Cucumber Plant: How To Grow Cucumbers, Planting, Care Tips, Harvest

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Gardening | April 1, 2024

Woman slicing cucumbers after reading a cucumber plant growing guide that explained how to plant cucumbers, build vertical gardens for cucumber plants, and care tips for types of cucumbers.

Growing your own Cucumber plant (or plants) isn’t difficult, and it’s a great way to help offset the costs of your weekly grocery budget.

As an added bonus to growing Cucumbers plants, did you know that gardening is a natural and proven way to reduce stress?1

In fact, with cucumbers, you can grow them just about anywhere, even in small spaces because they work well in a vertical garden.

This guide explains everything you need to know, from how to pick and plant the best Cucumber seeds, how to care for seedlings, and how to build and create the perfect environment for your Cucumber plants to grow in, to exactly how and when to harvest your fresh Cucumbers.


(Cucumis sativus)

Cucumber Plant in an oval frame on a green background.
  • Family: Cucurbitaceae
  • Genus: Cucumis
  • Leaf: Large, hairy, triangular leaves with 3-5 lobes, deep wrinkles, and serrated margins borne on long petioles.
  • Seed: Oval-shaped, flat and small that is usually beige or light brown
  • Blossoms: Gold/Yellow
  • Native Habitat: Himalayas to Northern Thailand
  • Height: 8 inches to 1 ft. 6 inches
  • Canopy: Dense vines with broad green leaves, tendrils for support, and yellow flowers
  • Type: Annual
  • Native Growing Zone: The Cucumber plant grows in USDA plant hardiness zones 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11

Image Credit: Alexei (Alexei_other)18

The Basics of Growing Cucumbers

Whether you want to make homemade pickles, dress your salads with fresh-picked Cucumbers or use them in recipes like making fresh tzatziki,2 you can easily grow enough Cucumbers to keep your fridge full.

Cucumbers do best in warm weather of at least 70 degrees F. They will need about a foot of space between plants for most varieties.

If growing in containers, you can grow one plant per 12 inch pot.

Life Cycle and Stages of Cucumber Plants

Each of these stages will be discussed further in the article with how-tos and tips for helping your Cucumber plants thrive through each one.

Graphic of the stages of Cucumber plants showing cucumber growth progression starting from seeds and advancing through seedlings, small plant vine, flower development, fruit development, and culminating in the harvesting stage.

But in general, here are the stages you and your Cucumber plants will go through, from planting to harvesting:

  • Seeds: Select the variety of Cucumber you want to grow and purchase viable, healthy seeds.
  • Sprouted seeds/Seedlings: After planting, the seeds germinate and start growing into tiny little seedling plants. These plants are pretty fragile but they grow quite fast and with some basic care will turn into strong Cucumber plants.
  • Small plants starting to expand and vine out: The seedlings will grow into small plants with larger leaves developing and vines starting to grow and stretch out.
  • Flowers developing: When your Cucumber plant is large, mature and strong enough, it will start to form small yellow flowers. The location of female flowers is where Cucumber fruits will develop and grow.
  • Small Cucumber fruits developing on the vines: You’ll start to notice the most adorable, tiny little Cucumbers growing underneath flowers on the vines. They’ll look like skinny, fuzzy little green poles and will grow and develop into harvestable Cucumbers over time.
  • Harvest time: The best part of the process. All your work and dedication has paid off, and your Cucumber plant presents you with a bounty of fresh, crisp, delicious Cucumbers ready to snap off the vine and eat.

Choosing a Growing Space

The first thing you need to do is choose where your Cucumber plants will call home. Where will they be set up to grow and produce?

Are you giving them a designated section of your large backyard garden, or will your condo’s outdoor balcony be your Cucumber plant’s new home.

When choosing your space, keep these two main things in mind:

  1. The size needed for your plants
  2. The amount of sunlight received in the space

If you only have a small patio to grow on, consider growing vertically to maximize the space, or just stick to bush plants and skip the vining plants.

If you’re growing somewhere with a lot of space, make note of how much space the vines will take up, and thus how much space a trellis or staking system will take up as well. If you plan to plant other plants near your Cucumbers, this will matter so the Cucumber vines don’t overtake your other plants.

Cucumber plants need a lot of full sun. At least 6 hours a day of bright direct sunlight is needed,3 with 8 or more recommended for them to grow and produce most successfully.

This shouldn’t be such an issue with outdoor gardening, but keep this in mind if you plan to plant them close to a building on the western-facing side or somewhere where sunlight may be limited.

If your patio is shaded most of the day, you will need to add a full spectrum grow light to the space to help supplement the lack of direct sun the plants will get.4 You’ll need to keep the light on for about 12 to 16 hours a day if it’s from an artificial light source like a grow light.

Choosing What Variety of Cucumbers To Grow

With there being at least 100 different types of Cucumbers,5 you may not know which ones to grow.

First, you need to know that there are 2 main types of Cucumber plants:

  1. Bush: Grow as a bush and are smaller in size. Perfect for patios.
  2. Vining: Grow as long vines. Need more space.

And there are 2 main types of Cucumber fruits (yes, Cucumbers are technically a fruit)6 that the plants produce:

  1. Pickling: Shorter, stouter Cucumbers with thicker, spined flesh and dryer flesh. Best for pickling.
  2. Slicing: Longer, thinner Cucumbers with thin skin and juicy flesh. Best for slicing and eating fresh.

The three most important factors to consider when choosing what variety of Cucumber you’ll grow are:

  1. Your growing zone/climate
  2. How much space you have to grow in (patio, or many acres)
  3. Whether you want a pickling or slicing type of Cucumber

For example, if you’ll be growing your plants on an apartment balcony window in a hot and humid region, you will want to choose a different variety than someone who is growing on a mid-sized homestead with a mild climate and short growing season.

And if you don’t plan on making pickles, you may prefer slicing Cucumbers which have thinner skin, are longer in size and have a better taste when eaten raw. While both types can be eaten raw and used for pickles, the skin on pickling Cucumbers tends to be thicker, and the flavor is slightly less bland.

