What is the best way to grow cucumbers?

Last Updated on December 13, 2022 by Derek

Best way to plant and grow cucumbers at home
Cucumbers can grow in many soil-types but sandy loam soil is best.

As a general rule, the best way to grow cucumbers is to plant in loose loam soil, preferable sandy, but they will do well in most well-drained soils. Cucumbers benefit from a lot of sunlight, and their roots go deep, so grow them well away from other plants.

How to grow cucumbers – planting, care, harvesting and diseases.

Basic Information about growing cucumbers

Plant Name: Curcubitaceae
Plant Family: Curcubitaceae
Scientific Name: Cucumis sativus

Where do cucumbers originate from?

The cucumber is a native plant of India where it’s been cultivated for more than 3,000 years. Archeological evidence suggests that they may have been cultivated as early as 9750 B.C.

The first wild cucumbers may have been C. Hardwickii a small, very bitter native of the Himalayas. This bitterness, which can affect domestic cucumbers to a lesser extent, is caused by Cucurbitacins, a terpene derivative. Cucurbitacins repels insects.

Newer hybrids contain less of these compounds and tend to be less bitter.

A short history of the cucumber

The Egyptians savored cucumbers dipped in brine and drank “cucumber water” as a weak liquor. The vegetable was often taken on caravans as a source of water.

Romans served them raw or boiled with oil, vinegar and honey. The emperor, Tiberius ordered them as a daily part of his meals and his gardeners grew them out of season in hothouses.

Cucumbers arrived in England with Kathryn of Aragon, first wife of King Henry VIII, who demanded them on her Spanish salads.

Columbus brought cucumbers to the Americas and planted them in an experimental garden in 1493. They have flourished in American gardens for centuries since.

They have been cultivated world wide, in space as an experiment by Russian Cosmonauts, and in an Ontario nickle mine as a Canadian government sponsored project.

Video – Best method for growing cucumbers from seed at home

Best ways to grow cucumber plants guide

How to grow cucumber at home

Table 1 – Cucumber Planting Information

Seeding Rate Per Foot Space plants in rows: 12″ to 18″Spacing plants in hills: 36″ to 72″ between hills. Cut off weaker plants leaving only 2-3 to a hill.
Seeds Per Ounce 1100
Space Between Plants Hills: 36″
Planting Depth 1″
Plant Height Medium
Plant Types Pickling, Slicing, Mild Flavor, Compact Plant Slicers
Favorite Varieties

Pickling: Bush Pickle, Calypso Hybrid, Wisconsin SMR 18

Slicing: Sweet Slice Hybrid, Marketmore 76

Mild Flavor: Euro-American Hybrid, Sweet Success Hybrid, Jet Set Hybrid

Compact Plant Slicers: Pot Luck Hybrid, Bush Champion, Salad Bush Hybrid

Seed Viability (Years) 5 years
Seed Germination 68° – 86° F
Germination Time 13 days at 60° F
6 days at 68° F
4 days at 77° F
3 days at 86° F or higher

Cucumber Planting Instructions

Growing cucumbers from seed

ow to plant cucumber seeds
Plant cucumber seeds in rows

Rows: plants should be seeded 2″ to 8″ in rows that are 4′ to 5′ apart.

Hills: plant 5 to 8 seeds per hill. When plants push through, remove the weaker plants leaving 2 to 3 remaining per hill. Allow 3′ to 6′ between hills.

Beds: place hills in beds following spacing for hills above.

Containers: Place seeds as described above for rows or hills. Use bush-type cucumbers which require less room or grow plants on cages or on trellises.

Cucumber care and development

Table 2 – How to care for cucumber plants

Light Requirements Full Sun
Temperature Adaptations Tender: Plant on average date of last spring frost, about when first apples bloom.
Acidity (pH) Tolerance 6.8 to 5.5 pH
Salinity (Ec) Tolerance 2.5
How Pollinated Insects
Growth Habits Annual

Cucumber fertilizer recommendations

Cucumbers can be heavy feeders. Before planting, use an all-purpose fertilizer (20-20-20) and side dress the hills and/or rows with a nitrogen fertilizer during bloom and fruit production as needed. Use about 1 tablespoon of 33-0-0 per plant.

