Cucumber plant not growing

Cucumber in Container – Yellowing, wilting bottom leaves

Hello! This is my very first time posting in this forum. I studied the tips for new gardeners posts diligently, so I hope I’m abiding by the rules! I will say that I debated as to whether to post this question in the container forum or the general vegetable garden forum – please feel free to move this if I got it wrong!
I’ve been conducting an exhaustive online search (including many posts on this very website) to try to discern what the heck is going on with my poor little cucumbers. The vital stats:

    – Growing in the Bay Area (Oakland), with moderate (though a bit warm for us lately) temps
    – Directly seeded into container in April
    – Got first cuke (which was a total beauty!) in early May
    – Water daily, though not a huge dousing
    – I have another cucumber plant, of a different variety, that is doing just fine. Planted at the same time.

Here are some photos of the plant – as you can see, bottom leaves are turning yellow, then eventually brown and dried out. I pull the dry leaves, and there’s water in the stems (not the goop that I hear might come out if they’re suffering from verticillium rot).

Here is what my research has turned up:

    – Could be a lack of nitrogen. I fed a balanced NPK fertilizer (EB Stone Vegetable Food) one week ago. No improvement yet, and yellowing has progressed.
    – Could be too sunny of a spot. I moved a week ago. No improvement, and yellowing has progressed.
    – Could be verticillium rot. Though I didn’t see any sludge when I pulled off a dying leaf, so maybe not.
    – This is my own conjecture, but could it be that I planted them too early, and they’re just dying back already? I’ve gotten 3 good cucumbers off of the plant, so it doesn’t seem likely, but I’m running out of ideas.
    – Finally, and hence posting in this forum, could it be that they were inappropriate to plant in a container? I just didn’t have space in my in-ground garden when I thought it was time to plant – maybe that’s my fault.

Any thoughts or ideas you might be able to share would be incredibly appreciated. Thank you experts!

Growing Cucumbers

  • Grow cucumbers in a spot that gets 6-8 hours of sunshine daily and has good air circulation.
  • Plant once all chances of frost have passed.
  • Give vines a vertical growing path by planting next to a trellis or fence.
  • Improve soil nutrition and drainage by adding Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® All Purpose In-Ground Soil (in-ground), Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® All Purpose Container Mix (containers), or Miracle-Gro® Raised Bed Soil (raised beds).
  • Enjoy ripe cucumbers sooner with starter plants from Bonnie Plants®.
  • Check soil moisture often and water when the top inch becomes dry.
  • Add a 3-inch layer of mulch to help prevent weeds and retain soil moisture.
  • One month after planting, start feeding with Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® All Purpose Plant Nutrition Granules.
  • Harvest cucumbers when they’re big enough to eat.

Include cucumbers on your must-grow list because they’re easy to care for, prolific, and taste delicious. Planting cucumbers begins with either seeds or young plants, and you can grow them in a traditional vegetable garden, raised bed, or container. Choose long green varieties or smaller versions ideal for canning. “Burpless” cucumbers help reduce the gassiness some diners experience, and bush types yield wonderfully in pots.

Here are our top tips for growing cucumbers.


Plant cucumbers in a spot that receives 6 to 8 hours of sun daily. Select soil that provides a well-drained, nutrient-rich base. Fill containers with Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® All Purpose Container Mix. For in-ground planting beds, mix 3 inches of Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® All Purpose In-Ground Soil into the top 6 inches of soil. (Both soil mixes are enriched with aged compost.) If you’re planting cucumbers in raised beds, fill beds with 100 percent organic Miracle-Gro® Raised Bed Soil or equal parts garden soil and potting mix.

Choose the right pot size if you’ll be planting cucumbers in containers. For non-vining or bush cucumbers, use a minimum pot size of 12 inches (5 gallons). With vining cucumbers, use a pot that’s at least 24 inches across.

Why are my cucumber plants not producing cucumbers?

