Cucumber Growing Guide
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Cucumber Growing Guide

Growing Cucumbers at Home

How Do Cucumbers Grow?

Any gardener will know that when they are planning a garden, growing cucumbers should absolutely be part of the mix. They are great for beginner and veteran gardeners and are pretty easy to grow in general. From their prolific growth habit to the multitude of ways you can enjoy and preserve them, growing cucumbers should for sure have a place in your garden planning. Cucumbers belong to the Cucurbitaceae family (also known as gourds or cucurbits) along with winter squash and summer squash and have very similar growth habits and planting needs. Similarly to squash, there are hundreds of varieties of cucumbers to choose from.

How To Categorize Cucumbers

Most cucumbers are similar to indeterminate tomatoes and grow in a vining habit and perform best when given a trellised structure to climb. Use a strong trellis that is well-supported with deeply driven stakes to support the fruits. Trellising will also keep the fruits cleaner and save time with harvesting and processing. Our Hortonova Trellis Netting works great for trellising cucumbers and is easy to install. While you may think that all cucumbers are basically the same, there are a lot of variations to choose from. Cucumbers come in lots of shapes, sizes, and flavors. Below are the common classifications of cucumbers for the home garden.

Slicing

Slicing cucumbers are usually longer, have thicker skin with less spines, and are typically eaten fresh or in salads. While they do have a slightly longer shelf life, they should be consumed quickly after harvesting.

"Burpless" Cucumbers

Most cucumbers contain the chemical compound cucurbitacin in the skin and stem and have been known to cause can cause gastric issues and burping. Burpless cucumbers, such as the Burpless Supreme Cucumber, have been bred specifically not to have this chemical. Burpless cucumbers also have fewer seeds and thinner skin.

Pickling

Pickling cucumbers are usually smaller and have thinner, dryer skins that will easily soak up the liquid that they are brined in. Pickling varieties usually have more spines (bumps) on them that can easily be removed.

Speciality Cucumbers

Specialty cucumbers are varieties that differ in the classic look or flavor of a cucumber. The Mexican Sour Gherkin, for example, resemble tiny watermelons and have a tangy lemon flavor. The Lemon Cucumber is an heirloom variety that produces round, yellow fruits that resemble more of a lemon than a cucumber.

The Science Behind Cucumber Pollination

Like all other plants, pollination will always come into play if you want to be successful growing cucumbers. When choosing your variety, be sure and do research to see what type of cucumber you’re growing and how they are pollinated. Similarly to seedless watermelons, certain varieties, called gynoecious cucumbers, will include a different male pollinator variety in the HOSS seed packet to ensure proper pollination. All the seeds in a pack of gynoecious type cucumber need to be planted to ensure enough male pollinators are present.

Gynoecious Cucumbers

Gynoecious cucumbers are varieties that produce only female flowers. These plants need a pollinator present to produce fruits. Because they have only female flowers, gynoecious cucumbers are usually large producers.

Monoecious Cucumber

Monoecious cucumber plants have both male and female flowers present on the same plant. Female flowers are the ones that will produce fruits. Both hybrid and open-pollinated cucumber plants can be monoecious.

Parthenocarpic Cucumbers

Parthenocarpic cucumbers don't require pollinators making them ideal for growing in greenhouses or urban areas where pollinator presence may be reduced. Because they are parthenocarpic, the fruits have very few, if any, seeds.

What Season Should You Plant Cucumbers?

Cucumbers grow best when direct-seeded outdoors and don’t transplant well because they don’t like having their roots disturbed. While some vegetables have specific dates and windows in which to plant (like potatoes), cucumbers have slightly more flexibility to get started in the ground, depending on your zone. Generally speaking, though, growing cucumbers should be started in early Spring but can be started as late as mid-summer. Cucumbers are not frost-tolerant at all so plant any time after the last Spring frost date, when the soil has warmed to at least 70°F.

Soil Requirements to Grow Cucumbers

  • Loose, well-draining soil
  • pH between 6.0 and 6.5
  • Rich in organic materials
  • Good quality compost added to the soil

HOSS always recommends getting a soil sample to your local extension office several weeks before planting. Once you get your results, you will need plenty of time to adjust your soil accordingly and make sure your plants are getting the best nutrients possible as soon as they hit the ground.

Click here to find your local extension office.

Did you know?

Cucumbers are a crop that will require multiple harvests throughout the growing season. Regardless of variety, cucumbers will have better flavor and texture if they are harvested before they get too big. We recommend harvesting every 2-3 days so the fruits don't become too large and bitter.

Cucumber Plant Spacing

Embrace Full Sun

When choosing a spot to grow cucumbers, full sun is always recommended. Remember when growing cucumbers that they love heat and moisture. Be careful not to over-plant cucumber plants because they can easily take over and become too difficult to manage and harvest.

