How to Grow Cucumbers from Seed to Harvest
You like using cucumbers for your salads and you often asked yourself how cucumbers are actually grown?
Good news! In this article, I show you exactly how you can grow cucumbers from seed to harvest in just a few easy steps.
Moreover, I also answer several questions about growing cucumbers and give you some secret tips on how you can maximize your cucumber yield. So, let’s get started!
Cucumber Plant Profile
|Size (Height, Spread)||3 to 6 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide.|
|Climate||Cucumber plants grow best in moderate climatic zones with optimal temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.|
|Sun Exposure||Cucumbers grow best in sunny spots on your balcony or in your garden.|
|Soil Requirements||Cucumbers grow best in rather acidic soil with a pH of 6.0 – 6.7.|
|Country of Origin||India.|
|Perennial?||No, cucumbers are usually grown as annuals.|
|When should you start to grow?||In spring between March and April, depending on your region.|
|Expected Yield & Harvest||2 to 5 pounds of cucumbers per plant.|
|Time from Seed to Harvest||70 to 90 days to grow cucumbers from seed to harvest.|
|Pests & Diseases||Cucumber beetles, Thrips, Aphids, Whiteflies, Leaf spot, Bacterial wilt, Powdery mildew.|
|Use||You can use cucumbers for salads, sandwiches and many other delicious dishes.|
What Varieties and Types of Cucumbers can you grow?
First of all, we have to decide what cucumbers we want to grow. The most promising and popular ones are listed below:
- Burpless cucumber
- Ashley cucumber
- Bush Champion cucumber
- Long Green Improved cucumber
- Marketer cucumber
- Muncher cucumber
- Salad Bush cucumber
- Spacemaster cucumber
- Sweet slice cucumber
- Bush pickle
- English cucumbers
I personally love to grow the English cucumbers since they get really big and you can use them multiple times for your salads.
However, if you are not sure yet what cucumber variety you want to grow, I highly recommend you try many different ones. You can also go for a cucumber seed mix so that you will have many different cucumber plants.
This will not only be great for a bigger variety of cucumbers to harvest, it will also be quite interesting for you to see all those different sorts of cucumbers and you will be surprised since you will never have seen some of those cucumber species at all before.
When should you start to grow Cucumbers?
The exact starting date for growing cucumbers depends on various factors, including your overall climatic conditions and also how big you want to grow your plants.
The sooner you start, the bigger your plants tend to get and with bigger plants, chances are that you will also be able to harvest more cucumbers once the time has come.
Thus, while you are rather flexible regarding the start of the planting seasons for your cucumbers, I advise you to start at the end of March.
By doing so, you can give your plants sufficient time to develop and to grow in a healthy manner so that they are able to produce plenty of cucumbers.
However, the overall timespan when it is possible to start growing your cucumbers is much larger.
In fact, you can start as early as the start of March or as late as the end of April.
Yet, if you live in a rather extreme climatic zone which does not offer optimal growing conditions to your cucumbers, I would suggest you start as early as possible so that your cucumbers will have enough time to grow and the fruits will be ripe until Autumn.
How long does it take to grow Cucumbers from Seed to Harvest?
While many seed manufacturers claim that it will only take 60 to 80 days to grow cucumbers from seed to harvest, this is not actually true from my experience.
Sure, this may be true for certain cucumber varieties under optimal conditions.
However, especially if you are a beginner and do not exactly know what you are doing, I would say that it will take from 90 to 120 days from seed to finish until your cucumbers are ready to harvest.
Don’t get me wrong.
If you start early enough, this is not a problem at all. I just want to give you a more realistic timeframe so that you will not be disappointed if it takes longer to grow your cucumbers from seed to harvest than what is mentioned on your seed package.
What is the best Climate to grow Cucumbers?
Seed manufacturers did a great job of creating cucumber varieties that are quite resistant in many different climatic zones.
In fact, if you live in a moderate climatic zone, chances are that you will just be fine to grow cucumbers.
In fact, as long as you don’t live in too extreme climatic zones like in the desert or in Antarctica, you will be able to grow cucumbers if you follow the instructions in this article.
What Temperatures do Cucumbers like?
Cucumbers are usually quite tolerant regarding the overall climatic conditions as long as they are not too extreme.
Most cucumber varieties prefer moderate temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, cucumbers are also able to deal with quite hot weather as long as you water them sufficiently.
What do you need to grow Cucumbers?
