Wondering how to grow cucumbers? You’re in the right place! Cucumbers are widely popular with home gardeners, and it’s not hard to see why: they’re one of the easiest vegetables to grow, and they come in a range of varieties that are adaptable to any space limitations. So let’s get to the low down on how to grow this low-maintenance, high-yielding, low-calorie, nutrient-rich and scrumptious vegetable.
Cucumbers: When to Plant
Cucumbers are a warm-weather crop that, once established, should produce well into the fall. When putting out transplants, wait one to two weeks after your last frost date; seeds can be sown directly into the garden on your last spring frost date. You can find your average last frost date here.
Cucumbers: Where and What Variety to Grow
To successfully grow cucumbers, you should choose a spot that gets at least 8 hours of sunlight daily and is easily accessible for watering. Once you’ve found the ideal location, space and personal preference will dictate which variety you choose to grow.
There are lots of cucumber varieties on the market:
- Dwarf Cucumber Plants such as our Bush Crop Cucumber Plant, are the perfect cucumbers for container gardens or for very small garden areas. This is also a popular choice for schoolyard gardens. Their growth is more upright than vining, so they don’t require as much space.
- Semi-Dwarf Cucumber Plants such as our Fanfare Cucumber Plant, are also adaptable to container growing and will only take up a bit more space in your garden than a dwarf variety. They grow a little taller than vigorous varieties, but with vines about half the length. Using a trellis will save space.
- Vigorous Cucumber Plants, sometimes referred to as vining cucumber plants, will require the most room in the garden. Some vigorous varieties grow on vines reaching up to 6 feet (or sometimes longer) in length. The fruits are most often 8 to 12 inches long and will grow best upon trellises. Our most popular vigorous variety is the Garden Sweet Burpless Cucumber Plant.
Cucumbers: How to Fertilize and Water
Cucumbers grow best with adequate nutrition. Cucumber plants should be fertilized (preferably with an organic fertilizer) when first transplanted, then about a week after blooming, and then every 3 to 4 weeks afterwards. Using a low nitrogen fertilizer will help you avoid growing leggy, leafy, beautiful, but potentially fruitless vines.
Cucumbers also require consistent watering; inconsistent or neglectful watering can result in bitter fruit. Water thoroughly two to three times a week, depending upon the climatic conditions in your area. Container plantings should be monitored closely and never allowed to completely dry out. Bear in mind that watering around the roots, as opposed to on the leaves, will provide the most efficient hydration to your vegetable plants and will help to prevent foliar diseases, mildew and leaf scorch.
Cucumbers: When to Harvest
When choosing a variety, be sure to know the estimated number of days to maturity. Remember, this is always just a guideline. Mother Nature may have her own agenda. Climatic conditions, soil health, moisture and disease can greatly affect your cucumber harvest in terms of time and yield. And, since cucumbers produce throughout the entire season, it is virtually impossible to gauge the number of days any specific cucumber has been on the vine.
So how do you know when they’re ripe? Cucumbers at their peak will more easily separate from the vine when you harvest. If you really have to aggressively tug or cut the vine, you may want to wait a day or two. It’s a good idea to wear gloves when picking cukes. Their skins and stems are covered with prickly spines that can usually be removed by simply wiping with a glove or cloth. Make sure the skins are smooth before serving!
One of the most important tips on how to grow cucumbers is: don’t delay your harvest! Waiting to pick your cucumbers until they start to turn yellow can result in bitter fruit. Though your cucumber variety may generally produce 8- to 10-inch fruits, there are always exceptions, so don’t go by size, but rather by appearance.
Pick cukes just as soon as they ripen to encourage the plants to keep producing fruit. Store them in the fridge for one to two weeks, or prepare vinegar-based cucumber salads that will keep for up to a week when refrigerated. Canned pickles keep for weeks or months. The skin contains valuable dietary fiber and nutrients, plus it adds a lot of crunch, so leave the skin intact when eating raw or using in recipes for the most dietary benefits.
How to Grow Cucumbers With Companion Plants
All plants do not grow well together. And this is true for cucumbers too. Plant them well away from tomatoes, sage and other aromatic herbs, such as lavender, mint or lemon grass.
