Notes on Growing Cucumbers Indoors

Last update: May 4, 2021

Although they require a fair amount of work and planning, you can grow cucumbers inside your home. You’ll need to pick a variety designed for indoor cultivation and make sure you have the right equipment, from the right soil mix to a good source of light. If you can easily control the temperatures in your home or greenhouse, you can expect to get a decent yield from the cucumber plants you grow.

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Choosing the Right Variety for Growing Indoors

You might be familiar with bush varieties and vining varieties of cucumber plants and with slicing compared to pickling cucumbers. When you’re growing cukes indoors, you want to look beyond bush vs. vining or slicing vs. pickling.

Since bees and other pollinators don’t live in your home or greenhouse, your best bet is to find cucumber varieties that produce fruits without pollination. Usually, these are European varieties, according to Aggie Horticulture.

Greenhouse or indoor varieties of cucumber plants produce all female flowers. The flowers are able to self-pollinate and the plants usually produce a good number of cukes, without help from bees.

If you’re unsure which type of cucumber to plant in your indoor garden, here a few to keep an eye out for:

  • Socrates
  • Tyria
  • Corinto
  • Unistars

If you can’t find those varieties, look for the words “gynoecious,” which means they only produce female flowers, and “parthenocarpic,” which means the fruit is seedless, on the seed packet label.

Although self-pollinating gynoecious plants are preferable for growing inside, you can try to grow standard, seeded cucumbers indoors. You’ll have to pollinate the flowers yourself if you do that.

This video from horticultural designer Angela Price walks you through the process of pollinating indoor cucumber plants. All you need is a small paintbrush, a gentle touch and some patience to help your plants produce healthy, tasty cucumbers.

What Your Cucumber Needs to Thrive Indoors

Indoor cucumbers usually require a bit more attention that cucumbers in an outdoor garden. Along with having enough space to grow the plants, you’ll need to purchase the right equipment or find some way to satisfy your plants’ needs.

Lots of Light

Cucumbers produce best when they get between eight and 10 hours of sunlight per day. They need even more sun when just getting established.

The plants will still produce fruit with just six or seven hours of sun per day, but the yield will be reduced, according to Rutgers’ If Plants Could Talk.

To give your cucumbers plenty of sunlight indoors, you’ll either need a greenhouse that lets the sun shine in or supplemental lighting. Even if you have a glass walled greenhouse, your cucumbers might need supplemental lighting in the winter, when there’s less daylight.

Choose fluorescent grow lights that contain the full spectrum of colors to help your cucumbers thrive. Place the lights about a foot above your cucumbers, so that they get an adequate amount of light, and keep the lights going for about 12 hours a day.

The Right Type of Soil

Don’t use garden soil when growing cucumbers indoors. It’s not meant to work in containers and will form a dense clump around the plant’s roots. Garden soil might also have bacteria or viruses in it that can make your plants sick.

Instead, use a special container mix that has good drainage and a fair amount of fertilizer in it. You can use a conventional mix or choose an organic variety, if that is important to you. Ingredients to look for in your container mix include perlite, coconut husk or peat.

Adequate Water

Cucumbers are 97% water. In fact, they have the highest water content of any solid food, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Unless you want dried-out, bitter husks, you need to make sure your plants get enough water when growing.

Usually, cucumbers need about an inch of water per week to produce a good amount of fruit. You can set up a drip irrigation system to keep the plants consistently watered or you can commit to watering them by hand frequently.

It’s better to water deeply less often than to give your cucumber plants little sips of water more frequently, according to Burpee Plants. Every so often, mix a bit of fertilizer in when watering, so that your plants get adequate nutrition too. It’s especially important to fertilize the plants once they start producing flowers and fruit.

A Trellis

Even if you grow a bush variety of cucumber indoors, training it to grow vertically will save you space. A trellis will keep your cucumber plant from invading your home.