Here are some of the most popular varieties of Cucumbers that are best suited to specific conditions and purposes.7

Best Small Space/Container Garden Cucumber Varieties To Grow: Bush Varieties

If you plan to grow in a smaller space like a deck, balcony or smaller outdoor garden plot, you will most likely want to stick with a bush type of Cucumber plant.8

A bush type of plant won’t create long vines that need to climb and thus need more space. Instead, they grow in a compact, bush-like shape that makes them easier to contain and take up less space.

However, if your small space has room to go vertical, vining options may also work for you.

Vertical growing is an amazing way to maximize growing space everywhere, from a small patio to a larger outdoor growing area.9 So don’t rule out the vining Cucumbers just yet.

  • Spacemaster

This slicing type of Cucumber was developed to be perfectly suited to smaller spaces such as containers and hanging baskets. In fact, it does so well in compact growing situations that you can plant one plant in a 12-inch pot.

Dark green slicing cucumbers from a cucumber plant, displayed side by side on a white background.

(Image: kie-ker17)

Note that it is a vining Cucumber, but its vines don’t get longer than 2 to 3 feet long, which is why it’s included in the small space/container section. If you don’t want to create a small trellis, you can opt to use hanging baskets and let the vines trail down.

The Cucumber fruits will be about 7.5 inches when ready to harvest.

It’s better suited to colder growing regions than other varieties of Cucumbers, but it does well in USDA zones 3 through 8.

  • Patio Snacker

This pickling variety is perfect for growing on a patio or other small space. The size of its bush gets on average about 2 to 4 feet tall and its fruit are 6 to 8 inches long.

With only 39 days from sowing to maturity, this is a fast producer. Additionally, the more you harvest it, the more fruit it will produce, increasing yields even more.

This variety grows best in USDA hardiness zones 2 to 10.

Best Large Space/Open Garden Cucumber Varieties To Grow: Vining Varieties

If you have an abundance of space to grow, you can plant vine types. In some varieties, vines can easily get upwards of 8 feet long.

Vining varieties produce on average much more fruit than bush varieties, which makes sense since there’s more plant being produced, and thus more flowers and fruit.

  • Long Green Improved

This heirloom variety is perfect for either slicing or pickling and has been a favorite dating back to 1942. It produces tons of dark green, straight fruit that measures about a foot long.

Its vines are very strong and long, and require some type of staking or trellis to be supported.

Fresh, dark green cucumbers piled in a woven basket at a market, with hints of other produce in the background.

(Image: GBonzoms17)

Because this is an heirloom variety, you can easily save the seeds from one year to the next and have a perpetual supply of viable seeds basically for free.

  • Early Frame

This fast-growing vining Cucumber is ideal for either pickling or slicing. It will need to be grown with support such as a frame or trellis.

Make sure to harvest the Cucumbers when they’re about 7 to 8 inches long for the best taste and to keep the vines producing as much fruit as possible.

Best Hot and Humid Climate Garden Cucumber Varieties To Grow

One of the most common issues growers run into with Cucumbers is downy or powdery mildew. This fungal infection thrives in hot and humid conditions.

Because of this, if you’re growing in such an environment, you’ll want to grow a variety that has resistance to mildew.

  • Ashley

Ashley Cucumbers are a vining variety of slicing pickles that is resistant to downy mildew. It was created back in 1956 in South Carolina, where the climate is hot and humid, and where the Ashley Cucumber thrives.

Assortment of fresh produce including glossy green cucumbers, one with a yellow blossom attached, surrounded by zucchinis, potatoes, and green chives on a table.

(Image: Irenna_____17)

Ashley fruits average about 8 inches long, with vines getting long enough to benefit from a trellis.

If you have the space and want something resistant to common issues that may arise with the heat and humidity, this prolific producer is a fantastic choice.

  • Bush Champion

This bush variety loves the heat and the sun, and is resistant to common diseases including powdery mildew.

It only takes up about a third of the space of average sized Cucumber plants, which makes it perfect for hot, humid but sunny patios or porches. It’s a high yielding plant, which means that even at a smaller size it will produce an abundance of crispy green Cucumbers ready to be pickled or sliced.

  • Marketmore 76

This is an heirloom vining variety that’s great for either pickling or slicing. It has a thick skin, yet also a great crunch and sweet and crisp flavor.

It’s resistant to Cucumber mosaic virus, powdery and downy mildew and a few other common Cucumber issues. While it’s suited to humid environments because of this, Marketmore 76 will also grow fine in cooler climates, making it a very versatile choice to grow.

Best Mild/Colder Climate Garden Cucumber Varieties To Grow

If you live somewhere with a mild climate, or in a cooler region, choosing disease-resistant Cucumber plants won’t be quite so important. Your options will open up and you will have more Cucumber varieties to select from when growing.

  • Pick a Bushel

This bush variety is truly versatile and a top choice, especially for new growers. It’s equally suited for pickling or slicing.

It thrives in both cold and hot temperatures, being popular in USDA hardiness zones from 3 to 10. With a shorter than average harvesting time of just 50 days, and fruits ready to be picked at just 6 inches long, it’s a true favorite.

  • Spacemaster

This is the same Cucumber variety mentioned earlier as one of the best options for small space and container gardening. As noted earlier, it withstands cold much better than other varieties.

  • Jersey Pickling

If you live in New Jersey or anywhere with a similar growing season and plan to make a lot of pickles, this bush variety will be a favorite for you.

Glass jars filled with pickled Cucumbers, herbs, and garlic, sealed with metal lids, placed next to fresh green Cucumbers and dill on a table surface.

(Image: PhotoMIX-Company17)

It produces a ton of Cucumbers that are perfect for pickling, and it doesn’t take up as much space as other varieties that are equally prolific producers take up.

What Equipment Do You Need?

After you choose what variety of Cucumbers you want to grow, it’s time to get all the equipment that you’ll need.

While the list may vary a bit depending on whether you’re growing in containers on a patio or out in a raised garden bed, here’s generally what you’ll need:

  • Seeds
  • Seed starting soil and containers
  • Labels if growing more than one variety
  • Permanent growing containers, soil
  • Way to water the plants (watering can, hose)
  • Supporting trellis (later when the plant vines get long)
  • Optional but helpful: Grow light and heat mat

Choosing Seeds

Always buy seeds from a trusted retailer to ensure they’re high quality and actually the seeds the pack says they are.