On the other hand, vegetables such as radishes, beets and dill are good choices for planting in close proximity to your cucumber plants. Not only do they benefit your cucumbers when it comes to utilizing and providing needed nutrients, many of them will also help deter the most common cucumber pests, such as aphids, ccucumber beetles, spider mites and pickle worms. Dill, for instance, will attract lacewings, which in turn will decimate an aphid population in short order. Lacewings will also eat the eggs of the cucumber beetle.
Many flowers, such as nasturtiums and marigolds, are an effective form of pest control, naturally reducing the need to utilize chemical pesticides in your vegetable garden while adding an attractive border or colorful accent. Experts recommend planting the most pungent marigold varieties, such as French or Mexican marigolds.
The healthiest and most pest-free gardens will grow in a naturally beneficial environment. To learn more, you can read our article on Natural Pest Control.
LPGJuly 23, 2017 at 11:51 am
cucumbers are voracious feeders and love Magnesium so I mix 2T Epsom salts (Magnesium Sulphate) in 1 gallon water and pour into the soil. My plants are loaded with cucumbers!
jstutzmanMay 2, 2018 at 1:24 pm
Great tip LPG – thanks!
Beverley HendricksonJune 12, 2018 at 2:27 pm
Why my cucumber leafs Turn yellow and then dry up what do I do to stop it
jstutzmanJune 28, 2018 at 7:54 am
It sounds like your cucumber plant is not getting enough nutrients or water. What have you been feeding it and how often? Also, how often have you been watering the plant?
Hossein KAugust 17, 2018 at 4:39 pm
I planted cucumbers in Feb in raised garden beds this year. I water them regularly almost daily. however, I did not add any fertilizer to the soil . I had plenty of cucumbers but they turned white on the outside and tasted bitter . what did I do wrong?
jstutzmanAugust 21, 2018 at 3:48 pm
Hossein, we are sorry to hear of your cucumber issues. Cucumbers turn white from two reasons, not enough sun on the fruit and from too much moisture. We would speculate that it was probably too much moisture. One of the reasons cucumbers turn bitter is a lack of nutrients which comes from your lack of adding fertilizer. We would recommend only watering as the soil starts drying, and start adding fertilizer. You could start with a common 10-10-10. Add a double dose for your initial feeding, then do it again every other week for the remainder of the season. Good luck from all of us here at GrowJoy.
Brad HellyerAugust 27, 2018 at 2:40 pm
Don’t know where I read it, we planted Sunflowers with the cakes and the Sunflower vines support the Cucumbers. Came out great.
Viet NguyenAugust 24, 2019 at 11:48 am
I plant Cucumber every year and every year after the first harvest, it is starting to die off. It is like being cut off from the bottom. What did I do wrong?
jstutzmanAugust 30, 2019 at 3:19 pm
Unfortunately we would need more info before we could answer this as there could be multiple reason why. First, make sure you are fertilizing every 2-3 weeks. Second, they need a lot of water so make sure that is happening on a daily basis. Good luck, GrowJoy
KathyApril 8, 2021 at 6:46 pm
depends what zone you live in but I’m in zone 7b and sometime near the end of July or beginning of August, it’s just too hot for the vines and they start to shrivel at the base of the plant. Lack of water isn’t an issue because the leaves are not wilted and while the plant continues to produce for a little bit, I usually pull them up and plant a crop of snow peas for the fall.
Ghazala ShaheenJuly 1, 2021 at 11:13 pm
My cucumber plant is health but all leaves have big holes now like I think Bec of insects .what should I do to keep my plant healthy and avoids all kinds of insects and flies
jstutzmanAugust 4, 2021 at 11:35 am
Yes, this is insect damage most likely done by the cucumber beetle. There are two ways to deal with this issue, chemicals or a frost blanket. Sevin Dust is a chemical powder you can sprinkle on the plants that will kill and repel these insects, or you can use a frost blanket (not just a normal blanket) that you can lay overtop the plants during there active cycle of May and June.
Happy gardening, Joe