One way to set up a trellis indoors is to screw a hook into the ceiling, then thread a piece of nylon rope or string through the hook. Stretch the string down to the soil in the plant pot and secure in place with a stake. Train the cucumber plant to grab the string as it grows.

Challenges When Growing Cucumbers Indoors

Although it’s possible to grow cucumbers inside your home or to set up a greenhouse to grow them, there are several challenges that come with it.

One is the increased cost of growing the plants. If you’re running several full-spectrum grow lights for 12 hours a day, every day, you’re going to see a bump in your electric bills.

Another challenge is maintaining the right temperature for the plants. According to the University of Alaska, cucumbers do best when the soil is between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and not lower than 65 degrees at night.

Ideal daytime air temperatures are between 75 and 80 degrees, which can be difficult to achieve indoors in the winter or fall, unless you keep your heat cranked up.

If you really love cucumbers, the extra challenges involved with growing them indoors can be worth it. You’ll have home grown cucumbers all year round, even if you live in an area with cold winters or don’t have much outdoor space.

Photo by krzys16 licensed under CC0.

Top Tips for the Best Fertilizer for Cucumbers

Last update: May 4, 2021

If you’re new to the world of gardening, you may find yourself operating under the guise of assuming all fertilizers are created equal in terms of how they treat plants. This is not the case if you’re growing cucumbers, which need a little extra love for them to grow properly. As such, it’s important that you not only look for a quality fertilizer, but one that will help nurture cucumbers as best as possible.

Our Picks for Best Fertilizer for Cucumbers

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The Importance of fertilizer for cucumbers

Like with most plants, using a good fertilizer can yield bigger cucumbers. It can also increase the total output of the plant. It does this by delivering all the good stuff your cucumber needs (stuff like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, among others.) in easy-to-use forms.

While fertilizer is generally a good idea, it’s important to remember that, sometimes, the soils you can buy will already come with fertilizer mixed in, especially if you’re using a starting mix, so be sure to check.

If your soil does contain fertilizer, you can still add some of your own — we usually just recommend doing it at half strength and gauging the results.

A Look at Cucumber’s Many Benefits

There are all kinds of reasons why growing cucumbers can be a terrific option. This video does a good job of hitting the highlights of the veggie’s numerous benefits. As you’ll see, growing the cucumbers may be fun, but it can also be serious business given what they have to offer.

Prepping Before the Fertilizer

Now that you’ve seen the benefits of cucumber growing, you may be tempted to dive into the process and grab a big bag of fertilizer. Before you do that, though, there are a few things you should know about growing your cucumbers, including a few steps that must be taken before the fertilizer is provided.

First off, cucumber vines need to be planted in soil equipped with good drainage to avoid water oversaturation, which could damage the veggies. They should also be trellised to ensure that hindrances to growth like fungal diseases are kept to a minimum. If you’re planting the crop in a container, it’s also wise to procure the largest container possible.

Types of Cucumber Fertilizer on the Market

When the time comes to purchase fertilizer, a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer will provide your veggies what they need to get proper nutrients. However, there is a wealth of advanced fertilizer types you can look at to help coax your cucumbers along.

Perhaps the most famous of these higher-level fertilizers are granular fertilizers. The basic style of this fertilizer type breaks down over time before their nutrients are released to allow a more even distribution. There are also more high-tech versions of this style that contain slow- or controlled-release properties that provide even more predictable results.

You can also obtain granular fertilizers that are made from organic sources, like manure, cottonseed meal, blood meal, or feather meal. Additionally, some of the fertilizers that you can get are technically natural yet not organic. Some of these include nutrients like calcium, potassium, and iron.

You may also want to be on the lookout for fertilizers that are liquid or water-soluble. These fertilizer types tend to be faster-acting than typical organic products, which may be alluring if you want faster results. On the other hand, these products tend to be a bit messy compared to the solid stuff.

a great guide…

Here’s a really solid video tutorial on fertilizing cucumbers by Gary PIlarchik.

