University of Maryland Extension


cucumber on trellis 

Growing and Care of Cucumbers

  • Cultivars are available for slicing and pickle types, dwarf-vined or bush types, Armenian, and Asian types. Burpless cucumbers are long and slender with a tender skin. Through plant breeding, the bitterness associated with the burp has been removed. There has been a significant increase in disease resistance in cucumber cultivars in recent years. Try to select resistant varieties, when possible.
  • Members of the Cucurbitaceae family have separate male and female flowers on each plant. For the flower to develop into a fruit, pollen must be carried by bees from male flowers, on the same plant or on different plants, to the female flower (the one with the tiny fruit below the flower). It takes 8 to 12 bee visits per flower to ensure pollination and fertilization of the ovule, sufficient to form a straight, full-size fruit. Poor cucumber set is common when bee activity is low. Avoid using pesticides during the bloom period. 
  • Regarding pollination needs, there are three basic types: 

    Standard or monoecious — First 10 to 20 flowers are male. For every female flower, which produces the fruit, 10 to 20 male flowers are produced.

    Gynoecious — Have only female flowers; some just have a greater proportion of female to male flowers. These plants tend to bear fruit earlier with a more concentrated set. Standard seeds are added to seed packet to ensure pollination.

    Parthenocarpic — All female flowers and seedless; fruit is produced without pollination. If this type of cucumber is planted near other varieties, pollination will occur and seeds will form. Seed is expensive.

  • Trellising: Most cucumber types and cultivars produce long, vigorous vines. Training vines on a trellis or fence along the edge of the garden will prevent this and also lift the fruit off the soil. Plant four to five seeds per foot, thinning to a 9- to 12-inch spacing when plants are 4- to 5-inches high.

Benefits of trellising include:
• Increased total yields and yield per square foot;
• Longer and straighter fruit (easier for bees to access flowers);
• No soil-borne fruit rot since vines dry off faster;
• No walking on vines, and
• Easier to pick and a longer harvesting period.

  • Watering - Keep the root zone moist by watering deeply and regularly during dry periods. Water more frequently when fruits begin to develop.
  • Weeding - Remove all young weed seedlings by hand or with a hoe and use a mulch laid around plants to keep weed seeds from germinating.

Harvesting Cucumbers

  • Pickling cucumbers should be 2 to 4 inches long. 
  • Slicing cucumbers should be 5 to 8 inches long depending on the variety. 
  • Remove by turning cucumbers parallel to the vine and giving a quick snap. This prevents vine damage and results in a clean break. 
  • Working in the vines when leaves are wet may spread diseases. Wait until after morning dew or rain evaporates.

Storage and Preservation 

  • Medium cool (45° - 50°F), moist (95% RH) conditions.

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