Cucumber, squash, and melon plants often bear many male flowers before female flowers appear. Examine the plants to determine whether female flowers are present. You can identify a female flower by the tiny cucumber at the base. Male flowers lack these. Click here to see a photo showing female and male cucumber flowers. If female flowers aren’t present yet, the plants may be too immature to bear fruit. If the vines are healthy and growing in full sun, female flowers should appear in due time.

If fruit is not developing even though female flowers are present, the cause may be lack of pollination. Anything that interferes with pollination of the female flowers reduces fruit-set and yield. Factors that affect pollination include cold temperatures and rainy weather, which hamper bee activity, and improper use of insecticides that kill bees. If you think lack of pollination is the problem, try pollinating by hand. Locate the male blossoms. Break off several from the plant, and peel back their petals. Note the pollen on the insides of the blossoms. Gently push the pollen into the female blossoms with a paint brush, a feather, or the male blossom itself. This action should ensure a good crop.

Question: Why won’t my cucumber plants produce fruits?

Answer: You may just need to be patient. Cucumbers, like squash, pumpkins, watermelons, cantaloupes, and many other plants, produce male and female flowers separately on the same plant. They often begin producing male flowers several weeks before the females appear. The males make pollen and are necessary, but they do not produce fruits. Look to see if there is a little cucumber behind the flower. If you see a baby cucumber, you have a female flower. If you just see a slender stem going right up to the back of the flower, you have a male flower. If your plants have female flowers and the fruits still aren’t setting, be sure that the plants are not excessively dry. The leaves may wilt on hot days, but they should recover as the temperature drops in the evening. If they are still wilted by morning, you are not watering them enough, or you are watering too shallowly and too often. Excessive nitrogen fertilization also could be a problem. If the nutrients are unbalanced, the flowers will drop. Also, if there are no bees to pollinate your cucumber flowers, you will have to transfer pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers by hand. Use a cotton swab or soft-bristle paintbrush to transfer pollen.

Ever had a grocery store cucumber that kind of tasted like cardboard? For a long time, I thought I disliked the bland flavor of cucumbers. They were just kind of boring, and I couldn’t really find anything exciting about them. When reading about Middle Eastern food culture, I found that cucumbers play a huge role in their cuisine. Most main courses were accompanied with a cucumber salad. I began to wonder, what was I missing about this crunchy vegetable? Here’s everything you need to know when it comes to how to grow cucumbers.

As it turns out, a fresh cucumber couldn’t taste more different from one that has traveled thousands of miles to sit on the grocery shelf. Growing cucumbers will not only produce the freshest, most flavorful cucumbers you can imagine, but they can be very lucrative, too.

Within two months, you’ll have more cucumbers than you know what to do with! They grow well in container garden settings or in raised beds.

So find a place with maximum sunshine and fertile soil, and get ready to grow the best cucumber plants with these tips.

1. Choose Your Variety

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Got the #veggie #garden planted the other day! Already had issues with critters eating my plants after 2 days! Got some of it taken care of…but we shall see how it goes. Hoping to get some good pickings this year! I have #tomato #pepper #cucumber #carrot #brusselsprouts and #groundcherry planted! Wish me luck ✨

A post shared by Nicole Sorensen (@exploremore94) on May 20, 2019 at 1:25pm PDT

Cucumber varieties can be broken into two distinct camps: pickling cucumbers and slicing cucumbers. Types of cucumber has its own different varieties, though fresh cucumbers are most often slicing cucumbers.

Pickling types seem to reach their peak faster and are usually bumpy and rough while slicing varieties are smoother and have a better fresh flavor.

2. Start your Cucumbers Indoors

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Saturday nights in the nursery #tomatos #indoorstarts #efficiency #growratio

A post shared by Canadian Reefer (@robbsreefer) on Apr 22, 2017 at 6:34pm PDT

If you want to harvest early, start your plants indoors a month before the last spring frost date. Cucumber seeds indoors will sprout with proper care, so be sure to provide air circulation and soil moisture to your small gardens.

