Cucumbers are a refreshing and delicious vegetable to be eaten fresh or pickled. Cucumbers require warm temperatures and fertile soil that is evenly moist. They also benefit from aged manure and organic mulch to help keep moisture in the soil. Cucumbers come in various shapes and sizes, including growing Vining cucumbers, and bush types (Bush Champion, Salad Bush) grow like bush beans. Vine cucumbers require trellising or support, while bush varieties can be grown without support.
Cucumbers can be started indoors from seed or planted as transplants in the vegetable garden. Sowing seeds indoors at the right time is essential, as soil temperature plays a significant role in seed germination. When seedlings sprout, you can transplant them into the garden after the last frost date. While cucumbers are relatively easy to grow, they can be susceptible to various diseases and pests. Common cucumber diseases include powdery mildew and bacterial wilt, while cucumber beetles are a common pest to attack cucumbers.
In our guide, you can learn more about what do cucumbers need to grow their best. By the end, you’ll better understand the growing conditions that lead to a full-grown cucumber plant and when to harvest cucumbers for lots of fresh fruit. (Read Does Basil Need Full Sun)
How Many Hours of Sun Do Cucumbers Need?
If you’re planning to grow cucumbers, one of the most important factors to consider is how much sun and sunlight. Cucumbers are sun-loving plants, and they need plenty of it to grow and produce healthy fruit.
Soil and Temperature
Cucumbers prefer well-draining, fertile soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0 yet can tolerate slightly alkaline soil. They also need warm soil to thrive, with temperatures between 70 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit being ideal. Use a soil thermometer to take its temperature to ensure your soil is warm enough.
To keep your soil fertile, add well-rotted manure or compost, and then toss in an inch of native soil before planting and growing cucumbers. This provides your growing cucumbers the nutrients they need to set fruit. You can also use organic mulch from chopped leaves to moisten the soil.
Can Cucumbers Grow in Shade?
While cucumbers prefer full sun, they can tolerate partial shade. If your garden doesn’t get a lot of full sun, you can still grow cucumbers, but you must be strategic about where you plant them. Look for areas with morning sun to help keep dew and moisture off the cucumber vines. You can also consider planting vining cucumbers on a trellis, which will help them get more sunlight.
However, too much sun can also be a problem for cucumbers. If they get too much direct sunlight, their leaves can become scorched, and they may produce fewer male and female flowers and fruit. Manual pollination can be done by gathering pollen from the male flowers and dabbing this onto the center of the female flower.
To prevent this, you can provide afternoon shade for your cucumber plants. This can be done by planting them near taller plants or using shade cloth. (Read Do Roses Need Full Sun)
Starting Cucumbers Indoors
You can start the seeds indoors before transplanting them outside to grow cucumbers. This can be a great option if you want a head start on the growing season or have a shorter growing season in your area.
- The cucumber seedlings should emerge. Once they have two sets of true leaves, you can transplant them outside.
- Ensure to harden them off by gradually exposing them to outdoor conditions before planting them in the ground.
- Starting cucumbers indoors can be a great way to get a head start on the growing season and ensure a successful crop.
Following these tips, you can sow cucumber seeds indoors and have healthy seedlings ready for transplanting.
Starting Cucumbers Indoors
To start cucumbers indoors, follow a few simple steps to get your seedlings to the best possible start. Here’s what you must do:
- Choose your seeds: Choose high-quality cucumber seeds from a reputable supplier. Look for seeds that are labeled as suitable for indoor growing.
- Sow your seeds indoors: Sow your cucumber seeds indoors in small pots or seed trays filled with good-quality seed compost. Sow the seeds about 1/2 inch deep and cover them lightly with compost. Water the soil gently and cover the pots or trays with plastic wrap or a plastic dome to help retain moisture.
- Keep the soil moist: Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Water the soil lightly with a watering can or spray bottle so you don’t disturb the seeds. The soil should be kept moist until the seedlings emerge.
- Provide light: Cucumber seeds need light to germinate, so place your pots or trays in a bright, warm spot, like a sunny windowsill or under grow lights. Ensure the temperature is between 70°F and 85°F.
- Thin out the seedlings: Once your seedlings emerge, thin them out so you have one strong seedling per pot or cell. This will give your cucumber plants enough space to grow strong roots and produce fruit.
- Harden off seedlings: You must harden them off before transplanting your seedlings outdoors. This means gradually exposing them to outdoor conditions, like wind and sun, over 7 to 10 days. Begin by giving them some shade outside for a couple of hours each day and slowly build up their time outside.
Starting cucumbers indoors is a great way to get a head start on the growing season and ensure a healthy, productive crop. With some care and attention, your cucumber seedlings will soon be ready to transplant outdoors and produce delicious, juicy cucumbers. (Read Do Chrysanthemums Need Full Sun)
Can Cucumbers Grow in Indirect Sunlight?
If you have limited space or your garden is shaded, you may wonder if cucumbers can grow in indirect sunlight.
The short answer is yes, cucumbers can grow in indirect sunlight, but they won’t produce as much fruit as they would in full sunlight.
