Vegetable Overview: Cucumbers

cucumbers

Discover how to grow cucumbers with instructions on starting seed, transplanting, site selection, care and maintenance, water and fertilization requirements, pests and disease, and harvesting and storage.

Cucumbers Stats at a Glance

Soil Conditions: Well-drained soil with high fertility

Sun: Full sun

Soil pH Conditions: 6.0-7.0

Planting Instructions

Can I Start Cucumbers from Seed?

To start indoors, fill individual peat pots with a fertile commercial soil starter and moisten.  Sprinkle the seeds on the surface of the soil. Press them lightly into the soil to ensure contact with growing medium. Place in a room with a constant temperature of 85°F.  Cover with clear plastic wrap to maintain the soil moisture and temperature.  Keep the soil moist.  When seedlings appear, remove the plastic wrap and move to a sunny location.

Seeds can be direct sown into the garden as soon as threat of frost has passed and the soil temperature is above 65°F.

 

**Seeds will germinate at temperatures between 60-90°F.  The higher the temperature the faster they will germinate.

 

When to Start Seeds: 10-14 days prior to planting

Time to Germination: 5-10 days

Light/Darkness Requirements: Either

Optimal Temp. for Germination: 85°F

 

When Do I Plant Cucumbers?

Cucumbers are sensitive to cold so it is important that you wait to plant seeds or transplants until all threat of frost has passed and the soil is at least 65°F.  Seeds will germinate very slowly at this minimal temperature so it may be worth waiting to plant until the weather and soil warm sufficiently.  Seeds will not germinate at soil temperatures below 50°F.

Soil Temperature: 65°F

 

Where Do I Plant Cucumbers?

Though cucumbers will grow in nearly any soil, they prefer loose, fertile soil that is well-drained. Cucumbers require a soil with high fertility. Working in nutrient rich compost to the soil prior to planting is a good first step.  A soil test can help to establish the soil pH, which can be altered according to test results.

 

Soil Type:  Loose, fertile soil that is well-drained.

Sun Exposure: Full sun

Soil pH: 6.0-7.0

 

How Far Apart Do I Plant Cucumbers?

For direct seeding, space cucumbers 2” apart in rows 5-6 feet apart then thin to 8-15” apart.

Established transplants can be planted 8-15” apart.

Cucumbers Plant Care and Maintenance

How Often Should I Water Cucumbers?

The key to watering cucumbers is to maintain a consistent moisture level.  The soil should be moist to a depth of 6”.  Allowing the soil to dry out between watering will result fruit that is bitter.

Drip irrigation and mulch around the plant will help to lock in moisture.

 

Should I Fertilize Cucumbers?

Fertilizing decisions should be based on a soil test.  If a soil test cannot be obtained, cucumbers generally perform well with a 5-10-10 fertilizer worked into the soil prior to planting.  Do not fertilize again until blossoming has occurred.  Once the plant is established, side-dress the hills.

Leaves that turn yellow may indicate a nitrogen deficiency and warrant a dressing of high nitrogen fertilizer.  A potassium deficiency is usually indicated by leaf bronzing.

Be forewarned that over fertilizing, especially with too much nitrogen will encourage vine and leaf growth at the expense of fruit development.

 

Cucumbers Diseases

The most common diseases associated with this plant include bacterial wilt, cucumber mosaic virus, downy mildew, leaf spot, powdery mildew, and scab.

Cucumbers Pests

The most common pests associated with this plant include aphids, cucumber beetles, squash vine borer.

Harvesting and Storing Cucumbers

When Do I Harvest Cucumbers?

When the blossom falls off the fruit, cucumbers are ready to harvest.  It is important to harvest them frequently to encourage new fruit production. Large cucumbers may become bitter and they also inhibit production of additional fruit.  Yellow ends generally indicate that the fruit has become over-ripened.

 

How Do I Harvest Cucumbers?

Using a sterile knife or scissors, cut the fruit free from the vine above the growing tip.  Pulling or snapping them free can result in vine damage.

 

How Do I Store Cucumbers?

For the freshest flavor, use cucumbers immediately after picking.

Cucumbers should be stored in the refrigerator, but are cold-sensitive.  Temperatures below 45 °F will result in cold injury within a few days. Temperatures of 50-55°F are optimal.

 

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