Other Things to Consider

If you plant your cucumbers in well-drained soil enhanced by fertilizer, you’re not quite on the pathway to growing perfect cucumbers every time. There are a few more metrics you must consider if you’re gunning for results to make you happy.

For instance, where you plant your crop is essential. Ideally, you’ll want to make sure the spot you choose receives a full amount of sunlight, and that each cucumber vine is spaced 6 to 10 inches apart from each other. The former will promote good growth, while the latter will minimize vine entanglement.

When you plant the cucumber seeds in the fertilizer-rich soil, you’ll want to make sure they’re at a depth of about 2 inches, and then you’ll want to work into the soil 6 to 8 inches deep. You may want to consider covering the seeds with netting until they start to grow to ensure pests don’t dig them out and eat them.

And while it almost goes without saying that you should water your cucumbers, it’s important that you remain consistent with the process. If you don’t, your cucumbers may develop a bitter taste to them.

Harvest Time

You can expect to reap the rewards of your hard labor when the cucumbers reach about 6 to 8 inches long. If you’re harvesting dills, the length will be 4 to 6 inches. If you’re trying your hand at pickles, you can pluck them when they grow to 2 inches in length.

Our Recommendation: Gardener’s Energy Buttons

Working with fertilizer shouldn’t have to be a chore. And while it may be a bit funny to think of fertilizer as being technologically advanced, the fact is that the substance has evolved to make its usage less time-consuming and more intuitive.

We like the Gardner’s Energy Buttons for this very reason. Its slow-release pellets of aged manure do a lot of the timing work that you would have to worry about back in the day. If you’re not familiar with the intricacies of mixing fertilizer and whatnot, this can make your job a whole lot easier.

This doesn’t take you completely off the hook, of course – there is still plenty of things you need to do to your cucumber plant to ensure a proper, satisfying harvest. However, using a technically advanced fertilizer such as this one can go a long way in helping you meet that goal. And that alone should make exploring the world of fertilizer worthwhile.

Photo by Gerwin Sturm licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Our Picks for the Best Trellis for Cucumbers

Last update: May 4, 2021

Making sure your cucumber vines aren’t spread across the ground can usually spell the difference between having a little or a lot of cucumbers. A sturdy trellis will help keep your cucumbers elevated, where the scourge of diseases and fruit rot are lessened. Yet even though the concept of a trellis is pretty basic, there are still plenty of choices out there, all clamoring for your attention. So, which one is right for you?

Top 4 Trellises for Cucumbers

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#4 Scroll Trellis’ Expanding Stack Trellis
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The Basics Behind a Cucumber Trellis

A cucumber trellis may initially catch your eye because it allows you to grow your cucumbers vertically. This is a pretty solid reason to consider one since it saves space, which may be at a premium depending on the size of your garden. Yet it’s far from the only reason you’ll want to dig into the concept.

The Benefits of a Cucumber Trellis

Perhaps the biggest perk of growing your cucumbers vertically is that they’re easier to water at the base. You won’t have to root around the garden base and dig through unruly leaves and vines to find the perfect watering spot. Moreover, this method will help you stem the onslaught of fungal diseases.

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A vertical trellis also makes cucumbers easier to harvest. This doesn’t just mean the veggies are easier to spot since they’re not intermixed with the dirt and leaves on the ground. It’s a big deal because it makes it easier to maneuver around the prickly stems that can otherwise scratch up your hands and arms.

A proper trellis will also do wonders to protect the overall integrity of the cucumber. Because your veggie’s contact with the dirt is minimized, your yield will be cleaner, straighter, and more uniform in color compared to cucumbers that are grown on the ground.

How to Use a Trellis

Working with a trellis is a little more complex than sticking it next to your veggies and hoping they get the hint. There is quite a bit of prep work you need to do before and during the growing process to achieve your desired results.

The first essential step happens even before you sink your trellis into the dirt. Cucumbers need to be seeded in warm, fertile soil 36 to 60 inches apart. You’ll want to work compost or composted manure into soil if possible.

