If you’re new to growing cucumbers (Cucumis sativus), you might be shocked to find that the cucumbers on your plants don’t look like the ones you see in the shop.
Cucumbers range in size and shape from long and thin to short and blocky, depending on the kind. So, it can be a surprise when you expect to be eating fresh cucumbers of a regular shape.
Slicer cucumbers, also known as long slender cucumbers, reach 8 inches and a diameter of 2 inches in the grocery shop. Pickling cucumbers grow small and blocky, ranging from 5 to 6 inches depending on the variety.
Pickling cucumbers are plump and crisp, and they can be eaten raw or pickled. Other cucumber types provide spherical cucumbers around the size of a baseball. Cucumber plants can produce undersized or fruits of a peculiar shape because of weather, bee population, or stress.
Pollinating insects handle the activity of plant pollination in the growing season, and lack of it can lead to fruits not being at the expected length and not being dark green as usual.
In our guide, you can learn why do cucumbers grow round without too much length? By the end, you’ll know more about why you get short, fat cucumbers that are funny shaped rather than the slender ones you are used to, and what you can do to help prevent short and fat cucumbers.
What Kind of Cucumbers Are Short and Fat?
Unless you know right from the start what cucumbers you are growing, there are a couple of types that are distinct shapes. (Read Cucumber Leaves Turning White – What To Do)
This tennis ball-sized cucumber has a peculiar shape; lemon cucumber is round and yellow and makes a great serve for one or two people.
Lemon cucumbers do not possess a lemon taste. Rather, they have thin, tender skin with a milder flavor than ordinary cucumbers. This is a cucumber that is commonly found in ethnic Indian markets.
A short and fat cucumber could be a pickling cucumber. Pickling cucumbers can be grown for raw eating, but they taste bitter, although you can put them in salads.
The type of cucumber plant you’re growing has a significant effect on the size and shape of the fruit.
Slicers cucumber fruits reach 8 inches and a diameter of 2 inches. They’re the long, slender cucumbers you’ll find at your neighborhood supermarket. But, as we’ve seen, there are even types that yield round cucumbers.
However, there are a few other reasons why cucumbers produce misshapen fruit.
Cucumber plants require a lot of water to thrive. And if they don’t get enough, the size of the cucumbers will be affected. You’ll see cucumbers beginning to wilt in the sunlight, which is the most evident sign of a lack of water and will lead to misshapen fruits.
- Water your plants at least twice a week.
- With your finger, feel the top inch of the earth. It’s time to water them again if they’re dry.
- Cucumbers require about 1-2 inches of water every week to thrive.
- Soak the region around the plant’s base with enough water to soak the top 8 inches of soil, which contains most roots.
Insufficient water is one of the significant reasons for malformed cucumbers. In addition, moisture stress from improper watering takes its toll throughout the growing season as a cucumber starts developing fruit.
Cucumber plants require a lot of food during the growing season. Cucumbers that lack crucial nutrients might become short and stubby; cucumbers who receive too much fertilizer can become misshapen. In addition, cucumbers require less nourishment as they grow older.
If you’re growing in rich soil, fertilizer may not be required first. Instead, a few weeks before planting, add compost and organic mulch to the soil to help it absorb the nutrients needed.
However, if your plants aren’t developing with a regular cucumber’s shape because of nutrient deficiency, give them a suitable fertilizer like you have yellowing leaves.
Cucumbers require phosphate, potassium, and nitrogen to reach their maximum potential. As a result, look for a fertilizer with NPK values of 5-5-10. You can also add some used coffee grounds to add more nitrogen. (Read Do Cucumbers Need To Be Refrigerated)
It’s also crucial to consider where you’ll be growing cucumber plants. Cucumber plants thrive in light, well-drained soil that receives lots of sunlight.
You can quickly end up with deformed cucumbers because of a lack of sunlight and temperatures below 50°F.
Besides this, hot temperatures above 95°F can be harmful and lead to deformed cucumbers. Fruit size, quality, and yield are all reduced by too high temperatures.
What Makes Cucumbers Grow Round Instead Of Long?
Pollination issues can arise from various sources, and if cucumber flowers aren’t completely pollinated, it might lead to disease.
Hot weather during blossoming can destroy pollen, resulting in poor pollination. In addition, the cucumber can become asymmetrical or stunted if the female bloom does not get enough viable pollen.
Poorly pollinated cucumbers swell at the stem end but cannot reach the desired length. Cucumbers with insufficient pollen the cucumber may deform when the blossom end may twist or curl, resulting in fat, weird-shaped cucumber fruits.
Bees are the principal pollinators of cucumbers; therefore, a shortage of them could cause problems with pollination. In addition, pollination may be intermittent without a sufficient bee population, resulting in deformed or stunted fruit output.
If the female flower does not get enough viable pollen, the cucumber may become asymmetrical, or the fruit may be stunted. Cucumbers that haven’t been pollinated well swell at the stem end but don’t grow fully.
Most cucumber plant types are self-pollinating, meaning they produce both male and female flower heads on the same plant.
Alternatively, you can hand-pollinate your cucumber plants to ensure effective pollination.
Similarly, why aren’t my cucumbers growing? You can use the small cucumber at the base of a female flower to identify it. These are not present in male blooms. If fruit does not form despite female flowers, it may be because of a lack of pollination.
When cucumbers get overripe, the chlorophyll-based green hue diminishes, resulting in a yellowish tint rather than the dark green you usually see, and your cucumber may develop lopsided.
Cucumbers get bitter as they grow, and you should not eat yellow cucumbers. In addition, a virus, too much water, or a nutrient imbalance can cause a yellow cucumber.
The cucumber plant may generate both male and female flowers since it is self-pollinating. Cucumbers can form once pollen from the male flower reaches the female flowers.
Male flowers are frequently the first to bloom on cucumber plants. Therefore, attract pollinators such as bees, moths, butterflies, and birds to transfer pollen from male flowers to female flowers. (Read What Makes Cucumbers Bitter)
The issue arises when pollen is not transferred from the male flower to the female bloom throughout the growing season because of improper pollination. Before the fruit can set, the blossoms will twist or die. Cucumbers will develop lopsided and plump, resulting in fat, nubby cucumbers. Poor pollination could cause a thick fruit near the stem but a tiny fruit near the tip.
Disease and Pests
Diseased plants cause reduced fruit production and misshapen or stunted fruit. For example, cucumber plants with the cucumber mosaic virus have limited development and malformed fruits.
Aster yellows, a virus-like disease, also cause malformed cucumber fruits. Both are spread by insects like aphids, leafhoppers, spider mites, and cucumber beetles and are challenging to treat once symptoms appear.
If there aren’t too many insects, hand-picking them from the plants and hosing them off the vines can help. Apply horticultural soap or neem oil to keep them away.
Fungal diseases like Anthracnose and Belly Rot, for example, thrive in warm, humid environments. Prevention is the best option because it’s tough to heal the plants once they’ve been infected.