Once you’ve passed the frost date, you’re in the clear to move the plants outdoors for the best homegrown crop yet.

3. Harvest Often

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Just a little cucumber harvest. There are at least six more that aren’t ready yet 😍 #organicurbangardening #growyourgreens #organicgardening #raisedbeds #cucumber #allthepickles #urbangardening #cucumberharvest

A post shared by ✨Madi 🦇🐝🎃🔮💄✨ (@madixodell) on Aug 7, 2016 at 4:33pm PDT

The more you harvest, the more fruit your healthy plants in your vegetable garden will produce. As most vine crops are wont to do, the cucumber vines will spread throughout the garden so be sure to either erect a trellis (see below) if your garden isn’t wide.

So if you want lots of cucumbers, harvest as often as possible to keep your plants happy.

4. Don’t Let Them Get Too Big

Try to pick your cucumbers when they are of mature size. For slicing cucumber varieties, a mature fruit is around 6 to 8 inches. Pickling cucumbers mature fully around 3 to 4 inches.

Pickling styles are smaller fruits, which often can be helpful when using large mason jars that can hold multiple compact varieties at once. If the cucumbers get too large, they can get bitter-tasting or mushy and will turn yellow, no matter the bush varieties.

5. Keep Them Warm

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#sunset🌅 in the greenhouse. #mtl #lufafarms #urbanfarming #cucumberplant

A post shared by Victoria (@victoria_shinkaruk) on Feb 22, 2017 at 1:01pm PST

Cucumbers like warm weather and plenty of sunlight. Look for a spot that meets these conditions, and add compost to your soil to give them plenty of nutrients and get them off to a good start.

You can use organic fertilizer to encourage the transition from indoor cucumber plans to outside, though a warm soil temperature matters the most when the time comes to plant cucumbers.

6. Build a Trellis

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A post shared by Touchstone Pantry (@touchstone_pantry) on Jul 15, 2016 at 6:06am PDT

Cucumbers like to vine so you can trellis them to lift the fruit off of the soil, making your garden neat and pretty. If you have an old tomato cage around, you can use it or make your own trellis.

Lifting the vines off the ground promotes better airflow around the plant to prevent diseases like powdery mildew and bacterial wilt.

7. Avoid Bitter Cucumbers

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🍀 มะระปลอดสารพิษ #มะระ #ChinesseBitterGourd #BitterCucumber

A post shared by @ vicpracht on May 7, 2017 at 6:58pm PDT

If your cucumber is bitter, it may be experiencing heat stress or uneven watering due to alternating periods of drought and overwatering.

You can cut out the section of the plant that is producing bitter cucumbers, move the plant to an area with more even temperature, or you can work hard to water evenly and regularly.

8. Consider Your Climate


Cucumbers love the heat and humidity, and they need even watering to prevent them from becoming bitter.

Look at the seeds or starts and make sure they are well adapted to your climate. Most seed packets companies have resources to help you find your growing zone.

Fun Facts

1. If you thought you could only make gazpacho with tomatoes, think again! Cucumbers make a delicious and refreshing chilled soup in the summertime.

2. Russia has an official Cucumber Day to celebrate the vegetable! The town of Suzdal celebrates the first cultivation of the cucumber from 500 years ago. It takes place every year in July, culminating in a cucumber-eating contest.

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Cucumber festival, Suzdal #suzdal #cucumberfestival #слегкимпаром

A post shared by @ rainbotron on Jul 19, 2016 at 1:36pm PDT

3. The viral sensation “cats afraid of cucumbers” created a hilarious number of videos where cat owners pranked their cat by placing a cucumber behind them while they ate. Apparently, cucumbers are a stealthy predator.