Cucumber watering schedule

Grows best in well-drained soil but needs to be kept moist. Water deeply when soil dries out on top.How do you take care of cucumber plants?

How do you take care of cucumber plants?

If cucumbers are nurtured in hot conditions without enough water, the fruits will be bitter. It’s mostly bitter near the skin and through the first inch of fruit that is near to the stem. There are newer varieties contain a special gene that reduces bitterness dramatically.

Growing cucumbers in moderate weather with even watering reduces bitterness. Plants generally should be seeded in warm soil.

Do cucumbers need a trellis?

When plants are 2″ high, thin them to about 1 foot apart or plant in hills 48″ to 60″ apart. Plants may spread 48″ to 60″. To save space, train vines up supports such as lattices, fences, cages, or trellises.

Cucumber male or female flowers

Cucumbers produce separate male and female flowers. Most types have multiple male buds before female flowers grow and the fruits are ready.

Male flowers grow on straight, smooth stems. The ovary or small, undeveloped fruit appears at the base of a female flower.

Occasionally, although a plant is producing female flowers they do not all set fruit. Existing, developing fruits may inhibit further fruit set until they are harvested or mature.

Is cucumber self-pollinating?

Insects, particularly honeybees, pollinate these plants. If bees are not available the plants may not set fruit due to lack of pollination. Insufficient pollination sometimes results in deformed fruits. When using any insecticides, be careful to protect insects that pollinate.

How long does it take to grow cucumbers?

Cucumber Germination Time (Days)

13 days at 60° F
6 days at 68° F
4 days at 77° F
3 days at 86° F or higher

Seed Germination and Temperature Range

68° – 86° F

Common Fertilizer Deficiencies


Harvesting cucumbers

Choose the right time to harvest cucumber
When should you harvest cucumbers?

Table 3 – Harvesting cucumbers information

Planting to Harvest Pickling: 48 to 58 days Slicing: 62 to 72 days
Average Yield 15 pounds per plant
Recommended planting for a family of five 30 feet of row
Recommended Uses Boil, steam, stir-Fry/Saute, Braise/Stew, Bake, Deep Fry, Raw, or pickled

Cucumber Harvest Recommendations

Pickling: pick when small, 1″-3″ long. Do not damage vine when picking; use a sharp knife, or hold the vine with one hand and give a quick snap to the cucumber.

Slicing: Pick slicers at about 6″ to 8″ long, but before they start to turn yellow or they will stop producing, and be pithy and soft. Larger slicers should be picked before they reach 10″ long.

To increase and extend the harvest, fruits should be picked before they mature.

When to harvest cucumbers

Harvest fruits in the morning when they are cool and firm. They tend to shrivel easily because they are 96% water.

How to store cucumbers from the garden

Cucumbers are best pickled or eaten fresh. They can be stored for a limited time in a cool (45° F) or temperate location (60-70° F). Do not cool cucumbers then leave them in a warm location because they will deteriorate quickly.

Cucumber disease and pest management

Cucumber diseases and their control

Problem: Flea Beetles
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: Small 1/16 ? brown jumping beetle. Eats little holes in leaves.

Control: Do not generally do serious damage. Dust with Rotenone, Remove debris each year. Rotate location

Cucumber pests pictures

Problem: Aphids
Affected Area: Leaf and Stem

Aphids - common cucumber pest problem
Aphids attack many plants – leaves and stems

Description: Plant lice suck fluids from the plant and leave a honey dew substance behind, which turns the leaves pale yellow.

Control: To control aphids, use either insecticidal soap or a strong stream of water. There are also pesticides registered for aphids on cucumbers. If you have questions about pesticide use in your area, contact your county agent to see what recommendations they have.

Problem: Slugs and Snails
Affected Area: Entire plant

Description: Large portions of young plants missing.

