Eat them fresh, pickled, or toss them with your salad—cucumbers give recipes that fresh vibe we all crave once in a while.
What’s even better is that you can grow them in your backyard!
The key is knowing when to plant cucumbers and how to care for them so that they grow plump and healthy.
So, when to plant cucumbers? The best time to plant these easy-to-grow crops is in late spring or early summer. Start cucumber seeds indoors about four to six weeks before the expected last frost date in your region. If you live in warmer climates, you can plant them directly onto their final growing spots.
What Is the Best Month To Plant Cucumbers?
Cucumbers like the warmth and aren’t able to survive in the frost.
If your region enjoys a long growing season and a mild climate, you can begin planting cucumber seeds in April or June.
Those who live in warmer areas can plant them as early as February or March all the way through to July.
Basically, what you want is for both the soil and the air to be around 65 F to give cucumbers the right conditions to grow.
This temperature is the perfect condition for the cucumber seeds to germinate and grow, so plan your planting schedule accordingly.
Choosing Cucumber Seeds
The type of cucumbers you choose to grow depends on your kitchen’s needs.
You will find a long list of varieties suitable for home-growing.
Regardless of the variety you choose, remember that all cucumber plants want are nutrient-rich soil and water—lots of them.
You can also benefit from using an all-purpose liquid feed, but make sure it’s organic.
With that said, here are your choices for cucumber seeds:
First are pickling cucumbers.
As the name suggests, these are often turned into pickled cucumbers because of their relatively drier flesh.
Also called gherkins, you can easily distinguish this variety for their shorter and smaller fruits and a tough, spiny exterior.
If you like snacking, you’re better off planting lunchbox cucumbers.
These are bred to be picked when they reach around three to four inches long, so they’re the perfect crunchy yet healthy snack.
When you think of cucumbers, these are probably what you have in mind.
The most common among the four, slicing cucumbers boast a juicy flesh and thin exterior.
They are also often seedless when picked, making them an ideal salad ingredient eaten raw.
If you like going against the flow, try growing heirloom cucumbers.
These are old cultivars that bear fruits you probably won’t find in your local produce market.
You can try growing “apple” or “lemon” cucumbers, which are yellow-skinned and as small as golf balls.
Then, there are varieties with white exteriors that don’t even require peeling before eating raw.
Planting Cucumbers in Different Climates
Though easy to plant and grow, cucumbers need specific conditions to grow and thrive.
Here’s what your chances are for growing healthy cucumber plants depending on the climate in your area:
As mentioned, you should plant cucumbers in the spring as soon as the soil has had time to warm up.
However, those who live in tropical regions might also be able to grow them in early winter.
The most important thing is to remember that they will thrive in temperatures between 75 F and 85 F.
The problem with planting cucumbers in dry climates is that they turn bitter.
Hence, if you live in these regions, you will have to provide the plants with more water.
When you do give them more water, make sure you don’t allow the soil to become soggy.
Soggy soil will leave the roots sitting in moisture for too long, encouraging disease growth.
Cucumbers grow and thrive well in Zones 4 through 12.
They enjoy full sun, but you might need to provide shade when it becomes too hot in the afternoon.
You want to give them at least eight hours of daylight each day, but you can also find varieties that grow with just five-hour daylengths.
How To Plant Cucumber Seeds
Like most plants, it can be tricky to start cucumber seeds indoors and then plant them outside.
You will need to allow them to harden or get healthier before transplanting.
However, if you like to get a head start, you can plant cucumber seeds indoors about three weeks before planting them outside.
Remember, only transplant them outdoors and onto the ground around two weeks after the last frost date in your region.
For more detailed instructions, here are the steps to planting cucumber seeds:
Step 1: Decide Where To Plant the Seeds.
Same with growing any plant, pick a spot in your garden that offers the right conditions for your cucumber plants.
Find out which area receives the most sunlight.