If buying in a store, check the seed pack for a date to make sure they were packed for the year you’re planting in. Online retailers that specialize in seeds will have higher turnover and likely only sell what they pack for that year, so pick a place that has the seeds you want and a good online reputation.

Pile of dried cucumber seeds spread out on a vibrant green banana leaf.

(Image: Thamizhpparithi Maari15)

While seeds won’t fully lose viability after a year or two, the rate of success of them does drop.

Seed testing tip: If you have old seed packs, you can test to see if seeds are still viable (will grow when planted) by putting the seeds in a glass of water for about 15 minutes.10 Viable seeds will sink to the bottom of the glass, while dead seeds will float.

How To Do Successive Planting All Season Long

Successive planting really helps extend your growing season as when one plant stops producing, you’ll have another reaching maturity at the same time. This means fresh Cucumbers pretty much non-stop all season.

For successive plantings, plant something every 2 weeks all season. It’s common for people to do their first round of planting as seeds started indoors and transplanted to the garden after the last frost, then do each successive planting as a direct sow method.

You can do this right until the end of the season. However, take note of how long your Cucumber variety takes to fully mature, as well as when the date of your expected first frost is.

You shouldn’t plant anything that won’t have time to fully mature before that first frost date.

For example, if the Cucumber variety you’re growing takes 60 days from start to finish, you shouldn’t plant it any later than 60 days from the last frost date in your area. Otherwise you risk a frost killing it before it gets to produce.

Starting Your Seeds Indoor/Early vs Direct Sow

If you live somewhere with a shorter growing season, you can really maximize your growing window by starting your seeds indoors a few weeks before the final frost in your area. That way, by the time the weather is warm enough to plant, you’ll have a small plant to put outside instead of needing to start just with a seed.

This also gives you more chances in case anything goes wrong. If your first plants don’t grow for some reason, you will know and then can try the direct sow method.

However, if you go the direct sow route and your seeds don’t grow, animals dig them up, or an unexpected late frost happens, you may not have enough of a growing window to replant them.

Cucumber seedling emerging from the soil, showcasing vibrant green leaves and tiny hairs on its stem.

(Image: rongthep17)

On average, it takes about 50 to 70 days to grow a Cucumber plant from seed to snack. Different varieties have different time frames, and they’ll grow faster in warmer climates than in cooler ones.

Knowing your growing zone, frost dates, and time it takes for the variety of Cucumber you chose to fully grow can help you decide if you want (or need) to start seeds indoors, or if direct sowing is suitable.

How To Determine Your Growing Zone and Frost Dates

To determine your growing zone, or plant hardiness zone, use the USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map.11

To determine your first and last frost dates, use the Almanac postal code search tool.12

Starting Seeds Indoors

To start your seeds indoors you’ll need the following items:

  • Seeds
  • Seed starter soil
  • Bucket or container
  • Hot water
  • Gloves
  • Seed starter trays or peat pots
  • Labels, if planting more than one variety
  • Heat mat, if using

Step by step, here’s what you’ll need to do to set up a batch of Cucumber seed starts:

  1. Take the seed starter soil and put it in the bucket or container.
  2. Take the hot water and add enough to the seed starter soil to thoroughly dampen it. Don’t add enough to turn it into mud, but it must be evenly moist.
    (The hot water will help kill any bad bacteria that may be in the soil that could harm your seeds or fragile starts when they grow.)
  3. Take your starter trays or peat pots and fill them almost to the top with the dampened soil. Leave about a quarter of an inch at the top.
    Don’t pack the soil in too much, but just slightly.
  4. In each tray’s cell or in each peat pot, plant two Cucumber seeds. Follow the instructions on the seed packet.
    Or, if you don’t have instructions, push the seeds down into the soil in the center of the cell/pot until the tips are just barely visible. They should be slightly spaced apart, but both in the center area of the cell/pot.
  5. Take a bit of the dampened soil and top off the cell/pot with just enough to cover the seed completely.
    The seed should have about a quarter of an inch of soil on top of it. No need to pack it down.
  6. Use a label to note what Cucumber plant variety you just planted and stake it in the side of the cell/pot. You can skip this step if you’re only growing one type of Cucumber.

Pick a designated area away from pets, kids and other things that may disturb the plants as they grow. Set up the heat mat, if using one, and set it to 70 degrees F.

Place the seed trays or pots onto the heat mat or into the designated area.

What To Expect and Do 3 to 10 Days After Planting Seeds

In about 3 to 10 days you should notice the seeds have germinated. They will look like small, pale points sticking up from the dirt.

At this point, your sprouting seeds need light. Set up your grow lights, or use bright window sills if you choose to go that route.

A grow light is highly recommended at this stage to ensure consistently bright light.

Young Cucumber plant seedling with two green leaves, supported by a bamboo stake with a golden clip, in a pot filled with a mix of soil and small pebbles.

(Image: doolysis17)

If using full spectrum grow lights, set the lights up so they are very close to the seedlings. They should be within an inch or two of touching them.

You will adjust the light upwards as the seeds grow, but always keep the light within an inch or two from the top of the plant.

If using a window sill, watch to make sure the plants are getting enough light and are not getting “leggy.” This is when the plant grows too tall and very thin due to it stretching out to try to get to the light source.

If you notice this happening, your plant will need more light in either a brighter window sill, or a grow light to supplement it. Leggy plants rarely survive as they are very weak and fragile.

Rotate your plants every other day or so to keep from getting too stretched out.

Note that you can put the seedlings outside in the direct sun if the weather is warm enough, or around at least 63 degrees F. If it’s colder, don’t do this as the seedlings may be too sensitive to the colder temperatures and have their growth stunted.

If you have a greenhouse, even a small backyard one, this can be a viable option and a way to give the plants plenty of natural sunlight and warm enough air temperatures.

Over the next few days you will see small leaves starting to form. These tiny leaves are known as seed leaves.

As the seedlings grow, the “true” leaves will start to form and the seed leaves will fall off.

This is normal and ok, so don’t get concerned and think your plant is dying when the seed leaves shrivel up and fall off. It’s a sign that your little plant is growing up!

Caring for Seedlings Before Transplanting Them

Over the next 5 to 6 weeks, before you plant your seedlings outside, caring for them will be very simple.