Control: Slug and snail bait containing metaldehyde can be used, but only near food plants as it will not be inflexible with the environment. Snail bait attracts slugs and snails from a distance and is great for protecting pets and animals.

You can bury or cut holes in cartons to help attract the slugs and snails in the container. Containers can include beer or yeast water that will drown the pests. In addition, slug baits can also be placed on boards up against one another or along the side of your garden.

To control aphids, use either insecticidal soap or a strong stream of water. There are also pesticides registered for aphids on cucumbers. If you have questions about pesticide use in your area, contact your county agent to see what recommendations they have.

Problem: Cucumber Beetle
Affected Area: Leaf, Stem, and Root

Description: Western Spotted and Western Striped cucumber beetles are two common species that attack vine crops in the West. Adults can eb up to 1/4 inch long with black colored heads, yellowish thorax and with yellow wing covers.

Spotted cucumber beetles have a greenish yellow body, 12 black spots on their back. Striped cucumber beetles are pale orange-yellow with three longitudinal black strips on their backs. Both types of insects winter over in adult form and lay eggs in the soil.

Larvae bore into roots and stems below the soil line while eating leaves of plants. Adults chew leaves of plants which can spread wilt or mosaic diseases to other plants nearby.

Control: Rotenone and diazinon are both recommended for pest control, but manufacturers often recommend different options depending on the type of infestation.

Problem: Damping-off
Affected Area: Seedling

Description: Young seedlings wilt and die.

Control: Us seed that is treated and soil must dry out in between waterings.

Problem: Cucumber mosaic
Affected Area: Leaf, Stem, and Fruit

Description: Vines are of poor growth, budding leaves are very small, with spots, malformed and may just die. Fruit distorts and yellows early.

Control: Plant resistant varieties. Control aphids and cucumber beetles. Rotate placement from year to year.

Problem: Powdery mildew
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: White powdery substance on the leaves. Spores are spread by wind drafts across to plants that are healthy.

Control: Water underground or on the surface so that leaves don’t get wet. leaves. Plant resistant varieties. Change location from year to year. Fungicidal sprays are only moderately effective.

Cucumber plant diseases treatment

Problem: Alternaria Leaf Spot
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: Leaves turn yellow, and spots are seen on the leaves. These spots may group together to form nearly circular lesions. The pathogen’s conidia form around these lesions. Severely infected leaves die from this fungal infection.

Control: Control can be maintained by controlling humidity, removing infected debris and applying fungicides.

Problem: Anthracnose
Affected Area: Leaf, Petiole, Stem, and Fruit

Description: A cucumber leaf starts with a mass of red or brown circular lesions, and they can reach more than 1 cm in diameter. Looking closely, you can see that the edges may crack and drop out creating shot-holes, while at the petioles and stems lesions are shallow and elongated. On the fruit, these reddish or brown surfaced lesions are sunken into a circular gum layer that is water-soaked with seeds in the center.

Control: Chemical or biological control and resistant cultivars are the best way to control c.

Problem: Aphids
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: Aphids damage cucurbits by feeding on them, contaminating the plant with excrement, and acting as vectors of plant pathogens. They can occur just after the formation of the first true leaf.

Control: Insecticides have limited effectiveness for controlling the spread of aphid-borne viruses, so refer to current recommendations when using them.

Problem: Aster Yellows
Affected Area: Leaf, Flower, and Fruit

Description: Plants will often have sickly yellow leaves and flowers. They might have an abnormal, rigid, erect appearance and smaller, misshapen leaves. Fruits are also often small, malformed, and lighter in color.

Control: Leafhoppers can be controlled by applying insecticides, but this does not always diminish disease.

Pictures of cucumber diseases

Brown spot attacks cucumber leaves
This picture of bacterial brown spot shows how easy it is the identify

Problem: Bacterial Brown Spot
Affected Area: Fruit

Description: With honeydew melons, you can see the symptoms as smooth, firm lesions that are up to 40 mm in diameter. They’re discolored with a slight yellow brown tinge and up to 10 mm in diameter, but they only extend 1-2 mm below the epidermis.

