To grow cucumbers in containers, choose bush variety cucumbers that have smaller foliage. Plant your cucumber seeds in seedling pots, just like any other vegetable plant. Transfer young plants to larger pots. Finally, water your cucumber plants and keep them in the warm sun for healthy plants that yield tasty cukes.
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Cucumbers are Well-Suited for Container Gardening
Mature cucumber plants grow large, so you might be thinking that it’s impossible to grow them in small spaces like apartments, decks, patios, and rooftops. In reality, cucumbers are easy to grow, even in small spaces.
The National Gardening Association notes that cucumbers are well-suited to container gardening because it’s easier to keep the soil the cozy warm temperature that cucumbers love. Growing your cukes in containers gives you more control over harmful pests and disease. If the weather turns chilly, it’s easy enough to move the container to a warmer spot.
Cucumber Varieties for Container Gardening
Gardening Know How explains that most varieties of cucumbers need a male and female flower and insects to pollinate them. Some cucumber plants are parthenocarpic, which means they can bear fruit without pollination. You can find cucumber varieties that are self-pollinating and open-pollinating that do well for container planting.
Choose Bush Variety Cucumbers for Container Planting
Here are some of the varieties of cucumbers that flourish in containers:
- Bush Champion-Short plant that produces bright green cukes about 9-11 inches long.
- Bush Crop-Bushy plant that grows to about 3 feet. Cukes are medium green and about 6-8 inches long. They are perfect for slicing and salads.
- Bush Whopper-Mound-shaped plants that produce 8-12 inch cukes.
- Fanfare-Small bush that matures early in the season and produces slender cukes about 8-9 inches long.
- Pot Luck-Strong plants with short vines that produce medium or dark green cukes 6-7 inches long.
- Salad Bush-Plant grows to about 2 feet high and produces a tasty, slicing cucumber.
- Spacemaster-Plant is short-vined and compact at about 2 feet wide and 2 feet tall. It produces dark green cucumbers about 7-8 inches long.
All of these varieties will produce cucumbers that will be ready for picking from 55-80 days after planting.
Tips for Planting Cucumbers in Containers
This video by Burpee Gardens gives some great tips about successful planting of cucumbers in containers. The main things to pay attention to are the size of container, temperature of the soil, composition of the soil, amount of sunlight, and amount of water.
Start cucumber seedlings in any small seedling container that you can get from your local garden or home improvement store. Alternatively, you can use egg cartons, yogurt containers, or any other small cardboard or plastic container.
Use soil that is pre-mixed for vegetable planting. Don’t take a short cut by using leftover top soil, gardening soil, or landscape soil because it may have bacteria or weed seedlings in it. Pre-mixed vegetable soil has the right composition of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for vegetables to get off to a good start.
Keep seedlings moist, but don’t over water. Overwatering will cause the roots of the tender plants to rot. Young plants need plenty of direct sunlight.
When your cucumber plants grow to about 3 inches, transplant them into larger flowering pots. Plant young cucumber plants into pots with an opening of at least 12 inches in diameter, so that the roots have sufficient room to grow. Use soil that is formulated for vegetables, just like the soil for the seedlings.
Make sure the pot has drainage and put a few small rocks in the bottom of the pot to prevent the drainage hole from getting clogged.
Once your plants are established, water them with about 1-2 inches of water every week, unless they seem dry in between regular waterings. Keep containers in a sunny spot, moving them around throughout the day to keep them in the sun, if necessary.
Add a synthetic or organic food supplement every 10-14 days to keep plants healthy.
Support Cucumber Plants in Containers with a Trellis
Cucumber plants grow fast and aggressively. Even small plants can fill up small spaces. It helps to add a trellis for smaller and larger plants so that they will grow vertically.
Your gardening store will have ladder trellises or basket trellises. This video by The Urban Patio Gardener shows you how to use bamboo sticks to make an inexpensive, homemade trellis that guides your cucumber plants vertically up to 6 feet.
Once your plants begin growing, check them every few days and wrap the vines around the trellis. Once the vines find the trellis, they’ll be grab onto it and the new vines will find it on their own.
Maintaining Appropriate Temperatures for Cucumbers in Containers
Cucumbers love the sun and need 6-8 hours of sun daily. If you keep the soil at 68-75° Fahrenheit, conditions will be excellent for growth.
Steve Albert, author of The Kitchen Garden Growers’ Guide: A practical vegetable and herb garden encyclopedia, suggests waiting until soil and air temperatures average 70° before planting cucumbers.
It’s important to know that frost, even a little frost, will kill cucumber plants. It’s best to plant them at least two weeks after you suspect frost is gone for the winter. If you keep your plants outside and frost threatens during the night or in the early morning, bring them inside for protection.
As much as cucumber plants enjoy heat, too much heat can be a bad thing. This is especially important to keep in mind if you live in a hot climate.
There are a few things that you can do to control excessive heat. Use wooden or plastic pots for cucumber plants. Terra cotta and clay pots hold heat in better, which is great for colder climates, but can be destructive in hot climates.
If you store your containers on a concrete sidewalk or patio, the heat radiates from the concrete and dries out the soil. Set your plants on a wooden pallet, ceramic pedestal, or other surface so that they are up a few inches off the ground.