The 3 things you need to monitor are:

  1. Light
  2. Water
  3. Temperature

Make sure they get adequate light of at least 8 hours a day, and closer to 12 hours if you’re using artificial light.

Don’t let the seedlings get completely dry. Their root systems will be very small and fragile, so they’ll be at risk of drying up and dying very quickly without consistent moisture.

However, be careful not to drown the seedlings either. Keep the soil at a level that’s moist or damp soil, but not wet or soggy.

Water through the bottom if you can. If you’re using seed starter cells, simply place them in a shallow container of water and the soil will absorb the water through the holes in the bottom of the starter cells.

If you used peat pots or something without a bottom watering capability, it’s okay. Just be careful when watering to not add too much at one time or disrupt the young plant too much.

Using a spray bottle to gradually soak the soil just enough is a good option. Temperature shouldn’t be much of a concern since you’re growing the plants inside, so the temperature of your home is going to be sufficient.

Just remember that frost or cold temperature exposure can kill your fragile baby Cucumber plants, so don’t accidentally leave them outside overnight on a cold night or near a window that has a draft.

When To Transplant Your Seedlings

When the weather is right, you can transplant your seedlings into your garden. The ideal temperature for soil is 65 degrees F, and with air temperatures between 75 and 85.

It’s okay to have some temperatures that are colder and hotter than this for short times, but in general, you should be in the warmer days of the season.

The information in the “Direct Sowing Seeds Outdoors” section and onward has everything you need to know about transplanting your seedlings. You can follow that part of this guide and just substitute references to seeds with your seedlings.

Just be careful when removing the seedlings from the small planting cells as their root systems will be delicate. If you planted in peat pots, you can plant the entire pot into the ground as it will decompose.

How To Handle Colder Nights and Hotter Days After Planting

If there is a night that’s colder than average after you transplant, you can add some mulch or black plastic around the base of the plant to help boost the temperature.

During an exceptionally hot day or multiple days, consider adding a temporary structure for some shade from the hottest sun of the day, and make sure the plants don’t dry out. If they show signs of wilting, they are starting to get too dry and need water immediately.

Direct Sowing Seeds Outdoors

If you plan to directly sow your seeds in your garden or outdoor growing containers, you should do it no less than 2 weeks after the last frost date for your area has gone.

Frost can easily kill your Cucumber plant, and cold will keep the seed from ever germinating.

Cucumber seedlings emerging from the soil in a segmented tray.

(Image: Petr Smagin16)

The same rules apply here as for transplanting seedlings. Direct sow the seeds when the soil is 65 degrees F and air temperatures are between 75 and 85 degrees F on average.

What Soil Do Cucumber Plants Need?

Cucumber plants need very fertile soil. Add 2 inches or so of compost or aged manure fertilizer to the garden bed or container you plan to grow in.

Work this down to about 6 to 8 inches of depth so the roots are able to get to it easily. The best pH for soil for Cucumber plants is about 6.5 to 7.0, ideally.

How Far Apart To Plant Cucumbers

If you are not going to trellis them, Cucumber plants should be planted about 3 to 5 feet apart. This accounts for the 5 plus feet of vines that the plants will create.

If they’re going to be trellised, you can grow them 12 inches apart, as the vines will take up vertical space versus horizontal space.

If you’re growing a bush type of Cucumber, follow the directions on the packet to see how large the bush will be, but on average 12 inches is a suitable space between bush Cucumbers.

If you’re growing in containers, each plant will need its own pot that is around 12 inches wide and deep, ideally. Much smaller than this and the plant will likely be stunted and not grow as much as it would otherwise.

Caring for Cucumber Plants as They Grow

Cucumber plants are very easy to care for once they’re growing. They need minimal attention and care for most of the growing season.


You Cucumber plants will need at least one inch of water per week in average temperatures. During hot weeks, this will increase.

Watering inconsistently, especially after the Cucumber fruits are being produced, will cause the fruit to taste bitter, so this is something you’ll want to keep up with.

When watering, you should always do so early in the morning, or late in the afternoon.

Rows of healthy Cucumber plants with large green leaves growing inside a greenhouse, supported by strings attached to the overhead structure.

(Image: MetsikGarden17)

Make sure to water from the bottom and only soak the soil, avoiding the leaves as much as possible. This will help ward off fungal and other diseases that can be spread on your plants while watering.


Cucumber plants need at least 6 hours of bright, direct sun every day. There isn’t much you’ll need to do at this point since the sun is on its own schedule.

If a few days of cloudy weather occur, it’s fine.

Be mindful of extra hot days where the hot temperatures and direct sun may be too much for your plants, especially if they’re younger. In this case, you may need to provide some shade during those days.

Typically, as long as you chose an area to plant that gets enough direct sun, this will be nothing for you to have to worry about.


If you added compost or manure fertilizer into the soil before you planted, as noted above, you may not have to worry much about fertilizing.

In this case, just add some extra compost or manure fertilizer to the soil once every 3 weeks or so after the plants start blooming.

If you didn’t add those amendments to the soil, it’s ok.

You can add an organic plant fertilizer directly to the soil 1 week after the plants start blooming. Then add it every 3 weeks.

While it may be tempting to do so, don’t over-fertilize your plants or the fruits will get stunted and not grow properly.

Controlling Weeds

Weeds are a common nightmare for just about every gardener. Luckily, there are a few super simple tactics that you can use to help prevent them with little effort.

Add mulch around the plant. Soil that’s not covered with anything will grow weeds much faster than soil that has mulch or another amendment on it.

Get a hand tool that will scrape the weeds away when they’re small.

Consider incorporating a few minutes a day of weeding to your daily routine.

Just a few minutes a day of active weed-pulling will help the issue from getting out of control. It will also give you a chance to get to know what’s going on with your plants, if they have any pest issues developing or need more water.

While you may be tempted to spray a weed killer on your garden, it’s not recommended to do this as those products are highly toxic and will go into the root system of your plant, and thus into the Cucumbers you will later consume. Stick to organic methods as much as possible.

How Does Cucumber Plant Pollination Work?

Pollination is the process by which pollen from male flowers on the plant is physically transferred to female flowers on the plant. This typically occurs with the help of insects known as pollinators, such as the one everyone knows, the mighty bee.