In-Ground Planting

Row Spacing – 3 feet
Plant Spacing – 8 to 12 inches
Planting Depth – 1 inch

Raised Bed Planting

Row Spacing – 2 feet
Plant Spacing – 8 to 12 inches
Planting Depth – 1 inch

Cucumber Irrigation Requirements

Cucumber plants need at least 1″ of water every 5 days. Using drip irrigation is always recommended to be sure that your cucumber plants are getting moisture directly to their root system. If you’re using conventional overhead watering techniques, try and use something like the Dramm Watering Can and water and fertilize at the base of the plant to keep moisture off the leaves.

In-Ground Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

1 Week Before Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 6.5, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

2 Weeks After Planting

Using the Hoss Fertilizer Injector, Mix 1 cup of Hoss Premium 20-20-20 Fertilizer -AND -1-2 cups of Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement per 20 ft. of row.

Alternate Every 14-21 Days

Using the Hoss Fertilizer Injector, Mix 1 cup of Hoss Premium Calcium Nitrate -AND- 1-2 cups of Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement 

Raised Bed & Container Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

1 Week Before Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 6.5, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

2 Weeks After Planting

Sidedress 2 cups of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer per 10 ft. of row.

Every 14 Days (After 1 Week Planting)

Mix 1 tablet each of Dr. Joe Nutri Bubble -AND- Dr. Joe Tomato & Vegetable Bubble into 1 gallon of water. Apply as a drench per 4 plants.

Cucumber Pest & Disease Protection

Insects

Organic Controls

Spinosad Garden Insect Spray
Thrips, Pickleworms, Leaf Miners, Armyworms, Mealy Bugs

Horticultural Oil
Aphids, Squash Bugs (Nymphs), Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Spider Mites, Beetle Larvae, Leaf Miners

Bug Buster-O
Aphids, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Cucumber Beetles, Thrips, Mites, Armyworms

Monterey BT
Armyworms, Pickleworms

Take Down Garden Spray
Aphids, Army Worms, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Mites, Squash Bugs (Nymphs), Vine Borer (Nymphs)

Diatomaceous Earth
Cutworms

Non-Organic Controls

Bug Buster II
Aphids, Squash Bugs, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Spider Mites, Thrips, Leaf Miner, Vine Borer, Cucumber Beetle, Armyworms

Treat as needed using label instructions.

Common Diseases

Non-Organic Controls

Liquid Copper Fungicide
Downy Mildew, Powdery Mildew, Anthracnose, Alternaria Leaf Spot

Garden Phos
Downy Mildew, Powdery Mildew, Anthracnose, Alternaria Leaf Blight

Fungi Max
Powdery Mildew

Vegetable, Flower, Fruit and Ornamental Fungicide
Downy Mildew, Powdery Mildew, Anthracnose, Alternaria Leaf Blight, Cercospora Leaf Spot

Treat as needed using label instructions.

Harvesting, Preserving, and Storing Cucumbers

When & How To Harvest Cucumbers

Cucumbers can be harvested at just about any stage of growth. However, you don’t want to let your cucumber fruits get too large, as they will become bitter and the seeds will harden. Harvest often to signal the plant to keep producing more cucumbers through the season. Use pruning shears or a sharp knife to cut the stems and avoid damaging the vines. A good reference guide to harvesting based on the variety and the peak flavor is below:

Slicing Cucumbers – 6 to 8 inches
Pickling Cucumbers – 4 to 6 inches
Large Burpless Cucumbers – 10 inches or more depending on the variety

Storing & Preserving Cucumbers Properly

Growing cucumbers takes a certain level of planning because they are such heavy producers. Because cucumbers are made of 90% water, if you don’t plan on preserving your cucumber crop, wrap the fruits tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for 7-10 days.

If you do decide to make pickles and enjoy your cucumbers all year, a great place to start is to visit the Food Preservation section of our website for everything you need to get started.

Come See Our Cucumbers!

Cucumber Growing Tips & Tricks

Don't Forget The Herbs!

Our Bouquet Dill is a fast-growing and is perfect for making dill pickles. Many people say that it “grows like a weed”, which is appropriate since the proper term is dill weed. This variety goes to seed relatively quickly, making it easy to harvest the seeds for pickling.

Cucumber Pollination Problems? Try This!

If you see that your cucumbers plants aren’t producing as you’d hoped, try hand pollinating. Because only female flowers produce fruit on a cucumber plant, if your pollinators need some help, simply find the male flower and transfer the pollen to the center of the female flower. The male flowers are the ones that have a small protrusion sticking out of the middle of the bloom. They are also the first to bloom on the plant and there are a lot more of them typically than the female flowers.

What to Do With
All Them Cucumbers

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