While you don’t need too much equipment to grow cucumbers, there are still some things that are crucial for it. However, you might already some of those things at home.
If not, you can easily get them through my links on Amazon or you can also get them in your local garden center.
- Cucumber seeds (you can either buy them or extract them from your own cucumbers at home)
- A growing bed (to grow your seedlings)
- Big flower pots (the bigger, the better, since more soil means better nutrient supply and better growth; alternatively, you can grow your cucumbers in your garden and don’t need a flower pot)
- Bamboo sticks and cord (to stake and stabilize your cucumbers)
- Fertilizer (you may also want to make your own natural fertilizer as mentioned below)
- Potting soil (you can either buy it or use soil from your garden)
- Garden shovel
- Watering can
- Slug fence (you can also make your own instead of buying snail fences)
- Patience and passion 😉
What Yield can you expect when you grow Cucumbers?
While many gardeners claim that they produce around 5 pounds of cucumbers per plant, this may be quite ambitious.
In fact, especially if you have no experience in growing cucumbers, I would rather expect you to be able to produce 2-3 pounds, depending on how well you follow the instructions in this article.
However, please note that this also depends on the cucumber variety and also on your overall climatic conditions.
Thus, don’t be disappointed if your first cucumber plant only producers a few fruits. Every crop is a success and you will learn and get much better over time.
What to grow with Cucumbers?
If you want to learn more about what plants to grow with cucumbers, make sure to also check out my article in which I show you the best cucumber companion plants.
Why should you grow your own Cucumbers?
For me, gardening in general is quite interesting and I love to see my plants growing. In fact, when I look at all my different plants, I get a feeling of peace and I am also fascinated regarding how such great plants can be grown out of just such small seeds.
I personally think that many people are fascinated with gardening since it is deep inside our DNA to grow our own food since our ancestors had to do so in order to survive.
Apart from the peaceful atmosphere you can create in your garden through growing cucumbers, there is also a practical use.
In fact, if you grow your own cucumbers, you no longer have to get them from the shop.
Moreover, those cucumbers are also much healthier compared to conventional cucumbers from the store since they will be fully organic and you also don’t have to use any pesticides in the growth process.
Thus, growing cucumbers can not only be a quite nice hobby, it can also improve your overall health level.
Of course, this is not only true for cucumbers, but also for growing various other plant species at home.
Growing Cucumbers: Step-by-Step
1. Select a Site for your Cucumber Plants
If you decided that growing cucumbers is the right way to go, let’s take a look at where to start. After you got all the necessary equipment mentioned above, you now have to decide where exactly you want to grow your cucumbers.
In fact, the site plays a major role in the success of your growing project and I give you some important things to consider in the following.
Do Cucumbers like Shadow or Sun?
Most cucumber varieties love the sun. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to get sun all day long.
If you find a spot in your garden or on your balcony that offers sun to your cucumber plants all day long, perfect! If not, it is not a big problem either.
However, make sure that your cucumber plants get a minimum of 2-3 hours of sunlight each day in order to grow in a healthy manner.
Yet, even though cucumbers generally like the sunlight, this is not necessarily true for smaller cucumber seedlings.
In fact, if your seedlings are still quite small, you may not want to expose them to the sun too early since they are still quite sensitive to outside conditions and may even die off if they get excessive sunlight.
Hence, make sure that your seedlings have a minimum height until you fully expose them to the sun.
What are the Soil Requirements of Cucumbers?
Cucumbers like rather moderate soil conditions. This means that the soil should not be too acid and also not be too alkaline.
A good soil pH for your cucumber plants would be between 6.0 and 6.7. This may sound confusing first, but it is rather simple.
As long as you use potting soil from your local garden center, you are good to go since this sort of soil will already offer almost optimal conditions for your cucumber plants.
If you really want to further improve the soil condition, you can ask staff members in your local store whether you should add some additional components to the soil.
However, in my opinion, as long as you offer your cucumber plants the right location and sufficient space to grow, you will just be fine with using the potting soil from conventional garden stores or also if you just plant your cucumbers straight to your garden.
How much Space do Cucumbers need?
When you plan to grow cucumbers, you also have to plan where you want to grow them and how much space will be necessary to provide your cucumbers with optimal growth conditions.
Most of the time, you should make sure that your cucumber plants will have 2-3 feet space between each other in every direction so that they can develop in an optimal manner and don’t have to compete for sunlight or for nutrients.