Other insects can pollinate as well, and it can even be done by hand.

Not every Cucumber variety needs pollination to occur in order for it to produce Cucumbers. These types are considered to be self-fertile and will be referred to as parthenocarpic.

Cucumber plants with vibrant yellow flowers and young green cucumbers growing close to the soil, surrounded by a lush green leaves.

(Image: artellliii7217)

They are not as common as the other type that does need pollination to occur.

The majority of Cucumber varieties require pollination in order for Cucumbers to be produced.

These types are known as monoecious. In these plants, Cucumber fruits will never fully develop and will stay small and eventually fall off the vine if they aren’t properly pollinated.

The self-fertile varieties are great for growing in places where pollinators may not be so available, such as in indoor greenhouses.

How Can You Boost Pollination Rates of Cucumber Plants?

If you want to help boost the pollination rates of your Cucumber plants, you absolutely can. All you need to do is do things to attract the pollinators.

Plant vibrant, colorful flowers around your patio or outdoor garden space to help attract bees there who want the flower nectar.

While visiting the flowers, the bees will end up stopping for some pollen in your Cucumber plant flowers and as a result, will pollinate them for you.

Building a Cucumber Trellis: Step-By-Step Guides

Trellises are a fantastic way to grow vertically to get more growing space. They also help keep your Cucumber plants off the ground and less susceptible to pests and diseases, and make harvesting so much easier.

Cucumbers that grow touching the ground are highly likely to get discolorations, soggy spots, and curls. In a trellis, they grow straighter and healthier.

You should set up your trellises early so that your plants can nicely grow into them. Trying to set them up after your plants are already big enough to need them can result in damage to your plants.

Here are a few step-by-step guides for growing 3 classic, versatile and simple trellises.

1. A-Frame Trellis

This type of trellis is shaped like a big letter “A” and allows plants to vine or grow up one side of it, over the top, and down the other side.

The A-shape helps utilize space by giving each plant two vertical plants to grow on, one going up, and the other going back down.

The middle space also makes it easier when harvesting fruiting plants like Cucumbers because the fruits will hang down into the open space between the vertical growing platforms.

Graphic of an A-frame trellis with climbing plants against a background of a grassy field and distant trees.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to build an A-frame trellis for your Cucumber plants.

Tools needed:

  • Measuring tape
  • Pen or pencil
  • Saw of some sort
  • Staple gun with 5/8-inch staples
  • Wire cutters
  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Clamps

Building materials needed:

  • 8 garden stakes (recommended to use ones that are 4 feet long and 1 inch x 1 inch)
  • 8 2 inch long galvanized wood screws (Using galvanized screws will minimize the risk of rust stains on your trellis)
  • 1 4 foot x 8 foot sheet of concrete rebar mesh with 6 inch squares (This will be cut into two 35 inch x 31 inch pieces)
  • 2 stainless-steel galvanized hinges with screws (recommended to use ones that are 2 inches wide)
  • Optional: 2 cans of spray paint in whatever color you want your trellis to be

Part 1: Assembling the Trellis Frame

  1. Saw two of the garden stakes so that they are each 34 inches long (instead of 4 feet long).
  2. To form the top of the frame, take one of the uncut 4 foot garden stakes and attach it to each end of the 34 inch garden stakes with the wood screws.
  3. From the bottom of the 34 inch stake segment, measure 30 inches down and make a mark on the stake there.
  4. To form the bottom of the frame, take another garden stake and line the top of it up with the mark you just made. Attach it with wood screws at that location.
  5. If you choose to spray paint your A-frame, you can do it now. Make sure to do it in a well-ventilated area (or preferably outside).
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 to make a second frame.

Part 2: Attaching the Grid to the Frame

  1. Cut the piece of rebar mesh into into two pieces, each being 35 inches x 31 inches.
  2. Line one of the pieces up with the edges of one side of the frame.
  3. Use a staple gun to secure the rebar mesh to the frame. You can hammer the staples in to create a more secure frame.
  4. Repeat this for the other side of the frame, with the other piece of rebar mesh.

Part 3: Assembling the Trellis

  1. Take the two frames and stand them back to back, with the stapled sides facing one another.
  2. Clamp them at the upper corners to hold them together.
  3. Measure 12 inches in from the top corners. This is where the frame’s hinges will go.
  4. Place the hinges, and use a pen/pencil to mark where the holes on the hinges line up on the frame.
  5. Using the drill, attach the hinges with screws at the marked locations.

You’re done!

2. Classic Lattice Trellis

This is truly a classic trellis that adds beauty and dimension to any outdoor space. It’s versatile, strong, and will help support all your vining plants.

You can build this against a side of a house or shed, or as a standalone structure if you add support.

Graphic of a classic lattice trellis covered with green plants and flowers set against a grassy landscape.

Note that the instructions below are for a lattice trellis that’s 4 feet by 4 feet, but you can adjust this to be anything you choose, whether it’s bigger or smaller in any direction. The process will be the same.

Tools needed:

  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Electric drill driver
  • Stain applicator
  • Sledgehammer or post-hole digger (see part 1 of the instructions to decide which you will need)

Building materials needed:

  • Spiked post holders
  • Galvanized nails
  • Galvanized screws (Using galvanized nails and screws will minimize the risk of rust stains on your trellis)
  • 1″ x 3″ or 1″ x 4″ boards
  • 1″ x 1″ cleats
  • 4′ x 4′ lattice
  • Outdoor wood stain

Part 1: Create a Lattice Frame

  1. Take your sheet of lattice and frame it with the boards.
  2. Screw the framed lattice to the cleats.

Now that you have your lattice frame created, you can get exact measurements for how far apart to place the posts in the next step.

Part 2: Secure the Vertical Posts

Choose where you want your trellis to be. Common options are against the side of a house, against an out-building like a shed or greenhouse, or even as a standalone trellis where both sides can be used to grow on.

After you select your space, here are the next steps. (There are two options here):

Option 1: The first and fastest way is to use a sledgehammer to drive spiked post holders into the ground where you want your vertical support to be. Use screws or nails to attach posts to the base of the spike post holders.