Training your cucumbers to climb the trellis is also an essential step. To do so, you’ll need to guide them to wrap around the support. Typically, the vines will cling to the support and continue to grow upward once this has occurred.

If for some reason this doesn’t happen independently, you can always gently tie the vines to the trellis with soft cloth strips. If you do go this route, just make sure that you tie the strips loosely around the vine, giving them at least an inch worth of space in a loop for the stems to grow.

Here’s a great video on pruning and growing cucumbers on a trellis by Lean Organic Gardening:​

Can I Make My Own Trellis?

A typical trellis design is going to look a bit rudimentary, to the point where you may think that it can turn into a DIY project. Indeed, there are plenty of creative ideas out there that make it an attractive option. However, looks can be deceiving.

The trick to making a good trellis yourself is making one that is sturdy enough to support the growth of the cucumber as it climbs upward. If the weight of the veggies or the path of the vines causes the trellis to lose its structural integrity, then you’ll be left with more than a failed DIY project. You’ll have cucumbers that won’t be grown to your specifications.

As such, unless you’re really confident in your building skills, it’s wise to leave the trellising up to the pros. While it may cost a little more, the long-term gain of consistently grown veggies is worth the additional price tag.

How Working with a Trellis May Look Like

If you haven’t worked with a trellis before, you can take comfort in knowing that they’re not all that difficult to work with. This video does a good job of guiding you through the process of using a trellis to grow you cucumbers from beginning to end. While it does require you to get a little dirty, that’s hardly a surprise all things considered.

Our Recommendation: Gardener’s Wire A-Frame Trellis

The Gardener’s Wire A-Frame Trellis is a solid product to purchase because it reinforces a lot of the essential elements that you should be looking for when you purchase a trellis for cucumbers. While the trellis touts certain metrics that align itself with convenience, the heavy-duty construction is its main allure.

Remember, cucumbers aren’t light – at least, full-grown ones aren’t. As such, the basic laws of physics dictate that their weight will exert a certain level of force on whatever trellis you purchase. A proper trellis like the Gardener’s Wire A-Frame Trellis provides the sturdy reinforcement needed to withstand the pull and tug of cucumbers as they grow.

A sturdy trellis that can withstand growth is also very important if you plan on growing cucumbers over in the long-term. The new harvest will grow differently than the old one, which will then exert their force of growth in different manners. A heavy-duty trellis will be able to adapt to newer growth patterns without a hiccup.

Another positive that this trellis offers is its ability to fold and store easily. This may be important if you live in a colder climate and would prefer to put your gardening elements away during the off-season. This isn’t a bad idea, of course, since it will add to the longevity of the equipment.

Whatever product you end up purchasing, keep in mind that each product operates under the premise of not only making your life as a gardener easier, but also to make the veggies you’re growing better. At the end of the day, you can’t ask for a better combination than that.

Photo by Tomwsulcer licensed under CC BY 3.0.

Picking the Best Fertilizer for Tomatoes

Last update: May 4, 2021

We reckon the best fertilizer for tomatoes is Miracle-Gro Tomato Plant Food, which you can buy online (clicking that link will take you to Amazon, where you can see user reviews, current prices, etc.). It’s likely one of the simplest fertilizers to use, and you only have to use it every one or two weeks. This is a water-soluble fertilizer. We also find the quality to be pretty high. Our runner-up is probably Espoma Tomato-tone Organic Fertilizer.

Our Picks for Best Fertilizer for Tomatoes

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#3 Jobe’s Organic Vegetable & Tomato Granular Fertilizer
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#4 Jobe’s Organic Vegetable Fertilizer Food Spikes
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Why Consider Fertilizer for Tomatoes?