Control: No control measures have been developed.

Problem: Bacterial Soft Rot
Affected Area: Fruit

Description: The first signs of bacterial soft rot are the distinct water-soaked appearance and softened tissue. The fruit tissue becomes extremely soft and mushy and often collapses, losing form.

Control: The first step in controlling bacterial soft rot is to avoid bruising or injury.

Problem: Bacterial wilt
Affected Area: Runner and Leaf

Description: Plant wilt is characterized by sudden wilting and death of individual plants. Diseased runners look dark green at first and dry further as the wilt develops.

Control: The best way to keep bacterial wilt from spreading is by controlling the cucumber beetle’s access to your plants. Roguing wilted plants, using trap cropping and insecticide applications are all effective ways of controlling the cucumber beetles.

Problem: Belly Rot
Affected Area: Flower

Description: The disease often produces small lesions on the undersides of the cucumber fruits and blossom ends, which dry to a tan or brown color and get cratered, irregular, and sunken.

Control: Prevention measures to stop the Black Rot infection include deep plowing before planting, and fumigating the soil.

Problem: Black Rot
Affected Area: Fruit

Description: Cucumbers, watermelons, and squash can develop rot before harvest or during transit/storage. Appearance changes include black decay, greenish tan to black spots, and brown-to-pink areas with blackened areas appearing near the fruit’s center.
Control: The best way to avoid fruit rot is to take care when storing and touching the fruit.

Problem: Blossom-End Rot
Affected Area: Flower and Fruit

Description: Small light brown spots appear at the blossom end of immature fruit. As they grow, these spots can enlarge rapidly, forming dark, sunken, leathery lesions as large as the diameter of the fruit. The lesions are generally dry and if affected areas of a fruit are invaded by bacteria or fungi, a secondary wet rot may develop.

Control: NA

Description: Until we develop a control measure, the disease will continue to decimate the flowers and the fruits of roses. When the fungus can invade early, that invades the plant, causing them to turn soft and usually drop off. However, when it attacks later on, it rots away at the flowers and fruit.

Control: No effective control measures have been found.

Problem: Crater rot
Affected Area: Leaf and Fruit

Description: This is known as a distinctive leaf disease, characterized by deep lesions with tan centers and a yellow halo. The disease creates round or irregular shape lesions that range from 2 mm to 15 mm in diameter. There are also black sporodochia that accompany the outer edge of the lesion and can often form concentric rings.

Control: Foliar diseases should be contained using fungicides.

Problem: Cucumber Mosaic
Affected Area: Leaf, Flower, Stem, and Growth

Description: Cucumber mosaic virus causes stunted growth, yellowing, and leaf curling. The flowers of the severely affected plants may have prominent abnormalities and greenish petals.

Control: The best types of control consist of using cultivars that are resistant, insecticides, and/or mineral oils.

Problem: Phytophthora blight
Affected Area: Root

Description: Mature plants can show symptoms of root and crown rot. Feeder roots become depleted, then brown lesions form on lateral roots before sudden wilt sets in.

Control: The control for root rot is to establish raised beds that allow for water drainage after each irrigation.

Problem: Downy Mildew
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: Symptoms of downy mildew first appear as small yellow spots on the upper leaf surface that are less vivid on the corresponding lower leaf surface. Lesions first appear on the older crown leaves and progressively appears on younger, more distal leaves as they expand. As lesion expands, they may remain yellow or become dry and brown in color. Lesion margins are irregular but cucumber has angular borders with leaf veins.

Control: In the best forms of control, you can make use of resistant plants, fungicides and good cultural practices.

Problem: Gummy Stem Blight
Affected Area: Leaf and Stem

Description: Dark spots on leaves, circular and brown in color, which grow until the entire leaf is blighted. Black or tan circles also appeared on the cotyledons and stems of young plants.

Control: Protect your plants by using a fungicide.

