Knowing the stages of cucumber plant growth can help you know what to expect as the plant grows in your garden. Knowing about the fruit production process will help to know when to harvest cucumbers which is important to keep the plant producing and end up with lots of cucumbers from every plant.
Cucumber Plant Growth Stages
In the video below the plant being grown is a parthenocarpic (seedless) variety of cucumber. These varieties grow seedless cucumbers that do not require pollination to grow fruit.
Parthenocarpic varieties are commonly grown in greenhouses where there is not enough bee activity to pollinate the flowers.
The downside is that seedless cucumber seeds are more expensive and there are less varieties of seedless cucumbers available to choose from.
If you watched the video to the end you probably noticed the grower only ended up showing one ripe cucumber. In the description they mentioned that they had a problem with blossom end rot on the other cucumbers.
Blossom end rot affects fast growing produce like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, watermelons, and pumkins. It’s caused by a lack of calcium or irregular watering schedule that causes the plants uptake of calcium to be wacky.
Sometimes the plant itself just acts wacky and doesn’t send enough calcium to the fruit being produced. Try a different variety next time if you have blossom end rot troubles.
Cucumber Seed Germination
Cucumber seeds will germinate on average in 7-10 days but can germinate as fast as 3 days or as slow as 21 days.
The two main factors in seed germination are soil temperature and the availability of moisture. Cucumber seeds will germinate faster in warmer soil temperatures and slower in cooler temperatures.
For cucumber seeds to germinate well they should be planted when soil temperatures reach 70 degrees or above. Optimum soil temperatures for cucumber seed germination is 85 degrees.
This is the point of heating mats. If you do use a heating mat remove the seedling plants when about 50% of them have sprouted. While most seeds like warm temperatures to germinate, seedling plants like cooler temperatures to grow, between 55-75 degrees.
To measure soil temperatures use a soil thermometer. Take the soil temperature between 9-11 AM to get an average daytime soil temperature.
Moisture is necessary for seed germination. Moisture activates catalysts within the seed that start the germination process. It softens the shell of the seed so that the sprout can get out and combines with the starch or protein present within the seed to from a soluble with nutrients that the sprout can absorb.
The first two leaves to appear after sprouting are the cotyledon. These two leaves are stored within the seed and once the plant sprouts unfold and start to produce energy for the plant. A week or two later the first true leaves of the plant will appear.
The plant will continue to sprout new leaves and will grow tendrils that will wrap themselves around whatever is nearby for support. Growing cucumbers on trellises is in my opinion the best way to grow cucumbers.
Cucumber Flowering & Pollination
Most cucumber varieties available are monoecious, meaning they have both male and female flowers on the same plant. Male flowers appear on the plant about 35 days after it sprouts and then female flowers 10 days or so later.
You can tell the difference between male and female flowers because female flowers have a bulge directly behind them that looks like an immature cucumber. That is the ovary of the flower and once pollinated will become a cucumber in 7-21 days.
“Cucumber Flowers & Pollination – Everything You Should Know” this article goes further into detail about the flowering and pollination phases of cucumber plant growth.
Cucumber Fruit Production
Pickling cucumbers produce fruit before slicing cucumber varieties but for a shorter window. Pickling cucumber varieties will produce for 2-4 weeks and slicing varieties for 4-12 weeks.
For a cucumber plant to produce as much cucumber as possible cucumbers need to be picked on time. Cucumbers should be picked while they are immature.
When a cucumber fully matures on the vine it will send signals to the rest of the plant that will start to slow down the plants production of cucumbers which will lead to less cucumber yields.
Generally, cucumbers should be picked when their diameter is around 2″. Pickling cucumbers are shorter than slicing cucumbers and should be picked around 2-4 inches long and slicing cucumbers 5-8 inches.
You can get a better idea of the right size to pick cucumbers by knowing about the variety you’re growing.
Can I Grow Only One Cucumber Plant?
Yes you can grow only one cucumber plant. Most cucumber varieties are monoecious meaning they have both male and female flowers on the same plant so one plant has what it needs for pollination.
If you live in an area without much insect activity, like an apartment balcony, hand pollinating is a good idea and easily done.
There are some cucumber varieties that have been bred to be gynoecious. This means the cucumber plant will have all female flowers.
It’s a good way to get more cucumbers as every female flower can become a cucumber but you’ll need a plant with male flowers on it to pollinate the all female flowers of the gynoecious cucumber plants.
When you buy gynoecious seed packets they commonly come with a few seeds that have been dyed or colored with a marker. Those mark monoecious plant seeds. These plants will have male flowers that will be enough to pollinate all of the female flowers of the gynoecious plants.
We talked about seedless, or parthenocarpic, cucumber varieties at the beginning of the article. Almost all parthenocarpic cucumber plants are also gynoecious. So they have all female flowers that do not need to be pollinated.
Do Cucumber Plants Come Back Every Year?
Cucumber plants are annuals that will live out their growth cycle and die. Even in warm climates with temperatures that are suitable for cucumber plants year round cucumbers need to be successively planted for continual harvest.
Please comment below with your own thoughts, knowledge, experience with cucumber plants!