When it comes to sucking down nutrients, tomatoes are voracious eaters. This is not because they’re greedy or anything. Their appetite is simply indicative of their nature as being highly productive plants. Fertilizer works so well in tomato plants because it makes it much easier for their appetites to be satiated.

best fertilizer for tomatoes

Of course, this can be a blessing and a curse. Sometimes, a tomato plant will happily devour a second helping of fertilizer later in the year if their growing season is extended. While this requires a little extra green in your thumb, the sweet, delicious results that are produced makes it worth the extra effort.

How Much Fertilizer is Needed? A Video…

Because of the somewhat complex needs of a tomato plant, it can be a bit difficult for the novice gardeners to put together a proper rhythm to the fruit’s fertilization schedule. However, this video can provide you with a handy guide to the amount of fertilization your tomatoes may need throughout the growing season.

Common Fertilization Techniques

When it comes to adding fertilizer to tomatoes, the most prominent technique to use is called side-dressing. This technique is simply built upon the practice of placing fertilizer around the tomatoes to give them extra sustenance throughout the season. The goal here is to ensure the plants’ insatiable appetite, thus leading to more consistent fruit.

Usually, you can get away with one or two side-dressings in your tomato gardens. While the practice is not extremely labor intensive, you will still need to apply a touch of gardening knowhow to reap the desired results.

For instance, side dressing requires digging into the soil around the plant. It is a delicate process, as digging too deep will disrupt the roots, which could spell doom and gloom for your tomatoes.

Composting is another effective fertilizer-fueled method that can be utilized in your tomato garden. Adding elements like bone or blood meal to the fertilizer will serve to increase the fertilizer’s concentration. The one downside to this method is that it requires extra steps, such as mixing.

If that seems a little too arduous, you can always resort to deploying the top-dressing method of fertilization. This method contains the same basic principles of side-dressing, except that you simply put the fertilizer on top of the soil instead of digging into the area surrounding the plant.

Using water-soluble fertilizers may also be a terrific option to deploy, especially if you’re a beginner. While this technically requires a little more work, it’s easy work, as the labor consists of adding a periodic scoop of fertilizer to the water prior to spraying. As long as you keep track of when you’re adding the scoop, you’re good to go.

Know Your Numbers

Perhaps the most important thing to look at when considering a fertilizer is the nutrients you’re giving the plants through its usage. Fertilizers will typically have the nutrient content clearly labeled on their packages, represented in a series of dashed numbers such as 10-10-10.

These numbers will represent three major plant nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. You can use them to gauge your tomato garden’s overall health. This is especially the case if you already have a bead on the nutrient content of the soil.

If you don’t have the time or the wherewithal to explore your soil’s nutrient content, you’ll want to pay special attention to the nitrogen content listed on the package. Specifically, it may be wise for you to stay away from high-nitrogen fertilizers.

The reason for this is because nitrogen tends to be the most abundant nutrient in a soil’s composition. If you add an overabundance of nitrogen to your plant, you will end up over-fertilizing them. This issue is marked by plants that produce dark green leaves but precious few tomatoes.

Don’t Be Afraid of Failure!

If you’re new to the whole gardening business, your successes will be counterbalanced with a few failures. It’s just like anything that you try to tackle in life. You will have a few hiccups on the way to finding a consistent rhythm.

When you use fertilizer on your tomato plants for the first time, don’t abandon all hope if your initial crop doesn’t come close to yielding the mind-blowing results that exist in your mind’s garden. Instead, use the experience culled from failed gardening attempts to learn and grow. Doing so will help you eventually match your dreams with your reality.

You May Also Read – Best Fertilizer for Carrots

Our Recommendation: Miracle-Gro Tomato Plant Food

A water-soluble fertilizer solution may be the best way to go about things while you’re developing a green thumb. A product like Miracle-Gro Tomato Plant Food simplifies the process of fertilizer use by simply requiring an infusion of its product during watering every 7 to 14 days.

Once you get the hang of deploying the water-soluble fertilizer and you see the results of its usage, it may be easier for you to graduate to an elevated level of fertilizer use, such as composting or side-dressing. Then again, you may be so comfortable in using this water-soluble method, you may not feel the need to change.