Option 2: A second, more permanent installation option is to use a post-hole digger and excavate post holes that are between 30 and 36 inches deep, and as narrow in diameter as possible.

Add about six inches of gravel to each hole and tamp it down. Put a post into the center of each hole and add concrete around it, filling it a few inches below the surface.

Fill the top few inches with soil to help blend the post area into the surrounding earth for a cleaner finish.

If you don’t want to use concrete, you can fill the holes with a mixture of gravel and soil instead. Make sure to tamp down the mixture every few shovelfuls to keep it compact and sturdy.

Part 3: Sealing and Staining the Trellis

To make the trellis look more uniform and help protect it from the elements, use an organic wood stain on it.

3. Pointed Trellis

A pointed trellis is a super easy and super cute way to help support your Cucumber plants. It gives your garden space a cool native vibe, and really helps utilize vertical space without much effort.

In fact, it requires the least amount of materials, manpower and time spent on building it as any of the other trellis projects require.

Graphic of a pointed trellis covered with climbing plants and flowers, set against a background of a grassy field and distant trees under a blue sky.

Note that the instructions are for a 5-post teepee trellis, but you can use the same approach for any number of posts you wish to include. After you get the basics down of this trellis, feel free to experiment with larger, taller teepee trellises for a truly eye-catching piece in your garden.

Tools needed:

  • A hammer or a mallet

Building materials needed:

  • 5 poles, about 6 feet long each (bamboo is a great choice, but you can use any wood or even plastic piping or sturdy tree branches or large twigs for a rustic feel)
  • Garden twine

Part 1: Set Your Center Pole

Take one of the poles and hammer it into the ground where you want the center of your pointed trellis to sit. This center pole will be the support pole for the other 4 poles.

Part 2: Build the Teepee

Take the other 4 poles and evenly space them around the center support pole. Lean the tops of the poles against the center support pole, and either push or hammer the bases of the poles into the dirt.

Part 3: Secure the Teepee

Take the garden twine and wrap it around the tops of the poles. Make sure to go underneath and above the poles, and inside and outside, weaving it through to create a secure wrap on the poles.

Part 4: Create a Twine Lattice for Vines to Climb

Take the twine and tie it to one of the poles about a quarter of the way down. Wrap it around all of the poles to create a horizontal place for your Cucumber vines to attach to.

Repeat this step multiple times down the length of the pointed trellis so your plants will have support at all stages of their growth.

How To Build a Small Space Teepee Trellis for Container Cucumber Plants

Follow the same steps above in the pointed teepee trellis section but use shorter poles. You also won’t need the hammer or mallet since your container won’t be as compacted as the dirt outside is.

Everything else will remain the same.

Other Inventive Ways To Grow Cucumbers

Other than the usual methods to grow Cucumbers here are some inventive ways you can use to grow Cucumbers in your property.

Strings on a Patio

If you’re growing Cucumber plants on your patio and need to make the most out of limited space, you’re going to want to trellis. However, you probably don’t have room on your patio to create any of the large trellis projects outlined above.

Your entire patio may even be smaller than the lattice in a lattice trellis.

If that’s the case, you’re going to love the super simple string method. All you need is some sort of twine, and something to tie it to.

If you want your plant vines to grow upwards, you can use a small plant hanging hook installed above where your plants will be, and can tie the string to the hook and secure the other end close to where the plants are growing from.

If you aren’t able to install a small plant hook or something similar, you can build a small teepee trellis inside the growing container and run strings vertically from the top of the teepee to where the plants are growing from. The Cucumber vines will be able to trail up the strings, supported by the teepee.

If you’re growing on a second floor or higher up patio, you can grow downwards and just hang the string off the edge of your patio for your plants to vine down. Just make sure you secure the side of the vine that starts near your plants, such as by tying the end to a small bamboo stake you sick in your growing container.

Repurpose a Ladder

If you have an old ladder lying around, spray paint it a fun, vibrant color and use it as a premade A-frame style of trellis. Your plants will love vining up and around the steps, and down the other side.

A wooden ladder leaning against a wooden wall, beside several clay pots.

(Image: PublicDomainPictures17)

Repurposing a ladder in your garden as a trellis will add a unique, DIY-looking style to your space with barely any extra effort, and will be sure to be sturdy under any weight your Cucumber plants may grow to.

Reuse Tomato Cages

If you’ve grown tomatoes before and have some tomato cages lying around, you can reuse them for Cucumber vines.

Just because they’re called tomato cages doesn’t mean they’re limited to that use. They’ll work great with Cucumbers and other vining plants that will be able to grow up the cage and climb and vine throughout it.

Companion Plants for Growing Cucumber Plants

Companion planting is a simple and smart method of growing multiple types of plants together to allow each of them to reap the benefits the others provide.

For example, some plants produce compounds that repel insects that like to eat the neighboring plant, protecting it from the pests. And others call in pollinators that help the neighboring plant produce more fruit.

Ripening tomatoes in various stages of red and green, hanging beside long green Cucumbers, all surrounded by lush foliage in a garden.

(Image: planet_fox17)

Here are some great companion plants for Cucumber plants, and the benefits each will provide.

Attract Pollinators

Cucumber plants, like most plants, rely heavily on pollination to produce their fruits. The more pollinators you have around, the more likely you are to have an abundance of Cucumbers.

And, without them, your Cucumbers won’t do so well.

When you companion plant with pollinators like bees in mind,13 you’re helping to ensure a higher likelihood of pollinated flowers, and thus, fruits. Planting vibrant flowers that attract pollinators to the area will help boost the pollination of your Cucumber plant flowers, and will look beautiful, too.

Here are some plants that pollinators love:

  • Calendula: These stunning flowers grow quickly and in a variety of conditions. They reseed themselves easily, so you’ll be surprised at how abundantly they grow all season.
    Bees, butterflies and beneficial insects are attracted to them in part because they have a very high pollen content.
  • Bee Balm: The name says it all. Bees love these fluffy flowers that come in a variety of colors and flower styles.

Repel Pests/Attract Beneficial Insects

You can strategically plant companion plants near your Cucumber plants to help repel insects that love feeding on Cucumbers, like Cucumber beetles and aphids. Companion plants that repel pests are often highly fragrant flowers and herbs.

Some plants also attract insects that act as pests to the pests. They’ll attract the insects who feed on things like aphids.