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@ftgtjhc @peaceminusone @xxxibgdrgn @__youngbae__ oppa DON’T TRY THIS TO YOUR CAT! #catscucumber © to catzebox

A post shared by 뇽토리•DOUBLE B•NAMSONG•TODAE ( on Jan 14, 2016 at 9:28am PST

4. Spas are well known for putting cucumbers over your eyes, but do you know why? As it turns out, cucumbers contain ascorbic and caffeic acid, which soothes skin irritations and reduces swelling.

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A little spa day R & R is just the fix you need! Book your next treatment today! 🌸 📷: @rosegoldkitty

A post shared by Burke Williams Spa (@burke_williams) on Mar 21, 2017 at 4:45pm PDT

5. Cucumbers are high in vitamins B and electrolytes and have high water content. They are said to cure hangovers if you eat a few slices before going to bed.

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When plants are very young and just tiny seedlings, it can be difficult to tell vegetables from weeds. Here’s a guide to identifying some of the most common veggies.

First Leaves vs. True Leaves

The first two leaves that many vegetable seedling put forth are called cotyledons (seed leaves), which do not pattern themselves after the leaves of the mature plant. They mainly serve as “snack packs”—energy bars for the infant plant to consume so that it can put forth its own true leaves.

While your seedlings sport their early cotyledons, it can indeed be difficult to distinguish them from each other and from weeds!

After the true leaves emerge, which can take several weeks, you’ll be able to spot more differences between seedlings as they take on the special shape and form of their kind.

The cotyledons, having served their purpose, will eventually die off.

Vegetable Seedling Identification: Pictures and Descriptions

Here’s a quick visual guide to some of the easiest vegetables to grow from seed.


The bean seedling’s first seed leaves often appear to be heart-shaped. Its true leaves will be smooth-edged and arranged three to a stem, with two opposite each other and one above. Learn how to grow beans.

Bean seedling


With proper watering, beet seedlings will emerge in five days to two weeks after planting. Young beets put forth smooth, oblong green leaves on red or pinkish/purple stems. Because several seedlings can grow from one beet seed, you may need to thin them by pinching some off at ground level. Learn how to grow beets.

Beet seedlings


Carrot seedlings in the earliest stages may be mistaken for grass because their seed leaves, unlike some other vegetable cotyledons, are tall and thin. A young carrot’s true leaves, shown below, have a distinctive, fern-like shape. Learn how to grow carrots.

Carrot seedlings


The oval seed leaves of emerging cucumber and squash plants look very much alike, but the cucumber’s true leaves will be triangular and lobed with a fuzzy surface and serrated (toothy) edges. As the cucumber vine develops, its delicate-looking but tenacious tendrils will grip and climb anything in their path. Learn how to grow cucumbers.

Cucumber seedling


Kale comes in many varieties, with true leaves that may be either smooth or fancily ruffled. Its seed leaves may peek above the soil in about a week and the plants should be thinned to a foot apart when they reach five inches tall. The benefit of thinning kale is that you can enjoy the snipped seedlings in a salad! Learn how to grow kale.

Kale seedlings


The many varieties of looseleaf and head lettuce are characterized by their leaves. Depending on whether the leaves will become soft or stiff, loose or bunched, lettuce seedlings will vary in appearance. Lettuce seedlings respond well to consistent watering and cooler temperatures and, if started indoors, will need to be hardened off before being planted outside. Learn how to grow lettuce.

Lettuce seedlings


You won’t see seed leaves emerging from pea seedlings because, unlike those of many other vegetables, pea cotyledons remain underground. Peas like to climb and will form oval leaflets with tendrils that readily wind around supports. Learn how to grow peas.

Pea seedlings


Pumpkin, squash, and cucumber seedlings may be hard to tell apart because they belong to the same family, the cucurbits. A pumpkin’s seed leaves will be large, flat, and rounded, looking a little like small elephant ears. As it grows, a pumpkin will form huge leaves and its vines may eventually cover a lot of territory. Learn how to grow pumpkins.

