How to Grow Cucumbers? Cucumbers are easy to grow in most climates. They require soil with good drainage, warm temperatures, at least 6 hours of sun each day, and a lot of water.
By growing this vegetable in your home garden, you can enjoy the taste of different varieties of cucumbers. If you are looking for a step-by-step guide on how to grow cucumbers, this is the article you need.
In this How to Grow Cucumbers article, you’ll learn step by step how to grow, care and harvest cucumbers.
If you’re only interested in one specific step, jump right in:
Purchase good-quality cucumber seeds from reputable online garden stores or your local garden shop.
The two most common types of cucumber plants are bush and vining varieties. So, select the seeds that suit your garden.
Bush cucumber varieties – the bush varieties are ideal for small and big gardens. As the name indicates, these varieties will grow as a bush. Bush cucumbers can be grown in containers as well as on the ground. The advantage of bush cucumber varieties is that they produce fruit earlier and take up less space.
The most common bush cucumber varieties are Burpless Bush Hybrid, Parks Bush Whopper, Bush Champion, Pickle Bush, Salad Bush, Potluck, and Spacemaster.
Vining cucumber varieties – Cucumber vines need a lot of room to grow, making them difficult to grow in small gardens. However, this variety produces more fruit than bush-type cucumbers. Also, cucumber vines have a longer season of production. They will grow right up until the first frost hits. Cucumber vines can also be grown as climbers on a trellis or fence.
The most common vine cucumber varieties are American Slicer, County Fair 83, Armenian, Dasher 11, Saladin, Liberty F1 Hybrid, Slicemaster Select, Sweet Slice, Sweet Success, and English Long Telegraph.
Step 2. Prepare the Soil
Cucumber plants grow well in fertile, moist, and well-drained soil. The soil must not be soggy and compacted. Prepare the soil by removing all the weeds, large sticks, and rocks to make it clean before planting. Add compost to a depth of 2 inches (5 cm) in the ground.
The ideal pH of the soil should be around 5.0 to 6.0 pH.
You can improve your soil if it’s not suitable. If your garden’s soil is dense and heavy, add a mix of peat and compost. If it is dry and sandy, add organic matter to it.
Step 3. Plant Seeds
Cucumber seeds require a warm soil temperature to germinate. The plants are highly prone to wind, cold, and frost damage. If the risk of frost is present, don’t plant cucumbers outside.
The seeds will germinate once the soil temperature is above 70ºF (21ºC). However, you can give your cucumbers a head start by planting them indoors.
Plant Seeds Indoors
If your garden is in a region with harsh winter conditions or a short growing season, starting seeds indoors is ideal. Doing this will help the plants develop before planting them outdoors once the weather gets warmer.
- Use multipurpose compost for the seedling tray and make sure it’s moist before planting seeds.
- Plant the seeds into the seedling tray, then cover them with a layer of the same compost. Water it thoroughly.
- Place seedling trays in a dark and warm location like the top of your refrigerator, cupboard, or near a heater.
- Moist the soil if you notice it is dry.
- The seedlings will grow within 5 to 10 days.
- Once the cucumber plants have broken through the soil, place them beside the sunniest window.
- Once the seedlings develop 3 to 4 true leaves, you can transplant them to big containers or directly into the garden soil.
- Cucumber plants do not like to be transplanted as it stunts growth. So, avoid multiple transplantations.
Plant Seeds Outdoors
The cucumber is a summer vegetable and a quick-growing plant, so if the outside temperature is above 70ºF (21ºC), the best option is to plant seeds directly in the soil. It should be planted in a location where it can receive at least 5 hours of sun.
- The depth of the seeds should be written on the seed pack, but if the seed pack is not available, sow the seeds 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep and 2 inches (5 cm) apart.
- The seedlings will grow within 5 to 10 days.
- Once the cucumber plants have broken through the soil, thin them out. Spacing after thinning should be 18 inches (45 cm).