Here’s a list of companion plants that will help repel pests from your Cucumber plants:

  • Chrysanthemums: These gorgeous flowers are a super strong repellent to a variety of disruptive insect pests like squash bugs, spider mites and Cucumber beetles. They’re known to have a natural pesticide of naturally-occurring compounds that will disrupt the nervous system of pests.
  • Dill: Cucumber and dill are a notorious duo in the kitchen. But they’re also amazing garden mates.
    Dill attracts a variety of bugs that prey on Cucumber beetles, aphids and mites, such as ladybugs and wasps.
  • Oregano: This herb has a strong, spicy scent that aphids hate. Its flowers are a favorite food for lacewings, which have larvae that eat insects that can harm a Cucumber plant.
  • Marigolds: When these vibrant orange flowers bloom, they have a super sticky and musky resin that Cucumber beetles and aphids can’t stand. Ladybugs like them, and ladybugs will help your garden by hunting down aphids.

Act as Living Trellises

Make the most of your garden space by growing one type of plant along with another that can climb it, creating a living trellis system.

These plants help act as a natural trellis to support Cucumber plants:

  • Sunflowers: These beautiful flowers create a great stalk for your Cucumber plant to vine up. Consider adding some of these fast-growing flowers to your garden as gorgeous living trellises.
  • Corn: Corn has a very strong, solid stalk that your Cucumber will love to climb up. The corn stalk leaves will provide just the right amount of slight shade on hot summer days to help protect your Cucumber a bit.

Boost Nutrients

Companion planting for nutrient exchange is an excellent way to make the most out of your soil and available nutrients. Some plants produce the nutrients that another plant needs, making them great garden mates.

Some plants that work well to help boost your Cucumber plants’ nutrients include the following:

  • Borage: This flowering plant has a very deep root system, which helps pull up nutrients from deep in the ground. This is very beneficial to Cucumber plants, which have a very shallow root system.
    As an added bonus, borage is very attractive to pollinators and bugs that eat pest insects in your garden.
  • Peas and beans: Cucumbers love nitrogen, and peas and beans are known to produce a lot of it in their root systems. This means the nitrogen will be available for use by your Cucumber plants if you plant them near each other.
    Since they’re both plants that typically need a trellis, you can have them share the same trellis system as well.

Maximize Your Growing Space

Cucumber plants take up a lot of space in a garden, so companion planting to maximize your growing space is a fantastic way to add in additional plants to your Cucumber plant patch.

Green Cucumber plant growing vertically on a support stake, with its green broad leaves, in a greenhouse.

(Image: Filmbetrachter17)

These plants all grow nicely in the same area as Cucumbers, without competing for space or resources:

  • Lettuces: Lettuce doesn’t need much growing space, but it likes a cool, shaded area. Growing it at the base of Cucumber plants will let the large Cucumber leaves provide it with shade.
  • Radishes: Radishes are small and grow fast, making them a perfect plant to grow near Cucumbers since they don’t get too large and are easy to harvest.
  • Carrots: Carrots will benefit from the shade provided by the Cucumber plants, while being a very minimally intrusive crop below since most of their growth occurs under the ground.
  • Beets: Beets are like radishes in that they are fast-growing and stay on the smaller side, and will be a great way to make use of the space near Cucumber plants.

What Not To Plant Near Cucumber Plants

There are a few plants which you should not plant within at least 20 feet or so of your Cucumber plants.

  • Zucchini, squash and melons: These plants share a lot of common pests and diseases with Cucumbers. Planting them too close together increases your risk of the pests or diseases taking hold and spreading.
    It’s best to put some distance between these types of plants.
  • Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale: Basically any brassica plant should not be planted too close to Cucumber plants. Not only do they share some of the same diseases and pests, but brassicas are known for heavily depleting soil for resources like water and nutrients.
    Anything you plant near these plants will basically have to compete for resources. Because Cucumbers are heavy consumers of water too, this will potentially create issues for you.
  • Sage and fennel: Both of these plants are known to create compounds that can stunt the growth of a Cucumber plant if planted too closely by.
  • Mint: Mint really shouldn’t be planted near anything, as it grows and spreads like crazy if not contained.

When To Harvest Cucumber Plants

If you’re growing slicing Cucumbers, they should be harvested when they’re about 6 to 8 inches long. Pickling Cucumbers should be harvested a bit sooner, when they’re about 4 to 6 inches long.

It’s better to pick Cucumbers when they’re smaller versus too large for a number of reasons:

  • The more often you pick Cucumbers, the more your plant will produce. Likewise, if you don’t pick them and let them grow too large, your plant will stop producing and will put all of its energy into the large Cucumbers currently growing.
    You’ll be able to pick Cucumbers every few days at the peak of the season.
  • The larger Cucumbers get, the more bitter they will get.
  • Larger Cucumbers have larger, tougher seeds and tougher skin.

Once ripe Cucumbers start to appear, you should start to check the vines daily for ripe and ready fruit, as they grow fast once they reach peak season. You’ll likely find ripe Cucumbers to pick almost every day once the peak of the season hits.

If a Cucumber is showing signs of yellowing at the end where the flower was, it means it’s overripe and should be picked immediately.

How To Harvest Cucumber Plants

When harvesting Cucumbers, always use clippers, scissors or a knife to cut the fruit off the plant by snipping the thin green vine connecting it to the larger vine.

A hand using a red-handled knife to carefully harvest a ripe Cucumber from its plant, surrounded by green leaves.

(Image: Couleur17)

Don’t just yank or pull the Cucumber off the vine as you risk damaging or tearing the vine and killing the entire plant.

How To Store Harvested Cucumbers

Store harvested Cucumbers in the refrigerator to keep them freshest the longest. They should last for about a week to a week and a half.

You can also pickle your Cucumbers, using a water bath canning method.

Common Problems With Cucumber Plants and Some Solutions

Here are some common problems that people often experience when growing Cucumbers, and some possible solutions.