When to Plant Cucumbers
When planting cucumbers in indirect sunlight, choosing the right time of year is essential.
Cucumbers are warm-season vegetables and need warm soil to germinate and grow. Plant cucumbers after the last frost date in your area, when the soil has warmed up to at least 60°F.
How to Plant Cucumbers
When planting cucumbers in indirect sunlight, choose a site that gets at least 6 hours of sun per day. If your garden is shaded, try planting cucumbers in containers to be moved to sunny spots throughout the day.
When planting cucumbers, you have several options:
- Plant seedlings: You can start cucumber seeds indoors and transplant the seedlings outside once the weather warms up. This will give your cucumbers a head start and increase your chances of a successful harvest.
- Plant cucumbers directly in the ground: If you’re planting cucumbers directly in the ground, prepare the soil by adding compost or other organic matter. Cucumbers prefer well-draining soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.
- Plant pickling cucumbers: Pickling cucumbers are an excellent option for growing in containers or small spaces. They produce smaller cucumbers that are perfect for pickling or eating fresh.
- Plant lemon cucumbers: Lemon cucumbers are a unique variety of cucumber that produces small, round cucumbers with yellow skin. They’re an excellent option for growing in containers or small spaces.
- Plant bush varieties: Bush cucumbers are a compact variety of cucumbers that are perfect for growing in containers or small gardens. They don’t require as much space as traditional Vining cucumbers produce a high fruit yield.
- Plant cucumber transplants: If you don’t want to start cucumber seeds indoors, you can purchase cucumber transplants from your local nursery or garden center.
Regarding growing cucumbers, proper care is essential to ensure young plants have a healthy and fruitful harvest.
Watering and Feeding Cucumbers
Cucumbers need consistent moisture to thrive, but they dislike being waterlogged. Over-watering can lead to root rot and other issues, so it is vital to find the right balance.
A drip irrigation system can effectively deliver water to your cucumber plants without over-saturating the soil and to keep foliage dry.
A balanced fertilizer can feed cucumbers and help provide the nutrients they must grow strong and healthy.
What Happens if Cucumbers Don’t Get Enough Sun?
While cucumbers can grow in partial shade, they do best with at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. Without enough sun, cucumber plants may produce smaller fruit or no fruit.
Cucumber Pests and Diseases
Cucumber plants are susceptible to various pests and diseases, including cucumber beetles, squash bugs, powdery mildew, and bacterial wilt.
These problems can cause foliage to dry, leaves to become chopped, and infected plants to die off. Prevention is vital regarding pest and disease control.
Can Cucumbers Get Too Much Sun?
Cucumbers are sun-loving plants, but can they get too much sun? The answer is yes.
While cucumbers thrive in full sun, excessive exposure to intense sunlight can cause problems for these plants.
When cucumber plants receive too much full sun, they may experience wilting, leaf dropping, leaf scorching, premature ripening, and, in extreme cases, stunted growth. Greenhouse cucumbers can get way too much full sun, so shade nets are advised during hot periods of full sun.
The intense sunlight can also cause the fruit to become bitter-tasting fruit and misshapen.
Providing cucumber plants with the right amount of sunlight and shade is essential to prevent these issues.
Cucumber plants typically require 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. However, if that intense direct sunlight is not possible, they can still grow in partial or full shade.
If you live in an area with hot summers, protecting your cucumber plants from excessive heat and sun exposure is especially important. You can do this by providing them with shade cloth or planting them in an area with afternoon shade. (Read Sunburned Succulent – What To Do)
Regarding harvesting fresh cucumbers, though, timing is everything. Here are some tips to help you harvest your cucumbers like a pro.
First, you should know that there are many varieties of cucumbers, each with its unique characteristics.
Some common cucumber varieties include sweet slice, tasty green, and lemon cucumbers.
Ensure you know what type of cucumber plant you must harvest correctly. An example is to harvest lemon cucumbers as they turn yellow and let no lemon cucumber get too large as they taste bitter.
The Armenian cucumber will be pale and curled in comparison.
Cucumber plants grow quickly; you’ll see small cucumber-shaped swellings on the vines within a few weeks of planting.
You can harvest cucumbers once you see the small cucumber-shaped swelling appropriate for the variety. For example, pickling cucumbers should be harvested when they are about 2 inches long, while burpless cucumbers can be up to 10 inches long.
Grasp the fruit and gently twist it off the vine to harvest cucumbers. Be careful not to damage the plant or any other fruit that may be nearby. If the fruit production of the cucumber is challenging to remove, use scissors to cut the stem.
It’s important to note that cucumbers taste bitter if left on the vine for too long. So, ensure you harvest them regularly to keep them fresh, eating the plant, and produce new fruit.
If you pick cucumbers and notice any yellowing or wrinkling on them, it’s a sign it’s overripe and past its prime.
If you see baby cucumber varieties fall, this means the female flowers haven’t been pollinated. You can quickly pollinate female flowers using a paintbrush and gather pollen from the male.