Pro Tip: Pests like slugs will eat your seedlings. Protect your seedlings by covering them with horticultural fleece, fine netting, or a plastic bottle cut in half.
Step 4. Care for Cucumber Plants
Cucumber plants need proper care to produce lots of fruit. The guides below will ensure that your cucumber plants grow healthy and have an abundant harvest.
Being a warm-session vegetable, the cucumber plant needs consistent moisture to thrive. You can perform a finger test by putting a finger into the top inch of the soil. If it feels dry, it’s time for watering. If it’s wet, don’t water it as overwatering promotes fungal diseases.
The mornings are the best time to water cucumber plants. This will allow the water to be fully absorbed by the plant before the sun gets too high and evaporates the moisture.
It’s also best to water your cucumbers from the ground rather than overhead, as this will save the leaves from getting wet. Wet leaves can cause mildew and rot.
Pro Tip: As mentioned above, wet leaves can cause problems in your cucumber plants. However, once in a while, spray the leaves using a water hose to wash off any dust, debris, pests, or their eggs. Spraying will help to keep your cucumber plants healthy and productive.
Cucumber plants need well-balanced nutrients for them to produce a lot of fruit. The cucumber plant will start flowering within 20 to 30 days. Once they do, add liquid fertilizer every 14 days.
The most popular cucumber varieties are the ones that will grow like vines. You can let the cucumber vines spread horizontally. However, growing cucumbers vertically makes it so much easier to pick the fruits and prevents them from becoming dirty & rotting on the ground under their vines.
Growing cucumbers vertically can save you a lot of space in your garden. Plus, this gardening technique also looks better visually. The only downside of growing cucumbers vertically is that you’ll need to support the vines with structures like trellises, stakes, cages, or other types of support.
After about 30 days, most of the flowers will transform into small fruits. Both male and female flowers will develop on cucumber plants. The male flowers have a small stalk, while female flowers have small attached fruits. The male flowers will drop off, while the female flowers will form fruits.
If your cucumber plants fail to produce fruits, or one side of the fruit is thicker than the other, it means there is a pollination issue. Attract more pollinators to your garden to solve it.
You may also hand-pollinate the blossoms using a tiny brush. Scrape off the pollen from the male flowers and transfer it to the female flowers. And don’t worry if you cannot tell the difference between male and female flowers! Just keep brushing all the flowers with the same brush.
Do you need to prune cucumber plant leaves? In short, Yes, to some extent, cucumber vining varieties leaves should be pruned. Prune cucumber plant leaves if they are wilting, yellowing, or curling.
Cucumber plants vines grow fast and need to be supported with stakes or trellis if growing vertically. By pruning off excess (out of control) vines, it helps the plant climb. Also, this way, you can redirect growth toward supporting structures without damaging the plant.
If you are growing horizontally and not worried about saving space, pruning is unnecessary. You can let it grow wild!
Step 5. Harvest Cucumbers
The fruit is ready for harvesting in about 50 days. Harvest them regularly before they are fully mature. Cucumbers will develop yellow or white areas on the skin if left on the vine for too long. Also, cucumber plants will stop flowering and producing fruit if they are let to go to seed.
To harvest, simply grasp the fruit and give it a good twist, snapping off with your hand. If you need to gather many cucumbers at a time, use a pair of garden snips. This will help you avoid accidental plant damage.
Cucumbers can be harvested when they are young or allowed to mature and then pickled.
Step 6. Store Cucumbers
At some point during the growing season, there will be more cucumbers than you can eat. Luckily, these fruits are very easy to preserve and store.
You can freeze cucumbers, but the best way is to pickle them so that you can enjoy them all year round.
Pro Tip: you can pickle overgrown cucumbers or even bitter ones. The pickling will soften the hard cucumber skin and will get rid of the bitterness.
Cucumber plants have many pests which can be detrimental to their health and appearance. Several cucumber pests are listed below, along with the control measures that may minimize the damage effectively.