However, please note that 2 feet is the absolute minimum. In general, if you want to grow your cucumbers as big as possible and if you have a big garden, you should give your cucumbers much more space.
In fact, the bigger the space every plant has, the better and the higher your yields tend to be.
Should you plant Cucumbers in a Pot or in the Garden?
You also have to figure out whether you want to grow your cucumbers in a pot or straight in your garden.
While you can offer your cucumbers more space and soil if you plant them directly into your garden, you will be rather inflexible if you want to change the location of your cucumber plant later on.
In fact, growing your cucumbers in pots gives you much more flexibility in this regard since you can simply move your pots if you don’t like the current location.
Moreover, many people may also not have a big garden or even no garden at all. Hence, if you are one of those people, you will have an easy decision to just go for planting cucumbers in a pot.
However, make sure that you use a big pot in order to offer your cucumber plants as much soil and nutrients as possible so that they can grow in an optimal manner.
2. Plant Cucumber Seeds
After you figured out the optimal site for your cucumbers, we now have to prepare and to plant our cucumber seeds.
Should you buy Cucumber Seeds or Seedlings?
If you want to keep your own work to a minimum, you should just get your cucumber seedlings from your local garden center.
However, in my opinion, you should definitely grow your cucumbers from seed to harvest in order to see every step of the growth process.
Only then will you be able to fully understand how those growth processes work and you can also learn quite a lot, not only for growing cucumbers but also for growing various other seedlings.
Moreover, growing your own seedlings from seeds is not that complicated at all. In fact, I will exactly describe how you will do it.
Should you buy Cucumber Seeds or produce Seeds by yourself?
If you want to grow your own seedlings as I recommended above, you will still have to decide whether you want to use seeds from seed companies or whether you want to extract your own cucumber seeds.
While many people just get their cucumber seeds from the internet or from their local garden center, I highly recommend you extracting your own seeds.
Extracting your own cucumber seeds is not only quite simple, it is also quite a lot of fun since you can start from scratch and get the full growing experience.
For extracting your own seeds, you just need to get your favorite cucumber from the store and cut it in half.
In the inside of your cucumber, you will see many small seedlings.
Just remove them from your cucumber and you are ready to plant them. While some gardeners claim that you should dry those seeds first, this is not necessary at all in my experience.
In fact, you can just use those seeds right out of the cucumber and you are good to go.
How to plant Cucumber Seeds
Now that you are equipped with the seeds of your favorite cucumber species, it is time to really get things done.
Before you can actually start planting your cucumber seeds, you have to fill your growing bed with soil.
However, make sure that you don’t completely fill it with soil, but that you leave around one inch in height left.
Once you filled your growing bed with soil, you can just place your seed next to each other on the top of the soil.
Make sure that every seed has at least 3 inches distance to every other seed so that your seedlings will have enough space to develop in a healthy manner.
After you finished placing your seeds, it is time to cover them with an additional layer of soil of around one inch.
Finally, it is time to water your plants carefully and to wait until you see your first seedlings.
How long does it take to see the first Cucumber Seedlings?
On average, you can expect to see the first seedlings reaching the surface after just one week.
However, don’t be discouraged if it takes far longer until you see the first results.
In fact, if you don’t provide your seedlings with optimal conditions, it can take much longer.
In general, for growing your seedlings, make sure that you place your growing bed at a sunny and warm spot inside your house or inside your flat.
Also note that not all seedlings will reach the surface at the same time. In fact, while some seedlings will reach the surface quite fast, others will take several weeks to do so.
Moreover, also note that not all seeds will turn into seedlings. In fact, many seeds will not grow at all and you should therefore make sure that you plant many more seeds than you need seedlings.
To make this clear, let’s have a look at a concrete example.
Let’s assume you want to grow 10 cucumber plants. In order to get 10 healthy cucumber seedlings, I would advise you to plant around 30 cucumber seeds to reach this goal.
Of course, you can even use more seeds to increase your odds of reaching your goal. However, a 3:1 ratio of seeds to successful seedlings will be quite realistic in my opinion.
How to protect your Cucumber Seedlings
Now that you have grown your first cucumber seedlings, it is time to protect them properly.
While there are not too many dangers for your seedlings inside your home, still make sure that you water your seedlings on a regular basis so that the soil will never dry up.
If you water your plants on a continuous basis, you should be just fine. In case you have pets, also make sure that they will not be able to reach your cucumber seedlings.
