnel to protect cucumber plants from vermin. Just ensure you allow natural pollinators to access cucumber flowers when they bloom!

If pollinators like honeybees can’t reach your cucumber flowers, you will end up with underdeveloped fruits. You can hand-pollinate cucumber flowers with a paintbrush if necessary.

Harvesting Ripe Cucumbers

A basket of harvested pickling cucumbers.

Once your homegrown cucumbers are plump and ripe, it is time to harvest them. Cucumber varieties may mature at different rates, so pay attention to which type you are growing.

Generally, you can expect cucumbers to ripen around two months after planting. The plants will continue growing cucumbers throughout the rest of the season.

Some gardeners like to twist cucumbers off the vine when harvesting. Using a knife or shears to clip cucumber stems is best to prevent unnecessary damage to the vines.


FAQ

Cucumbers on a plant.

What month do you plant cucumbers?

Sow cucumber seeds outdoors after the last threat of frost when the soil is around 70°F. This time may vary depending on your local climate but generally falls between March and May.

Do cucumbers need a trellis?

Most cucumber plants benefit from the extra support offered by a sturdy trellis. The only exceptions are dwarf bush cucumber varieties, which stay relatively compact and upright.

How long do cucumbers take to grow?

Most cucumber varieties mature 50-70 days after planting. Indeterminate cucumbers continue producing fruit all season.


Growing Cucumbers: Everything You Need to Know

Closeup of a small pickle on a vine.

Are you ready to start growing cucumbers in your backyard garden? If so, this guide should have you off on the right foot.

Explore our Cucumbers page to learn more about the many different delicious types of cuke you can grow!