Pumpkin seedling


Radishes have smooth, heart-shaped seed leaves that soon give way to elongated and scalloped or gently serrated true leaves. Radishes are fast-growing, and those planted in the cool days of spring may be ready to eat in just three or four weeks. The nutritious radish leaves, or “tops,” may be eaten as well as the roots. Learn how to grow radishes.

Radish seedlings

Squash (Summer and Winter)

While all squash will emerge with rounded cotyledons, squash seedling leaves will vary by type the more that they grow. A summer squash will develop prickly, semi-triangular, jagged-edged leaves. A winter squash leaf will generally be broader and more rounded and, while hairy, not prickly. Learn how to grow squash.

Squash seedlings


The seed leaves of tomato seedlings are long and narrow, while the true leaves tend to have asymmetrical lobes, very similar to the leaves of the adult plant. Look for three connected (or nearly connected) leaves at the end of each branch, with one or two smaller leaves farther down the branch. The seedlings’ stems and leaves may also be lined with small hairs. Learn how to grow tomatoes.

Tomato seedling

Learn More

For more information on growing vegetables, herbs, flowers, and more, check out our collection of Growing Guides.

See our guide to identifying common weeds.

Quick Guide to Growing Cucumbers

  • Plant cucumbers when average daily temperatures reach the mid-70s° F.
  • Space cucumbers 36 to 60 inches apart (12 inches apart for trellised plants) in an area with abundant sun and fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8.
  • Improve native soil by mixing in several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter.
  • Cucumbers will grow quickly with little care. Be sure they receive an inch of water every week.
  • Make the most of your food growing efforts by regularly feeding plants with a water-soluble plant food.
  • When soil is warm, add a layer of straw mulch to keep fruit clean and help keep slugs and beetles away.
  • Harvest cucumbers when they are big enough to eat.

Soil, Planting, and Care

Cucumbers need warm, fertile soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8, although they will tolerate a bit more alkaline soil to 7.6. To improve the soil and help create the root environment needed for a big harvest, work several inches of aged compost-enriched Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose In-Ground Soil into the top few inches of your existing garden soil. (Compost or composted manure will work, too.) Plant seedlings 36 to 60 inches apart, depending on variety (check the stick tag). For vines trained on a trellis, space plants 1 foot apart.

In areas where spring is long and cool, you can warm the soil 3 to 4 degrees by covering the hill or row with black plastic.If you do not plant in black plastic, then mulch with pine straw, wheat straw, chopped leaves, or your favorite organic mulch shortly after planting. If the weather is unseasonably cool, you can wait a while to mulch until the ground is warmed by the sun. Mulch is especially important to keep the fruit clean for bush types and vines not growing on a trellis. Straw mulch is also thought to be uncomfortable for slugs and creates an uneasy footing for cucumber beetles, helping to keep them at bay.

If you can, trellis your vines. This keeps the fruit clean and saves space. A 12- to 18-inch diameter cage made from 4- or 5-foot welded wire fencing or hog wire will support 2 or 3 vines. Wire is easy for the tendrils of climbing cucumbers to grab as the plant grows.

Cucumbers grow fast and don’t demand a lot of care. Just keep the soil consistently moist with an inch of water per week (more if temperatures sizzle and rain is scarce). Inadequate or inconsistent moisture causes oddly shaped or poor-tasting fruit. If possible, water your cucumbers with a soaker hose or drip irrigation to keep the foliage dry. This helps prevent leaf diseases that can ruin the plant.

For best results, high quality plant food is just as important as starting with great soil. You can fertilize with a water-soluble food, such as Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose Plant Nutrition, applying it directly to soil around plant stems. Or, you can use a continuous-release fertilizer, like Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose Plant Nutrition Granules, worked into the soil. Both plant foods feed both your plants and the beneficial microbes in the soil that help them thrive. Either way, be sure to follow label directions.

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