Problem: Lasiodiplodia
Affected Area: Root and Fruit

Description: This disease causes a root rot on plants with a vine decline by the stem end. The diseased plants become soft and have water-soaked looking tissue. As time progresses, this tissue shrivels up until it becomes brown and withered as black pycnidia and blue-looking mycelium grow internally.

Control: Fungicide in the form of pastes applied to cut peduncles can been quite successful in controlling Lasiodiplodia. Care should be taken to reduce injury in the harvesting, handling, and packing of the fruit.

Problem: Leafminers
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: Adult leafminers are flies that are black and yellow. Adult females puncture the upper surfaces of leaves for feeding and egg laying, laying eggs in leafs that are cream-colored and oval. This is usually done by puncturing a hole in the leaf and then depositing an egg into it.

Control: In order to control insects and other pests, scouting should be done before the blossom occurs on all crops. Treatment should be initiated when there are numerous small holes in the majority of leaves on the plant.

Problem: Lettuce Infectious Yellows
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: The characteristic symptom of cucurbits is pronounced yellowing and leaf curling, and in melons, the yellow color accompanied by a green mosaic. These symptoms primarily develop on the older leaves.

Control: Aggressive weed control is the best way to control the disease.

Problem: Mites
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: Spider mites damage cucurbits by puncturing cells of the leaves, mainly on theSpider mites puncture the plant cells, mainly on the lower surface. They take out juices and chlorophyll, which impedes the normal creation of photosynthate. A sure sign of infestation is rough areas on the leaves. As feeding progresses, leaves become yellow.

Control: Use recommended insecticides for control.

Problem: Papaya Ringspot
Affected Area: Leaf and Growth

Description: Cucurbit vegetables are the most susceptible to infection, with foliar symptoms and plant stunting. Infected plants often exhibit green mosaic, malformation, puckering, blisters, distortion, and narrow laminae.

Control: When you can get them, using resistant cultivars is a food way to effectively control ringspot.

Problem: Pickleworm
Affected Area: Fruit and Stem

Description: Fruit trees can be infested with fruit worm, which will eat the fruit and make it un-edible. Fruit trees can be infested by larvae that burrow inside of them and kill the plant.

Control: Chemical treatments are effective control mechanisms since they must start before eggs or larva can form.

Problem: Pink root
Affected Area: Root

Description: Pink root of cucurbits is identified by pink y-red lesions on all roots. The disease leaves no apparent above-ground symptoms in watermelon plants.

Control: No control measures work for this disease.

Problem: Powdery Mildew
Affected Area: Leaf, Petioles, and Stem

Description: White, powdery, fungal growth typically develops inside the plant on older leaves and those that are under shade. Symptoms will start from lower older leaves and spread. The infected fruit-bearing plants may die prematurely due to this fungi-caused disease.

Control: Resistant cultivars and a variety of fungicides are employed to reduce powdery mildew.

Problem: Red Rot
Affected Area: Fruit

Description: Symptoms of Red Rot are decayed rinds with no aerial mycelium or fruiting bodies. The texture is similar to healthy tissue, and decayed and healthy tissue cannot easily be separated.

Control: Storing the infected plants at 5 degrees Celsius greatly slows down the growth of fungus, which can help to control the disease.

Problem: Rhizopus Soft Rot
Affected Area: Fruit

Description: Fruits, if they are already fully colonized, will collapse under the weight of other fruits planted subsequently. This diseased tissue is wet and soft, making it easy to remove. There’s also usually a noticeable difference in color from the healthy tissue on the inside.

Control: Rhizopus soft rot is prevented by putting the fruit in ice to reduce bruising and preserving the temperature during shipping.

Problem: Scab
Affected Area: Leaf, Runners, and Fruit

Description: On leafs and runners, populations first show signs of disease that are green, water-soaked or spotted. These spots turn gray to white and sometimes have a shot-hole like appearance. A yellow halo appears around the lesion. Scab can do the most damage on fruit. Spots appear as small sunken areas that resemble insect stingers.

Control: There are certain control measures you can employ, including planting resistant cultivars, rotating crops, and using protective fungicides.