These pests are one of the worst enemies for gardeners as they are difficult to control. The adult cucumber beetles feed on the rind of fruits, blossoms, vines, leaves, and cotyledons. They also carry harmful plant diseases like bacterial wilt, which can destroy a cucumber plant within a very short time. The adults of these beetles are yellow and about 0.8 to 1.3 inches (2.0 to 3.3 cm) long. They have black stripes or dots on their elytra.
You may also use neem oil or insecticidal soap to get rid of them naturally.
These pests are tiny insects shaped like a pear with sucking mouth parts that can infest cucumber plants. They are soft-bodied insects and can be green, yellow, or black. These insects pierce the plant with their mouthparts and suck out the phloem sap. This results in poor growth of leaves, wilting or curling leaves, stunted cucumbers, and eventually resulting in the death of plants if left unchecked.
Read more about aphids in our article “Aphids – Identification and Control.”
Both nymphs and adults of squash bugs feed by piercing and sucking the plant juices (sap) from vines and leaves. Their feeding will cause leaves to become black and crisp. The plant will wilt and eventually die. The cucumber yields will be significantly reduced.
The adult bug is about 5/8 inch (16 mm) long, has a flat body, and is brown to gray with dark spots on the back. The nymphs resemble adults but do not have wings.
You may also use neem oil to get rid of them organically. As a last resort, use pyrethrin.
Cucumber Diseases and Their Control
Many types of diseases can affect cucumber plants. Some can be fatal, but some can be prevented or even controlled. Some of these diseases and how you can prevent them from taking over your cucumbers are described below.
It is a fungal disease that causes white, fuzzy, powdery spots on stems and leaves. These fungal spores flourish in a wet, warm, shady environment.
Powdery mildew is controlled easier than other diseases. However, you can not cure or remove the existing powdery mildew using fungicides. You have to cut off the affected parts from the plant and spray fungicide on the unaffected parts of the plant to prevent the disease from spreading. 
You can also try spraying one of the less effective organic solutions like garlic extract mixed with water, baking soda mixed with water, vinegar mixed with water, potassium bicarbonate mixed with water, milk mixed with water, or neem oil. It can effectively kill the spores of powdery mildew.
Bacterial wilt is one of the most harmful diseases affecting cucumber plants, especially in dry conditions. Bacterial wilt is spread mainly through cucumber beetles. It can survive winters by living in beetles’ guts. Bacterial wilt first appears as yellow and then brown discoloration along the veins of the cucumber leaves. As the disease advances, it causes wilting of the leaves, leading to plant death.
Since there are no effective treatments for bacterial wilt, it’s best to remove the infected plants from your garden to avoid further spread. Do not compost the affected plants!
Bacterial wilt can be prevented by managing cucumber beetles. 
Cucumber Mosaic Virus
Another harmful cucumber disease is the cucumber mosaic virus which causes a mosaic pattern of small light-green, dark-green, yellow, or white spots on leaves. Cucumbers affected by this virus will not grow to their standard size and produce less fruit. Aphids can spread the cucumber mosaic virus. Also, this virus can be spread through unsanitary garden tools or garden clothing.
There are no effective treatments for the cucumber mosaic virus, so prevention is essential. Ensure to remove infected plants and clean your garden equipment regularly. Never place infected plants in your compost bin. 
Cucumber Enemy and Companion Plants
Plants have both companion plants and enemy plants. When plants are close to one another, they can assist each other in a variety of ways. Companion plants can provide various benefits, including pest control, habitat for beneficial insects, increased crop production, pollination, and much more.
Some plants do not get along. They compete for the same resources, which results in reduced development and productivity.
The list of plants that can be planted as companions and the list of plants to avoid near cucumbers is shown below.
Cucumber Companion Plants:
Cucumber Enemy Plants:
- Strong Herbs
What to Do Next
Cucumbers need little time and effort to grow, making them one of the most pleasurable crops to cultivate. So why not give it a shot?
If you liked our How To Grow Cucumbers guide, then check out our other Growing Guides. Read and learn more easy step-by-step tutorials.
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