  1. Fruits aren’t developing, but flowers are: You may have an issue with pollination. Your plants likely aren’t getting pollinated.
    As a quick fix, try getting some colorful potted flowers and putting them close to your Cucumber plants to attract more pollinators to the area.
  2. My Cucumbers taste bitter: You may have waited too long to pick the Cucumbers. Try picking one that is smaller in size and see if the taste is less bitter.
    The longer Cucumbers sit on the vine, the more bitter they get.
  3. My Cucumber vine got its first flowers and they all fell off: This is actually normal. The first flowers to form are male flowers, and they do not form into the Cucumber fruit.
    Your plant should bloom more flowers that are both male and female shortly and continue with pollination.

Cucumber Plant Pest and Disease Prevention

Cucumber plants are a tasty treat to a number of destructive, annoying pests including thrips, whiteflies, squash bugs, Cucumber beetles, spider mites, aphids and squash vine borers.

These pests harm the plant in a number of ways, by eating the plant and causing death or heavy damage, or by transmitting diseases to the plant, including bacterial issues. Many pests cause both types of issues for Cucumber plants.

Cucumbers are susceptible to a variety of diseases including the all too common powdery mildew, Cucumber mosaic virus, bacterial wilt and downy mildew.

While some of these issues are very difficult to get rid of once your Cucumber plant has been infected (mosaic virus and bacterial wilt, for example), there are a number of easy steps you can take to avoid these issues.

How can you prevent such things in the first place, and what should you do if you already have an active pest problem?

Reduce Overhead Watering

Overhead watering is a major way that fungal infections spread in a garden. If you have one leaf that’s having an overgrowth of fungus and you water over it, the water runs down onto other leaves, spreading the fungus.

Splashing water droplets that hold fungus is another way that overhead watering speeds up the spread of garden diseases.

Damp leaves are also able to grow and harbor fungal infections more readily than dry leaves.

Always try to water your garden from the bottom, directly putting the water onto the soil at the base of the plant, versus watering from overhead.

Remove Infected Plants Quickly

If you do notice a plant in your garden is showing signs of disease or extreme pest infestation, you need to remove it and dispose of it properly to keep it from infecting the rest of your garden. Catching this early can be the difference between stopping the spread, or losing everything in your entire garden that’s susceptible to whatever the issue is.

A Cucumber beetle with a green and black patterned shell clings to the fuzzy stem of a young cucumber plant near a yellow flower bud.

(Image: IlonaBurschl17)

If you have to remove a plant, don’t just remove it and throw it on a compost pile or back near some wooded areas. Fungus spores can still spread via the air, and if you compost the plant you will infect your entire compost pile and then add the infection back to the soil.

It’s best to dispose of it in a garbage bag and throw it out with the trash. Remove it fully from your space and treat it like it’s something harmful to your garden, because it is.

Companion Plant To Repel Pests

As noted in an earlier section, companion planting is a fantastic way to harness the power of nature to create a garden space that pests don’t want to be in. Check out some of the options for planting near Cucumber plants and incorporate as many of them as possible to help keep a balance of beneficial plants in your garden.

Trellis Plants Whenever Possible

Trellising plants actually serves a purpose when it comes to pest and disease avoidance. When you keep the plant elevated off the ground, it makes it more difficult for pests to get to it.

It also helps aerate the plant much better, and the increase in air supply helps keep fungal infections away.

Plants that sit on the ground, especially if it’s in a damp condition like moist soil, are at a much higher risk for developing a soft, slightly rotted area that will then attract bugs to that weak point. The bugs will attack that point, making the problem worse and helping to spread diseases.

Trellised plants get better airflow and have very few if any areas where the plant sits on the moist soil.

Use Neem Oil Spray Treatments

If you do have an active fungal infection or pest infestation in your garden, neem oil spray can potentially save your harvest if applied soon enough, often enough and correctly.14

Neem oil is non-toxic, organic and biodegradable. It comes from a plant that’s native to South Asia and India, and it’s used heavily in organic gardening for disease and pest prevention and treatment.

It is effective at repelling and/or killing a number of harmful insects and pests including mites, snails, gnats, cabbage worms, mealybugs, aphids, whiteflies and more.

It works by killing adult bugs and larvae, as well as repelling others that would eat the plant. This is due to its very bitter taste.

Neem oil also helps destroy some viruses that can infect your Cucumber plants. You can see why this is a must-have tool for gardeners.

If you want to use neem oil to help prevent issues in your garden, apply it once every week or two according to the dilution directions included on the package you have.

If you have active disease or pest infestations, apply it every week until the issue is eliminated. Then, revert to using it once every two weeks as preventative care.

How To Use It as a Spray

Mix pure Neem oil with water according to the ratio noted on the package instructions. Spray the solution on both sides of the plant’s leaves, making sure to get as full coverage as possible.

Shake the mixture often to ensure the oil and water don’t separate too much. Some gardeners will mix it with an insecticidal soap for extra insurance, or for treating extremely bad pest infestations.

Note: Only apply this on cloudy days or wait until evening, as applying it to leaves in full sun can cause the leaves to burn.

Choose Disease-Resistant Varieties of Cucumber Plants To Grow

Choosing to grow disease-resistant varieties of Cucumbers can really help prevent issues in your garden like powdery mildew and mosaic disease. A few of these disease-resistant varieties were noted in the earlier section about the best Cucumber varieties to grow in a hot and humid environment.

Close up of young green Cucumbers growing on a Cucumber plant with fresh leaves and tendrils.

(Image: Timapa17)

Even if you choose a disease-resistant variety, you should still consider all of the above-noted practices to help keep your garden disease-free and as pest-free as possible.

Whether you’re an experienced gardener looking to add Cucumbers to your collection of backyard crops, or wanting to experiment for the first time with growing something edible on your urban apartment balcony, Cucumbers are a joy to grow.

They’re so versatile, with options suited for small containers and spaces, and options ready to climb up a tall trellis.

With a little time, patience and attention, you can have healthy, tasty Cucumbers growing from tiny little seeds in less than 2 months from start to finish.


  • Know your last and first frost dates
  • Choose a vining or bush variety
  • Plant seeds indoors early, or wait and direct sow
  • Pay attention to light, temperature and water needs
  • Companion plant to help attract pollinators and repel pests
  • Build or buy a trellis
  • Harvest often and before Cucumbers get overly ripe

Growing different varieties of Cucumber plant can provide an excellent way to try all sorts and choose your favorites based on taste and use.


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