Problem: Sclerotinia Rot
Affected Area: Tendrils, Petioles, and Flowers

Description: Plant disease is most likely to occur in foliage or flowers which have died and infected the plant’s fruit. The infection is favored by prolonged wet periods and cool temperatures.

Control: No control procedures have been developed for this disease, which only affects cucurbits.

Problem: Squash Bug
Affected Area: NA

Description: Damage can be extreme, ranging from a simple loss of plant fluids to the death of young plants and even healthy adults.

Control: Before modern pesticides, squash bugs removal by hand and cleanliness were offered as effective means of control. If a squash bug is found on your plants, there are ways to control it. Sometimes, insecticides are needed but for smaller plantings, these methods help to keep the population manageable.

Problem: Squash Mosaic
Affected Area: Leaf, Growth, and Fruit

Description: Various symptoms of an infected plant include green veins, mosaics, spots and blotches. Plants may also be stunted and produce malformed or mottled fruits.

Control: Using virus-free seed and using insecticides are both ways to deal with uncontrolled beetles.

Problem: Squash Vine Borer
Affected Area: Vines, Stalk, and Petioles

Description: Wilting of plants is often caused by thick vines and stalks. Signs of borer infestation can include holes at the base of the petioles from which greenish frass is extruded. Heavy infestations can lead to large reductions in crop yields.

Control: Chemical control should be started when eggs are found on foliage. The field should be tilled under as soon as the crop is harvested.

Problem: Striped Cucumber Beetle
Affected Area: Seedlings

Description: Only cucurbit plants are attacked. Most damage comes from adults feeding on new seedlings. These beetles are also important as vectors of pathogens, which cause bacterial wilt.

Control: The seedlings should be checked for beetles and a foliar spray of insecticides should be used.

Problem: Thrips:
Affected Area: Leaf, Flower, Bud, and Fruit

Description: Adults and nymphs cause injury. Thrips will feed on the cells of plants, piercing them with their mouth parts and sucking out the juices. Feeding by thrip can cause a host of problems, such as discoloration to flowers and leaves. This can also result in fruit abortions if the problem is bad enough.

Control: The best way to control thrips is by using insecticides and controlling weeds.

Problem: Tobacco Ringspot
Affected Area: Leaf and Fruit

Description: Newly infected leaves typically turn bright yellow, ring spots form, and the leaves dry out. Later in the infection, the fruit often becomes distorted and spotted.

Control: Concentrated cultivation and a systematic weeding program massively reduce the presence of Ringspot.

Problem: Ulocladium Leaf Spot
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: Immature lesions are dark brown and circular, 1-2 mm in diameter. As the lesions age, the central area becomes light beige, surrounded by a ring of dark brown and a halo. The ring has a diameter of 6-7 mm. Several lesions might group together to create bigger, irregularly shaped spots. They retain their light beige centers.

Control: Control of the disease includes using resistant plants, fungicidal sprays, or destroying old vines from cucumbers fields.

Problem: Watermelon Mosaic
Affected Area: Leaf and Fruit

Description: Winter and summer squashes often have symptoms related to mildew. Leaves start out normal, but will grow to be almost the same size as healthy ones. They develop green spots that effect the fruit’s coloration.

Control: There are a few ways to control the virus; resistant cultivars, mineral oil sprays, and insecticides.

Problem: Whiteflies
Affected Area: NA

Description: Whiteflies damage cucurbits by direct feeding on them, transporting excrement onto their leaves, and then inducing these plants to experience physiological disorders.

Control: To prevent too many whiteflies in fields, monitoring should be done when the plants sprout. Sticky traps are useful to catch and see the number of whiteflies, including how far away they are going. Controlling predators and considering other organisms is also important, like parasites and pathogens.

Important cucumber diseases PDF

Other resources relating to the best way to grow cucumber plants

The 7 Secrets To Growing Cucumbers – Old World Garden

How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Cucumbers 

How to Grow and Plant Cucumbers | Caring for & Watering

How To Grow Your Best Crop Of Cucumbers Ever!

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