Regardless of what method of fertilizer deployment you use, the important thing to bear in mind is that you’re using fertilizer. When used properly, it can serve as the ultimate tool in your garden arsenal, one that can help you grown big, bountiful tomatoes that burst with flavor. And isn’t that the whole reason why you started growing them in the first place?

Do you grow cucumbers as well? Then you might find helpful our article about the best fertilizer for cucumbers.

Photo by enaoniro licensed under CC0.

How to Combat Cucumber Diseases

Last update: May 4, 2021

Cucumbers are susceptible to different diseases: mostly fungal and viral infections. A few of the most common cucumber diseases include powdery mildew, bacterial wilt, cucumber beetles, cucumber mosaic, and downy mildew.

Fortunately, lots of these diseases can be treated. Take a peek at the article below to learn how to keep your cucumbers happy, healthy and tasty.

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What Are Some Common Cucumber Diseases?

1. Powdery Mildew

It is one of the most common diseases in cucumbers. Powdery mildew shows signs of white powdery substance encompassing the whole leaves of the plant. Usually, it begins in little spots then scatters throughout the leaves.

This fungal disease may cause poor growth of the fruits specifically if the infection is severe. The leaves of the cucumber begin to wither and then fall off prematurely. Overhead watering and poor air circulation can contribute to such problem.

At the first sign of the disease, the use of fungicidal sprays can help. In order to avoid wetting leaves, use underground or surface watering method.

To keep the infection at bay, plant cucumbers in full sun. If your plants are already infected with powdery mildew, spraying with neem oil can prevent the disease from spreading. Just remember not to spray in the heat of the day.

Here’s a great video explaining how to treat powdery mildew.​

2. Bacterial Wilt

Bacterial wilt can cause the plants to wilt and then die fast. You will know if the disease is present in the plant when a white substance will stick to your finger the moment you pull it away.

The bacteria that are causing the disease invade the plant’s vascular tissues, which leads to a rapid wilt of the plant. The sticky substance produced by the bacterial wilt organism plugs the tissues, preventing the transport of water.

As the disease progresses, it begins with a single leaf then the entire plant. In order to control the infection, destroy any affected plants. It is also best to implement the right insecticide program to control bacterial wilt and prevent it from occurring.

Here’s an awesome video explaining how to spot bacterial wilt.​

3. Cucumber Beetles

Cucumber beetles are known for their black and yellow stripes, while some of them are spotted. These insects chew small holes in the fruit’s flowers or leaves.

They usually carry wilt disease and love to suck on young seedlings. Aside from this, the larvae of these pesky insects feed on the roots. One thing you can do with cucumber beetles is pick them by hand. They move slow during the morning or evening.

To kill them, prepare a cup of soapy water and drop them. On the other hand, keep the bugs at bay by applying pesticides. Once the seedlings blossom, stop spraying for cucumber beetles to allow bees to start pollinating the plants.

Here’s what a striped cucumber beetle looks like:​

Cucumber beetle damage

4. Cucumber Mosaic

This type of cucumber disease affects the flower, leaf, stem and growth of the plant. When the infection strikes, it may lead to the formation of prominent foliar yellow mosaic, severe plant stunting, malformation, reduction of leaf size, downward leaf curling and more.

The flowers may show signs of prominent abnormalities. This disease is very common. The virus is transmitted from one plant to another by various kinds of aphids.

Good thing, mosaic disease can be managed by controlling the presence of cucumber beetles and aphids throughout the season. It is best to use good quality seed all the time. Control perennial weeds to prevent the disease from occurring. On the other hand, you may also use insecticides and mineral oils.

Here’s a great paper on Cucumber Mosaic Virus from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.​


cucumber mosaic

5. Downy Mildew

A cucumber plant has downy mildew when it shows signs of angular yellow spots on its leaves. This fungal disease can be treated and prevented in different ways.

