There are many ways to successfully grow cucumbers including in pots, on the ground, and/or with a trellis. The place to start when analyzing how far apart to plant cucumbers is by knowing the varieties of cucumber you want to grow and how you want to grow them.
Plant cucumbers 12″ apart in a row with rows spaced 4-6 feet apart. If you’re planting from seed common practice is to plant seeds 2-3 inches apart and then thin down to 12″ apart when the plants reach around 4″ tall. If you use a trellis you can cut down on the space between rows to around 2 feet between rows.
If you’re using a trellis with either of these methods you can cut down the space between rows to 2 feet. If transplanting cucumber starter plants the same spacing applies as once you have thinned down the amount of cucumber plants.
To thin plants, pick the most robust plants to leave and cut others that are too close or weeny looking with pruning shears at soil level. Don’t pull them out by hand to avoid bothering the roots of the cucumber plants you want to leave.
To get more specific about how far apart to plant you’ll need to know the variety of cucumber you’re growing.
Cucumber varieties are broken down into slicing or pickling depending on what you plan to use them for, but more important for spacing is how the cucumber will grow.
Bush cucumbers will grow 2-3 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide. Semi-vining cucumbers are a similar size to the bush cucumbers and vining cucumbers can grow 10 feet long and sprawl 2-3 feet wide.
Cucumber Plant Spacing
|Source||How Far Apart to Plant Cucumbers||How Far Apart to Plant Cucumber Rows|
|Michigan State University||12"||5'-6'|
|Colorado Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence||4-8"||3'-4'|
|Penn State University||9-12"||3'-4'|
|University of Maryland||12"||4'-6'|
|University of Illinois||12"||5'-6'|
For fields of pickling cucumbers that are harvested by machine plant spacing and row spacing are influenced by the equipment the farmer has. Harvesters with 84″ heads work better with rows planted 26-28″ apart and plants 4-5″ apart in rows. A harvester with a 90″ head works better with rows planted 30″ apart and plants 3-4″ apart in rows.
How Far Apart to Plant Cucumbers In Containers
Varieties of bush cucumbers are the common suggestion for growing in a container or small space like raised beds but another benefit of using a trellis is you can grow just about any variety you want in a container or small space.
If you’re planting in containers you want at least 3 gallons of dirt per cucumber plant and containers to be at least 12″ deep. Plant cucumbers in shapes like triangles, diamonds, pentagon, hexagon to get equal spacing. Plant cucumber seeds in bunches of 2-3 seeds and then thin down to 1 per spot.
How Far Apart to Plant Cucumbers In Raised Beds
For a typical raised bed of 4’x8′ plant cucumber transplants every 12″ along the 8′ side of the bed. For cucumber seeds plant along the rows every 3″ and after plants emerge trim down to a plant every 12-18 inches along the row.
How Deep to Plant Cucumber Seeds
If planting cucumber seeds outside plant them 1″ deep. If planting cucumber seeds in a pot or transplanting outside cover the seed or root ball of the transplant with 1/2″ of soil. If planting in starter pots use a pen to make a space 1/4″ deep.
When done planting water gently from above for outside plants or pots and water from the bottom for a starter tray.
To water from the bottom fill a starter tray with 1/4″ of water and place the starter pots in the tray. Check on the pots in 20-40 minutes and the soil on top should feel moist if the water has wicked its way up. Dump out the remaining water.
Planting Cucumbers In Mounds or Hills
The benefit of planting in mounds or hills is increased soil temperature and better drainage.
I’ve always found the problem with planting any garden veggie in mounds or hills that you get noticeably less plants than planting in rows.
If you grow in mounded rows instead, you can get the benefits of mounds and hills and the better plant spacing of rows.
To make a mounded row pile dirt 8″ high in a line. To plant cucumber plants in hills or mounds you’ll have multiple plants at each hill and will want to space the hills 3-4 feet apart along a row. Space the rows of hills 4-6 feet apart.
To make the hills, pile up mounds of dirt in a circle about 8″ tall with a diameter of 12-18″. Plant 5 seeds per hill by creating 5 holes 1″ deep into the mound. Cover with dirt and water in. After the plants reach about 4″ trim down to 2-3 plants per hill.
Square Foot Gardening With Cucumbers
Square foot gardening is an intensive form of gardening that involves breaking up a garden plot or raised bed into individual square foot sections. The point of this is to make better use of garden space.
Square foot gardening takes the recommended in-row spacing, for cucumbers 12″, to calculate how many of any given plant can fit into one square foot. Distance between rows is left out.
For plants spaced 12″ apart like cucumber they are allocated one square foot per plant. A trellis will be needed to make this work with cucumbers. Here are some other examples.
|Plant||# of Plants Per Square||Space Between Rows|
|Baby Leaf Spinach||32||N/A|
|Melon||2 squares per plant||N/A|
Square foot gardening makes it easy to see spots that are open in the garden and simple to know how to fill that spot and with how many plants. This calculator can help if you want to use different spacings between plants.
Another benefit of square foot gardening is that it usually leads to a polyculture of plants in one bed or area. Having whole beds or areas of the garden with one plant can be a bad idea because once a specific pest finds their favorite food source they will have a large supply of it in a concentrated area.
Why Plant Spacing Matters
Proper spacing of cucumber plants is essential for good yields. You want to plant them far enough apart that each plant has room to stretch out and receive sunlight but not so far apart that you’re wasting garden space.
You also don’t want the plants to be on top of each other as this can invite disease like powdery mildew and may leave some plants with inadequate sunshine. Those two problems can be eliminated together by using a trellis. Check out this article for more information on the pros of growing cucumbers with a trellis.
Please comment with any thoughts or questions about cucumber plant spacing.