Cucumber roots run deep (about 35 to 50 inches). Hence, plant them away from trees and other plants that may compete with them for nutrition and water.
This also means removing weeds from where you plan on growing your cucumber plants.
Step 2: Pick a Cucumber Variety.
Once you know where to plant cucumbers, you can go ahead and pick which variety to grow.
Again, you will find many choices available.
In the end, your decision will hinge on your region’s climate and the kind of cucumber you like eating.
Step 3: Plant the Seeds in Soil.
Got the seeds? You’re ready to plant then!
This is assuming you also did the necessary steps to make sure the area has fertile soil.
This means removing weeds, checking and adjusting the soil’s pH level if necessary, adding fertilizer, and topping it all off with organic material.
When planting vining cucumbers, it’s very important that each plant is given enough space to creep.
To be sure, space them about 35 to 60 inches apart.
Before putting the seeds in, moisten the soil first with just enough water.
Then, put in around three to four seeds in groups. Doing this gives you better chances of growing the strongest plant.
Step 4: Add Mulch Once Seedlings Sprout.
Once the seeds have sprouted, that’s when you know you can add mulch on top of the soil.
This technique not only prevents weeds from growing but also keeps the soil moist and warm.
How To Water Cucumbers
Are you enjoying watching your cucumber plants grow?
To make sure they have what they need, remember to give them about an inch or two of water each week.
Here’s how to do it in easy-to-follow steps:
Step 1: Keep the Soil Well-Hydrated.
How do you know when to water your cucumber plants?
Regularly check that the soil around each plant is slightly moist. When it starts to dry up, that’s the time to hydrate them again.
Over- or under-watering your cucumber plants might result in bitter-tasting fruits, so make sure you follow a strict schedule.
Step 2: Water at Soil Level.
When watering cucumber plants, do so at the soil level. In this case, you should avoid using sprinklers.
These plants grow large leaves, which can easily develop mold and mildew when left moist for many hours.
For the best results, you might want to use a drip irrigation system for your cucumber plants.
Step 3: Fertilize When Flowers Start To Bud.
When you start seeing flowers, encourage more growth by giving the plants organic feed or spraying with mild liquid fertilizer.
Do this every two weeks to help them grow healthy and strong.
How To Grow Cucumbers
To guarantee growing success, here are other steps you might want to take to give your cucumber plants the best care:
Tip 1: Build trellises.
Home gardeners who choose to plant vertically will need to build trellises for their vining cucumber plants.
This growing method gives them access to more sunlight, which then increases your chances of getting a higher yield.
Tip 2: Cover to protect against the sun.
If your area reaches temperatures above 90 F, you might want to protect your cucumber plants from too much heat.
Give them shade from the afternoon sun by planting taller crops near them.
Alternatively, you can use a piece of shade cloth.
Tip 3: Cover with netting.
From cucumber beetles to chipmunks and rabbits, your juicy cucumbers are at risk of getting damaged and dug up.
When they’re still young, you can cover the entire area with a fine mesh netting to keep them safe.
Tip 4: Protect against pests and diseases.
For more protection, you can try using insecticides or fungicides to fight off disease and pests.
If you do, make sure to use the organic kind.
Generally speaking, yellowing leaves means the plants lack nitrogen.
How Long Do Cucumbers Take To Grow?
From germination to harvesting, your cucumber plants might take anywhere from 55 to 70 days.
Many factors come into play when it comes to how fast they reach full size and become ready for harvesting.
So, how do you know when they’re ready to be picked?
Check that the skin is about medium-green to dark-green in color. The flesh should be firm to the touch.
Given the right conditions, healthy plants will produce up to 10 cucumbers.
You don’t always have to search far and wide just to gain access to fresh, organic cucumbers.
These are easy-to-grow crops that you can plant in your backyard—beginner or not, green thumb or no!
So, what are you waiting for?
With this guide, we’re confident you’re only a few weeks away from harvesting your very own home-grown cucumbers.