If your plant is already infected with the disease, pull it to prevent the infection from spreading. Use good cultural practices to avoid the infection from occurring and use fungicides to stop the disease.

Check out this video from the Rustic Garden to learn more about spotting and treating downy mildew.​

Are Deformed Or Misshapen Cucumbers Infected With A Disease?

Some people think that misshapen or deformed cucumbers are diseased. However, when a cucumber is funny shaped, it does not mean it is infected with a disease. There are possible reasons deformed cucumbers occur.

One possible reason is poor pollination. If there is low insect activity in your garden, it may lead to misshapen cucumbers.

Plants need honeybees for pollination and this process should not be interrupted. Other reasons for funny shaped fruits are high temperature, insufficient water and too much fertilizer.

Here’s an awesome video from Man Living Naturally if you’re really having trouble with deformed cucumbers:​

Why Do Cucumbers Turn White?

Nowadays, there are cucumber seeds that are bred to produce white fruit. However, if you have planted green cucumber varieties but you get white cucumbers, one possible reason is powdery mildew.

When it spreads, the whole fruit may be covered with the mold. However, when a cucumber appears white it does not necessarily mean it is infected with a disease.

There are another two possible reasons cucumbers turn white. The first one is blanching, which occurs when the fruit is entirely covered by leaves.

Keep in mind that cucumbers are in need of sunlight to develop and be able to maintain its green color. To prevent blanching, make sure to position the fruit appropriately so that it receives the right amount of sunlight it needs.

It is advisable to snip out a large leaf or two to expose the fruit. On the other hand, excessive moisture may also cause cucumbers to turn pale or white. Water tends to leach nutrients from the soil.

The absence or lack of nutrients changes the color of the fruit into white. To address the problem, water only when necessary and use a fertilizer rich in phosphorus. It is best to keep in mind that diseased white cucumbers are not safe to eat. However, those cucumbers that turned pale or white due to blanching or too much moisture can be eaten.

There are different varieties of cucumber. Most cucumbers diseases are fungal infections. The good news is, you can avoid these problems by selecting and planting cucumber varieties that are disease-resistant. On the other hand, you need to act fast and find a solution at the first sign of infection. When using insecticide, always wear protective clothing and gloves.

Photo Credits

Photo by Scott Nelson licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Photo by Rob Mitchell licensed under GNU 1.3..

Photo by Scot Nelson licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Pruning Cucumbers: When and How

Last update: May 4, 2021

Pruning is the process of removing laterally growing shoots from the main vine of the cucumber. It can keep your plants healthy and looking good, and it can help avoid overgrowth as well as facilitate vertical growth if you’re using a trellis. You need a few good tools to do the job (we list these below), but once you have those, pruning is really pretty easy. Let’s dive in.

grow your own cucumbers

#1 Cucumber seeds
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#2 A good starting soil
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Quick video if you’re in a hurry…

Here’s a great video from Get Up & Grow for those of you who prefer a more visual tutorial.

Pruning Prep

You should start tending your cucumbers early enough after transplanting the seedlings to make sure that only healthy cucumber plants reach to the bearing level.

Cucumbers have very tender vines, and they should be handled with care to avoid breaking them. It should be noted that pruning should be done routinely to achieve best results. With pruning, you will have disease free plants that will attain maturity early enough and have a long production life.

Pruning aims at reducing the number of laterally spreading shoots, damaged vines, and achieving well-aerated cucumber plants. It also leads to high and quality cucumber fruits.

Why should you prune cucumbers?

Pruning is a technique that improves not only production but also enables your cucumber plants to give better quality fruits. It is a routine management practice that helps you keep check of wild growth.

The cucumber vines produce multiple shoots from a single stem. By pruning, it enables maintaining healthy plants. Also, trimming damaged or excess shoots helps provide sufficient nutrition which in turn allows vigorous fruit production.