When should you transplant your Cucumber Seedlings?
Many people claim that you should transplant cucumber seedlings multiple times and that you should transplant them several times indoors until you finally put them out in your garden or grow them outside in a pot.
However, in my opinion, you can save yourself plenty of work by transplanting your cucumber seedlings just one time when you finally decide that it is time to get them outdoors.
In fact, I always just use my growing bed to grow seedlings to a certain height and when the time has come and the climatic conditions are right, I just transplant them to big pots outdoors.
“Time is right” refers to a state where temperatures don’t drop below the freezing mark at night anymore.
Long story short: If you don’t want to transplant your seedlings multiple times indoors in order to save you plenty of unnecessary work, I recommend you transplant your seedlings just a single time and this transplantation process takes place when you finally decide that it is time to start growing your cucumbers outdoors.
What kind of Protection do Cucumber Seedlings need outdoor?
Now that we know how and when to transplant our cucumber seedlings in an optimal and simple manner, it is time to think about proper protection for our cucumbers outdoors.
In fact, there are many more dangers outdoors than indoors for your seedlings. This includes snails and other pests that may harm your small cucumber plants.
Hence, it is therefore necessary to protect your seedlings as best as possible. While some gardeners use chemical products to protect their plants, I am not a fan of those products at all.
In fact, in order to protect our soil and the local flora and fauna as best as possible, I rather recommend you using snail fences so that you can protect your seedlings against those greedy attackers.
Installing those snail fences should be enough to grow your plants to a state where they are big enough to be no longer too vulnerable and where smaller attacks will no longer be detrimental to your cucumber plants.
3. The Cucumber Growth Process
If you followed the instructions above, you should have been able to produce many healthy seedlings that are now planted in your garden or in your pots.
The hardest part lies behind you, congratulations! Now you can really enjoy seeing your cucumber plants grow.
However, also for the following months, I have some useful tips and information for you so that you can grow your cucumber plants in an optimal manner and maximize your yields.
How fast do Cucumbers grow?
If you look through grower forums or other places on the internet, this question is quite common. It is usually based on the impatience of people to see results fast.
The short answer to this question is: It depends 😉. It depends on so many different factors and nobody will be exactly able to tell you how much your cucumber plants will actually grow each week.
However, if you follow all the instructions in this article, you should be good to go and you should not worry too much about the exact timeframe.
If you started early enough, chances are that your cucumbers will get ripe in time.
Should you prune your Cucumber Plants?
While pruning is quite popular for some other plant species, there is no need to prune cucumber plants at all.
In fact, I get my best results when I just let nature do its work and when I don’t interfere with natural growth processes too much.
Do you have to pollinate your Cucumber Plants by Hand?
Pollinating cucumber plants by hand can make quite a lot of sense. In fact, the flowers of cucumbers are only open for a rather limited time and to make sure that your plants will get pollinated, you can help them out a little bit.
One way to do this is to simply take a stick and carefully distribute the pollen across your plants.
You can also use a cotton swab to do so since it has rather soft ends and you will not damage the sensitive flowers due to that too much.
Thus, in order to maximize your cucumber yields, I recommend you pollinate your plants by hand instead of just relying on insects to do their work.
How to stake your Cucumber Plants
Depending on the type of cucumber plant, there may not even be a need to stake your plants since they will rather grow at the ground and may not need too much stabilization.
However, if you want to make sure that you protect your cucumber plants against heavy winds, you can tie them onto bamboo sticks.
In order to do so, just place your bamboo sticks right next to the cucumber plant and anchor them deep into the soil. Next, just tie your plants onto the sticks with some cord and you are good to go.
4. The Cucumber Harvest
Many weeks passed and autumn arrives. Now it is finally time to harvest the fruits of your work. In fact, it is now time to see how good you did your job over the past months.
When should you harvest your Cucumbers?
Generally, it is time to harvest your cucumbers when they reached the required lengths. Those lengths greatly vary depending on the respective cucumber varieties.
If you are not sure if your cucumbers are already ripe yet, you can just harvest one cucumber and see if it tastes well. If it tastes well, you can also harvest the other cucumbers of the same lengths.
If not, you can leave the other cucumbers on the plant for a little bit longer. Over time, you will get a really good feeling regarding the optimal harvesting time.
Thus, even if you harvest your cucumbers too early, don’t be disappointed. You can learn from those experiences and do better the next year.
