How Long Does It Take for Cucumbers to Grow?

From seed to harvest an average cucumber plant has fruit ready to pick after 50-70 days. Cucumbers are warm weather plants and will grow faster in warmer conditions. Cucumber seeds can germinate as fast as 3 days or as slow as 3 weeks depending on temperature.

If you know the variety of cucumber you’re growing you’ll be able to find out more exactly how many days to maturity the cucumbers will take.

Pickling cucumber plants typically produce mature cucumbers faster than fresh use cucumber varieties but produce for a shorter time period, 3 weeks compared to 6 weeks.

The days listed to maturity on the seed packet start after the cucumber seeds sprout. How long it takes for a cucumber to grow depends on the variety of cucumber being grown and the weather. Periods of drought, low temperatures and less sunlight, or pest damage can stress plants, delay fruiting, and decrease yields.

How Long Do Cucumbers Take to Grow After Flowering?

In most plants you’ll see male flowers in 35-55 days and female flowers a week or two later in 43-62 days. You can tell a female flower from a male flower in two main ways.

The best way to tell is directly behind the female flower there is a bulge that is an ovary that is the small immature cucumber. This bulge is not present behind the male flowers. Also The stem leading up to a female flower is thicker than the stem leading up to the male flower.

male and female cucumber flowers
The female flower is on the left with the bulge (ovary) behind the flower. Male flowers show up on the plant a week or two before female flowers and will naturally fall off the plant.

Once female flowers are present they can be pollinated and can produce a cucumber that is ready to pick in 7-21 days, faster for pickling cucumbers and slower for slicing cucumbers.

You’ll know when to harvest by the size of the cucumber. By knowing the variety of the cucumber you’ll know when to keep an eye out for cucumbers that are the right size for harvest.

In general pickling cucumber should be picked around 2-5 inches long and slicing cucumbers 5-8 inches long. If you see any yellow on the cucumber it’s probably past picking time.

Planting Cucumbers From Seed

On average cucumber seeds will sprout in 7-10 days but with ideal conditions can sprout in as little as 3 days and with cold conditions can take up to three weeks to sprout or not sprout at all.

The best way to know when to plant your cucumber seeds is when soil temperatures have reached 60 degrees or more. The ideal soil temperature for cucumber seed germination is about 80 degrees.

This is the reason heating mats exist. If you do use a heating mat remove the seedlings after 50% or so have sprouted. Most garden plant seeds like warm temperatures to germinate small but seedlings prefer cooler temperatures between 55-75 degrees.

Use a soil thermometer to measure soil temperatures. A soil thermometer is basically a meat thermometer that reads down to lower temperatures. Put it down into the soil and let it sit for 5 minutes.

A good way to get an average of the soil temperature is to take the temperature between 9-11 AM when the soil has warmed up from night temperatures but before the temp is inflated by the afternoon sun.

Growing from seed will obviously take longer for the plant to reach maturity and fruit then a plant that is started indoors and transplanted outside.

If you buy cucumber plants around 8″ tall you can figure that took around 4 weeks of growing time including germination.

If you start your cucumbers inside harden them off for 5 days or so before transplanting to the garden. Do this by placing them outside and exposing them to full sunlight and wind gradually. First for only a few hours and then progressively longer until they’re outside for most of the day.

Cucumbers roots don’t handle transplanting well so it’s best to use compostable starter pots that can be directly transplanted into the ground. Avoid peat pots if you can, they are not environmentally friendly.

Use Cow Pots or soil blockers or starter trays with or without individual compartments. If you use a tray without compartments you can transplant by watering the tray and then using a tool like a flat edge hand shovel to cut out the seedling plants with blocks of soil.

A cheap alternative is to use a cardboard egg carton. Poke a few toothpick size holes in each egg spot to help drainage. When it’s time to transplant cut each egg spot out individually and plant. You may need to pull the cardboard apart a little but it will disintegrate.

By using row covers early in the season you can raise the soil temperature by 5 degrees, help protect small plants from frost, hard rain, and winds, and help keep pests off. Row covers can be held up with hoops, sticks, or stakes.

Different Types & Varieties of Cucumbers

Cucumber varieties fall under three main types: slicing, pickling, and burpless/seedless. Some varieties like “Salt and Pepper” and “Korean Cucumbers” are good fresh for slicing or for pickling.

Cucumbers can be further characterized as bush or vining cucumbers. Most varieties grow as a vine but some grow as a bush and these are well suited to grow in containers. Two common bush varieties are The Bush Champion or Burpless Bush Hybrid.

Some of the vine varieties are less sprawling than others and will sometimes be defined as semi-vining. These can work in a container with a short trellis. An example of this variety is the “Northern Pickling Cucumber” or “Parisian Pickling”.

Parisian Pickling is a good variety to make cornichons. Cornichons are tiny pickled cucumbers, 1-2 inches, that pack a strong burst of flavor. You see them sometimes at a salad bar.

Burpless cucumber varieties do not contain the compound called cucurbitacins that leads to a bitter taste in the cucumbers. The compound also leads to stomach gas, hence the name “Burpless”.

Pickling cucumber varieties typically have bumpy skin and are harder with less water content. They are shorter and ready to harvest when they are 3-4 inches long.

They usually produce sooner than slicing cucumbers but will fruit for a shorter amount of time, around 1-3 weeks. “Boston Pickling” or “Kirby Cucumbers” are common pickling varieties.

Slicing cucumbers are usually smooth skinned and eaten fresh. These are typically the cucumbers you see in grocery stores. Slicing cucumbers grow longer anywhere from 6-24 inches and will fruit for 4-6 weeks. Common slicing varieties include “Straight Eight” and “Diva Cucumbers”.

For most cucumbers the more stress the plant has through it’s life cycle the more cucurbitacins are produced and the more bitter the harvested cucumbers will be. Regardless of the variety being grown, it’s important to minimize stress throughout the plants life to get good yields and good tasting cukes.

It’s also important to pick cucumbers on time, before they start to yellow and become fully ripe. This will cause the cucumber plant to continuously fruit and have bigger yields.

Cucumbers left on the plant to fully ripen will turn yellow and be hard and bitter as well as signal to the plant to stop producing fruit. To see if cucumbers are a fruit or a vegetable check out “Are Cucumbers A Fruit or Vegetable – From Every Angle“.

Please comment below with your own thoughts on how long it takes cucumbers to grow or whatever.

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