Trimming minimizes shading and allows maximum sunlight penetration which increases photosynthesis thereby improving production. Moreover, it eliminates the likelihood of having some pests harbored within the poorly aerated bushes which might exacerbate disease occurrence.

Cucumbers are highly susceptible to diseases, a concern which calls for proper monitoring of the plants. You can easily track the progress of your fruits by keeping fresh foliage out of way further helping you control diseases. You should, however, avoid extensive pruning which would potentially reduce yields. Lastly, moderate pruning enables easy picking of fruits.

Plus, as Jason Ellis points out, pruning can increase your crop yield:​

When is the best time to prune cucumbers?

Once the cucumber plant has grown a few feet above the ground, and it starts flowering, it’s about the right time you start pruning.

It might sound a little bit off, but it is advisable to start pruning early and removing the first flowers with the vision of better yields in the long-term. All you should be keen at is letting the vine produce seven leaves then you can start production.

Pruning should be done early so that the cucumbers will be able to support fruits later on. It is also prudent to keenly check on new shoots and get each of them off early enough. Pinching all the fuzzy growing tips will allow for the lateral spreading of plants.

For cucumbers that grow within cages, those tips growing beyond 4-feet should also be cut off. Well pruned cucumber plants are healthy, and they develop proper root systems which can sustain the weight of fruits.


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What tools do you need to prune cucumbers?

There are some tools that you can use for pruning though you are not entirely limited to the ones available. You can also use your hands. You can pinch young shots quickly with your hands which further simplifies pruning since they are fresh and soft. They are also effective since you can take care of the main vine to avoid stretching it which can be damaging. Tools that you can apply in this process include:

  • Pruning shears. They can be to nib shoots especially the ones on the main vine and those of sub vines protruding from the main vine.
  • Secateurs. Secateurs can be used to prune damaged vines. There is a broad range of secateurs to choose from. They come with different blades, sizes, and orientation to suit either left or right-handed gardeners.
  • Loppers. They are used where secateurs cannot be applied where there are thick stems. Mini and lightweight models are used in cucumber pruning.
  • Garden scissors. They are primarily used to cut flowers that come from an early age and thin vines and shoots efficiently.
  • Long reach pruners. They are used to cut off shoots or vines that are difficult to access especially for cucumber plants growing over cages. They have long arms that suit their application.

How do you properly prune a cucumber?

  • First, locate the main vine of the cucumber. The main vine is the one that has not branched out. You should go to the base of the plant and follow it up.
  1. Spot all laterally growing shoots and remove them. These shoots if left, form runners which significantly reduce production.
  • You should eliminate 4-6 shoots growing from the base of the main vine up. All other shoots growing beyond should be left to grow.
  • You should then repeat the process for all plants while tying the vines to the support structures or trellis. It is important to avoid bending vines too much or tightening the vines to avoid breaking or crushing blossoms which may make the vines wilt and eventually die.
  • Remove all damaged and unhealthy cucumbers</strong > that would be appearing undersized as they would be diseased. Mature fruits should be harvested timely to avoid poor quality cucumbers of big sizes.

If you follow through every of the practices as mentioned above and implement them in your farm while combining them with other practices, such as proper application of fertilizers and use of pesticides, weeding, and others, you’ll be sure to reap rewards.

Using pruning to grow vertically.

Here’s an awesome tutorial from GrowingYourGreens that shows you how to use pruning to help your cucumbers grow on a trellis.

Is pruning ever a bad idea?

It is not advisable to start pruning cucumbers when they are too young. It might weaken vines while some may end up getting damaged. Also, it is not wise to prune immediately after spraying pesticides to avoid wastage.

After harvesting starts and there are many mature fruits, the level of pruning should go down. Similarly, pruning while is rainy, and there is high humidity is discouraged because it might encourage the spread of diseases between neighboring plants when vines come into contact.

Since lateral shoots grow very fast, you should cut of all new shoots for proper root development especially as vines get to the rapid development stage when the shoots are sprouting sporadically.

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