How to store your Cucumbers?
Ripe cucumbers don’t last for too long. In fact, they have a rather limited shelf life.
Therefore, you should eat your cucumbers within the first few days after you harvested them.
Within this timeframe, your cucumbers will also be most healthy since they will contain the highest concentration of precious nutrients and vitamins.
Thus, don’t store your cucumbers for too long and eat them right after the harvest.
What to do with your Cucumbers?
There are many different dishes you can use cucumbers for. Of course, the most known use of cucumbers is simply for salads.
You can either make a pure cucumber salad or mix your cucumbers with other delicious vegetables.
Either way, chances are that you will really enjoy your cucumbers since you also know how much work you had to put in throughout the year.
Cucumber Plant Care Tips
While I gave you detailed information on how to grow your cucumbers step by step in an optimal manner, there are some other tips that are not specific to the individual steps, but are useful throughout the whole cucumber growth process.
You find those additional tips and tricks in the following.
How often should you irrigate Cucumbers?
Watering our cucumber plants in an optimal manner takes a little bit of experience.
In general, you should water your plants as soon as the surface becomes dry and the leaves of your cucumber plants start to hang.
Thus, you have to watch your plants carefully each day in order to see when it is time to irrigate them.
While your cucumber plants will not need too much water when they are still small, the water consumption will increase with the size of your plants.
Moreover, on hot summer days, it may even be necessary to water your plants multiple times a day or to water them once a day with large amounts of water.
Consequently, especially in summer, make sure that you take care of your plants on a daily basis.
If you are on vacation, make sure that you have friends or neighbors who are willing to water your plants in order to prevent them from dying off.
At what Time of the Day should you water your Cucumber Plants?
In my experience, it doesn’t really matter when you water your plants. While some experts claim that the best time to irrigate your cucumber plants is in the early morning, I have seen no difference whatsoever as long as you make sure that your plants get sufficient amounts of water.
How often should you fertilize your Cucumbers?
If you use potting soil from your garden center, there will often already be some fertilizer in it and if you offer plenty of space for your cucumber plants, chances are that you will not even have to fertilize them too much at all.
However, if you still want to use fertilizer in the growth process, you should just use rather limited amounts of fertilizer since you can do more harm than good to your plants if you use too much.
If you use chemical fertilizers from your garden center, make sure to follow the instructions on the product and don’t use more than recommended!
What kind of Fertilizer should you use for your Cucumber Plants?
However, I am not a big supporter of using chemical fertilizers at all. In fact, in my opinion, the use of chemical fertilizers is not only unnecessary most of the time, it can also contaminate our soil and can be quite harmful to our local flora and fauna in the long run.
Instead, if you want to fertilize your plants, you can use natural fertilizer.
You can even make your own natural fertilizer in a quite simple manner. You just need to get some stinging nettles from nearby forests and put them in a bucket full of water.
After that, you just need to wait a few days until you can remove your stinging nettles and you will have plenty of nitrogen-rich natural fertilizer that you can use to fertilize your plants in a completely natural way.
Should you use Pesticides or Herbicides for Growing Cucumbers?
Similar to chemical fertilizers, I also don’t recommend you using chemical pesticides or herbicides at all.
Those substances can be quite harmful to many insects and may also decrease the local bee population and the population of many other helpful insects.
Thus, instead of using those substances, make sure to remove weeds by hand.
Moreover, instead of using pesticides, make sure that you use natural measures in order to protect your plants.
In fact, you can just use the stinging nettle fertilizer and spray it onto your cucumber plants.
Many pests don’t like the taste at all and you may not even need to take further measures to protect your cucumbers against pests.
If you want to get more information on cucumber pest control, also make sure to check out my article on how to treat cucumber plant diseases and pests.
What’s left to say?
First of all, thanks for reading my article to the end. I know it is quite long, but in order to give you the best instructions possible so that you can succeed in growing your own cucumbers, it is necessary to go through all the different steps.
If you like this article, make sure to also share it over social media so that even more people will start planting their own cucumbers.
I also recommend you check out my additional growing guides and my growing cucumber faqs so that you will be able to grow even more vegetables yourself.
About the author
My name is Andreas and I’m really passionate about our environment and also about growing plants. In fact, I have grown several different plants over many years. I love to see my own plants grow and always try new things.
In my blog posts, I want to share my experiences with you so that you can become successful in growing various different plants, even if you are still a beginner right now.